WSBK – Racing in the rain … –

Racing in the rain…

WSBK - Racing in the rain ... -

Sunday was the 11th round of the World Superbike Championship, the "European" round of Donington Park under a sky that did as it pleased! The falls have been numerous, but the champions are doing well ….

As at Brands Hatch last month (read), the rain accompanied the drivers for a good part of the weekend and the Superpole event was again turned upside down: contested on a wet track, the drivers had the right to complete twelve laps track instead of just one in dry weather…

But in this little game, it is again Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) who wins! The Australian and his 1098 pocket their sixth pole of the season ahead of the most British of the Japanese, Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda Ten Kate). Whatever the weather, we can expect to find these two double champions – Troy "world champion" and Ryuichi "champion of Great Britain" – at the forefront….

These two favorites are accompanied on the first row by a second Honda and a second Ducati: the Ten Kate of Carlos Checa and the Go Eleven of Ruben Xaus. Next in line are guest rider James Ellison on a third Honda (Hidrex Bike Animal), Max Biaggi on a third Ducati (Go Eleven).

Tom Sykes, another wild card, climbed to 7th place on his Suzuki Rizla, followed by Troy Corser on his official Yamaha (Santander). Carl Crutchlow (Honda HM Plant), third local rider takes third place ahead of Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), Noriyuki Haga (Yam ‘Santander) and Leon Haslam (Honda HM Plant).

At one place, David Checa (Yam ‘GMT 94) could have taken part in the Superpole: he is 17th and leaves Walker, Neukirchner, Lavilla and Smrz to share, in this precise order, the 4th row. On the French side, Sebastien Gimbert (Yam ‘GMT 94) and Regis Laconi (Kawasaki PSG-1 Corse) must be content with 22nd and 26th place.

In Supersport, on the other hand, the tricolor colors are hoisted high as Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Intermoto Czech) signs his second pole position of the year ahead of young English hopeful Jonathan Rea (Honda Ten Kate), Barry Veneman (Suz ‘RES Software Hoegee) and Joshua Brookes (Honda Stiggy Motorsport).

The second row is led by another Suzuki – decidedly at ease on the water – driven by Didier Van Keymeulen, followed by two other Honda led by Holland and Kallio and a rather unexpected first Yamaha: that of Kennaugh.

You have to wait for 15th place to see the name of championship leader Andrew Pitt appear, and 20th place to see that of Broc Parkes, official Yamaha rider! The race promises to be long and delicate for these two Australians. Especially since black clouds are gathering above the track from Sunday morning…

First Superbike race

At the start, the Ducati n ° 21 of Bayliss reared up and let the Honda n ° 23 of Kiyonari and the Suzuki n ° 66 of Tom Sykes pass in front … The Japanese crossed the first corner in front of the English and the Australian. They are preceded by Biaggi, Checa, Xaus, Corser, Haslam, Crutchlow and Walker.

From the first series, the leading trio takes off: Ryuichi Kiyonari is particularly swift at the controls of his Honda. Troy Bayliss rated it well and the Aussie doubles Sykes to keep in touch with two-time Brands Hatch winner !

At the end of the first loop therefore, Kiyonari and Bayliss lead the race. Sykes is slightly off the hook but he started off much better than the rest of the peloton – Xaus, Corser, Checa, Biaggi, Haslam, etc. – which already points to 1.4 seconds from the leading men…

While we discover a Regis Laconi in slow motion in the pit straight, an even more striking incident occurs: Kiyonari is trapped in Old Hairpin ! The supercharged Japanese exceeded the maximum angle of his rear tire and started a long slide. He must retire, but will be present in the second round !

Bayliss therefore inherits the lead, Sykes is now second and Xaus rolls in 3rd position, playing neck and neck against Corser. Behind, Checa leads the chase pack made up of Haslam, Lavilla, Biaggi, Neukirchner, Walker and Kagayama.

In the 3rd lap, Corser took the third step of the podium, passing Xaus inside in Coppice. The trajectories are dry but here and there, portions of the tracks are still wet … Beware of excessive enthusiasm so !

In the next chicane, it was Haslam’s turn to overtake Checa to gain 5th place. The style is generous: while gliding, the Honda n ° 91 brakes like the Honda n ° 7 in front of an audience proud of its representative. The French public is less lively: Regis Laconi pulls straight into the last bend and cannot avoid the crash…

Another source of satisfaction for the British: Tom Sykes goes back to Troy Bayliss! The brightness and visibility on the circuit drop a notch … Will rain make its appearance in the middle of the race? Doubt sets in even if Bayliss and Sykes continue to provide the show !

In the 7th lap, the leading duo had more than 5 seconds ahead of Corser 3rd, more than 7 on Xaus 4th and more than 9 on Haslam 5th. Haga is 6th at 13 seconds, and the peloton which consists of Kagayama, Lavilla, Rolfo, Smrz and Biaggi is more than 15 seconds behind! Further still, Smrz, Biaggi, Fabrizio, Nieto and Ellison fight for 9th place.

Taking advantage of a Bayliss gap in the long right of Coppice, the regional of the Sykes stage takes the lead! The Englishman then proves that his place is not only due to a small error of n ° 21: in a U-turn, the Suz ‘Rizla sticks a good second to the official Ducati !

