Quadrupled from Ducati Xerox to Kyalami !
For the big comeback of the SBK World Cup in South Africa this weekend, Spies signed the 6th pole of his career – in 6 races! -, but Haga and Fabrizio proved intractable … In Supersport, Laverty and Crutchlow share the honors. Story.
Second Superbike race
Max Biaggi got off to a very good start, but Noriyuki Haga took the first corner in the lead! As in the first heat, Biaggi did not keep his 2nd place for long – no more than one turn! – against a still incisive Ben "Elbowz" Spies.
Two bends later, it’s Jonathan Rea’s turn to overtake the Roman Emperor. Led by Haga then Spies, the leading trio – the third thief is Rea – tries to escape while Fabrizio is slow to overtake his compatriot Biaggi.
The same goes for Leon Haslam who seems to be restrained by Carlos Checa posted in front of him … After his fall in the first round, the young Englishman is keen to appear well in this second: "it was a bit daring to choose my second bike for the second race", admits the Honda Stiggy rider n ° 91.
Indeed, according to "Pocket Rocket", his mule does not have the same gearbox and suspension settings, "but it worked from the start", remarks Leon who overtook Checa in the 3rd lap.
Fabrizio didn’t wait that long: in the previous loop, the Ducati rider got rid of the Aprilia n ° 3 and rushed towards Rea, who was struggling to keep pace with Spies and Haga. The Japanese himself fell slightly behind the American, until…
Until the Yamaha decides to give up! "I felt good and I had made a slight gap (almost half a second, Editor’s note), when a technical problem forced me to withdraw from the race", regrets Ben bitterly…
At the end of the first South African round, the American was already 63 points behind Noriyuki Haga in the provisional standings … And he was only 17 points ahead of the Japanese teammate, Michel Fabrizio! Could it be that the two official Ducatis lead the championship at the end of this race? ?
For that, it "suffices" for Michel to pocket the 20 points for second place. But the Italian comes back like a cannonball on this one, occupied by Johnny Rea … So much so that at the start of the 4th lap only, n ° 84 points in front of n ° 65 !
"For the second race we made some changes on the bike and I felt more comfortable", explains Noriyuki Haga. But obviously, Michel Fabrizio benefits from a Ducati at least as efficient…
Then begins a formidable showdown between Haga and Fabrizio: the gap between the two enemy brothers will vary between 3 and 8 tenths throughout the race! The fight takes place at a distance, of course, but the spectacle is beautiful !
Behind, the third step of the podium has long been coveted by three pilots: two young wolves from across the Channel, Rea and Haslam, and an old transalpine sea dog, Max Biaggi! Unfortunately, on this bumpy and little-known track, Superbike tamers are less aggressive than usual … And Rea locks everything !
Haslam nevertheless tried, six laps from the end, a desperate overtaking: after braking very – yes, "too" – late, the n ° 91 climbed a small second on the virtual podium, widening considerably in the turn and come out of it still behind Rea, in 4th position…
"I was happy to be able to fight at the front, but for some reason I didn’t have much left on the rear tire at the end of the race: it looked like a piece of jelly. !", describes Leon who, in good English, probably knows better than anyone in jelly….
For his part, Jonathan Rea is over-motivated: the Irishman could get on his first World SBK podium … and give the women of his courageous mechanics a good leg. !
"The team was waving to me during the second race"Says pilot Ten Kate, a bit under pressure."So I increased the pace a bit to keep Haslam and Biaggi behind me, in order to have a reserve in the very last laps."….
But Jonathan’s Machiavellian plan is unfolding exactly as planned: neither Haslam nor Biaggi can hang on to his wheel! "I couldn’t fight for third place with Johnny", concedes Leon. As for Max Biaggi, he will establish a similar observation:"these two 5th places (rounds 1 and 2, Editor’s note) were the best we could do"…
Ahead, a superb finish is being prepared: on the penultimate lap, while they catch up with Shaun Whyte and his Yamaha prepared by GMT94, the two official Ducatis are 3 tenths apart! R1 # 49 once passed, Haga and Fabrizio let go in a breathless final lap !
Meter after meter, Michel grabs the lead from Nitro Nori. "I knew Michel was near me and in the last laps, my braking was getting longer and I had to hang on", confided Haga after the race.
Thus, the n ° 84 tries a first overtaking on the brakes but must widen, leaving the head of the race to n ° 41. Fabrizio has not yet said his last word: in the very last corner, the insolent brakes again for his teammate … but widens again !
Stuck on his path, Noriyuki Haga just has to put full throttle towards the finish line in front of a real "Nitro" Michel! "Maybe I made a mistake telling Nori I was going fast in the 3rd section because that’s where he really attacked in the 2nd heat", Fabrizio observes…
"Even though I gave everything I had until the end, Nori took the win, but we had fun fighting like this", rejoices the Italian before concluding:"I take the second position (in the general classification, Editor’s note), so that leaves me very satisfied".
Let us also underline the very beautiful 11th place of the unknown Sheridan Morais on his Kawasaki: "such small changes on these Superbikes lead to crucial differences", realizes the South African pilot !
"We made a semblance of modification on the bike for the second race and the bike was different to ride", insists Ninja # 132:"there, I was able to pilot! I missed the Top10 by one place, but I drove drastically !".
Twice 6th this weekend, Carlos Checa does not leave South Africa so cheerful: "it’s not easy to see your teammates being successful: Kiyo at Monza last week, Jonathan today", notes the ex-GP star despite his good weekend – compared to the previous five…
Ten Kate’s No. 7 consoles himself, however, by projecting himself in two weeks: "it’s the right time to go to the USA, where I have good memories of victories (a double, Editor’s note) last year".
His counterpart Shinya Nakano, ex-terror of the GP250, also had his best weekend of the season but admits that he still has work to do … Twice 7th at Kyalami, the Japanese specifies that he must "further improve my feeling during the first five laps, where I lose a lot of ground".
As for Ruben Xaus, who was aiming for two Top10s, the stay in South Africa ended in two falls: "I suspect Smrz to be also involved in my second fall", loose the n ° 111 whose BMW was suddenly mown when entering a bend…
For his part, Steve Martin, second Behème pilot, wants to be grateful to the German manufacturer: "I would never have thought of racing again in the SBK World Cup", explains the Australian pilot whose job this weekend was not"to be Troy Corser, but to try to report as much information and feelings as possible".
At GMT94, we warmly thank Shaun Whyte who "was able to finish his two races without a problem. Of course, he doesn’t score points. This goal was not achievable at the moment anyway. But he was very happy to fight with Steve Martin for a good ten laps".
"Then, the lack of experience of tire wear and the duration of races twice as long as he knows made him lose his very good pace to finish much more difficult", reports the French team."But he can be proud of his performance in a race that will remain unique and memorable for him and for those close to him. !"
In the general classification, Noriyuki Haga takes off with 250 points (out of 300 at most!) Ahead of Michel Fabrizio (165) and Ben Spies (162). Thanks to his excellent weekend, Jonathan Rea (106) gets closer to his "colleague" Honda Ron Haslam (116) and doubles Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes (103 each).
On the constructors ‘side, Ducati (272 points) took advantage of his two doubles to increase his lead against Yamaha (203), which nevertheless pocketed Sykes’ 7 points in the second round. Honda is third with 170 points (thanks Rea!) Ahead of Aprilia (106, thanks Biaggi!), Which passes just ahead of Suzuki (105, thanks Kagayama!), BMW (score blocked at 59, thanks Smrz?) And Kawasaki (27, thank you Morais the local!).
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