At the same time, Carlos Checa and Sebastien Gimbert made a mistake in the same turn! In spite of the precariousness of the grip, Tom Sykes puts it back on and takes two more seconds from Bayliss: the Englishman who is racing this year in the British Superbike has nothing to lose while the Australian has to manage his comfortable lead in the championship and that can be seen in the way they ride their horses !

The same observation can be made about Xaus and Haslam: the Spaniard is able to score big points – he is 4th – and cannot do anything against the Briton who does not hesitate to put his Honda through in every race. turns to mark the spirits … So that in the Fogarty Esses, Leon ends up passing in front of Ruben.

At the start of the 9th lap, therefore, Sykes built up a lead of 3.991 seconds over Bayliss. Corser is in 3rd position at 7.7 seconds. Haslam and Xaus are 10 seconds behind the leader while Haga, Rolfo, Kagayama and Lavilla ride in tight formation over 20 seconds.

Suddenly, a plume of white smoke emanates from Noriyuki Haga‘s No. 41 Yamaha. The Japanese let his opponents pass but does not leave the track so far…

Then it was the turn of his teammate Corser to draw attention to him: like Checa (Carlos) and Gimbert, the n ° 11 suffered a fall in Coppice. Unlike French and Spanish, Troy has difficulty getting up in the gravel and has to get help from the marshals to reach the security wall..

A few seconds later, Tamada goes highside in the same turn, immediately followed by Carlos Checa – the Spaniard was able to start again – who starts off in a less impressive lowside. It’s too much, the commissioners wave the red flag !

Second start: the drivers returned to the grid position they occupied at the end of the 9th lap, i.e. Sykes ahead of Bayliss, Corser, Haslam, Xaus, Rolfo, Kagayama, Lavilla, Smrz, Biaggi … David Checa started in 18th position , in front of his brother Carlos and just behind Haga! Note that the times of this second "round" will be added with those of the first to know the final classification of this first Superbike race…

When the red lights go out, the Suz ‘of Sykes firmly defends its 1st place while the Ducati of Bayliss is passed by the Honda of Haslam and Rolfo. Xaus and Biaggi’s 1098s followed, Lavilla’s CBR and Nieto’s GSX-R.

After a smooth lap, the "kangaroo" n ° 21 jumps on Rolfo’s 3rd place in Melbourne, and benefits in the following turn from a gap from Haslam: Bayliss takes 2nd place just before crossing the timing line! The Ducati rears up with each gear change and swoops down on the leading Suz ‘: At the end of the straight, Troy is in Tom’s wheel…

Overall, however, Sykes has a good lead of more than 4 seconds … Bayliss still has to whip to obtain his first victory at Donington! Haslam is 3rd half a second behind Sykes but he was more than 10 seconds behind Sykes at the time of the red flag … In total, he is therefore 3rd at 11 seconds, ahead of Xaus (13 sec), Rolfo, Lavilla, Kagayama and Biaggi (all over 20 sec).

In the 2nd lap, Fabrizio gets out in the descent of Show off and comes to finish his race on the vibrator of Old Hairpin. More fear than harm for the Italian, but his Italian – his official Ducati – is good to throw…

In front, Sykes is still leading but Haslam comes between Bayliss the Suzuki Rizla rider as the Fogarty Esses. The n ° 91 did not keep his 2nd place for a long time since at the end of the 3rd straight line, Bayliss returned to the front. Leon has just missed the rope of the 1st turn and raises his hand before getting his head back into the handlebars.

Very confident, Bayliss performs in the following sequence an incredible outside on Sykes! The Australian takes off and lets the Englishman explain himself to the two Honda riders … An explanation that begins very strongly with Haslam overtaking Sykes at the end of Coppice.

Posted in their aspirations, Roberto Rolfo delays his braking around the Fogarty Esses but drift away on the outside. The Italian remains 4th … Behind, teammates Biaggi and Xaus fight 4 seconds behind Bayliss for 5th place.

One lap later, Rolfo again attempted a braking attack in the "Fogarty chicane" … This time, the n ° 44 took a much tighter trajectory than his opponents. Robby passes Tom Sykes before plunging his CBR into the first left … and losing his front wheel just in front of Leon Haslam who cannot avoid it and falls in turn !

Reconciled with the track that cost him a phalanx last year (read), Troy Bayliss flies to victory. Tom Sykes clings to his 2nd place and Biaggi takes 3rd position leaving Xaus alone to manage Nieto’s comeback … Smrz and Kagayama provide the show: they are fighting for 7th place, 6th being occupied a second ahead of them by Gregorio Lavilla.

In the 7th lap, Bayliss was 3.8 seconds ahead of Sykes: he was therefore one tenth from first place overall, one tenth – and even more – than the Australian found in the following lap! Behind, Nieto hoists his GSX-R in front of Xaus’ Ducati. Ruben therefore loses his 4th place on the track but still rolls in 3rd position overall, 8 seconds "ahead" of his teammate Biaggi !

In the 10th lap, the fight intensified between Nieto, Xaus and Lavilla: the three Spaniards swapped places in the first portion – oh so fast and impressive – of the circuit. The fight promises but passing the pits Troy Bayliss raises his hand…

The Australian does not give up the gas for all that and continues on a half-loop before taking the helmet out of the bubble and turning to Sykes who also indicates the presence of rain on the track by lifting the glove. Biaggi in turn confirms: the race is prematurely stopped !

Troy Bayliss thus wins this first race ahead of Tom Sykes and … Max Biaggi! Indeed, Ruben Xaus credited for a time in 3rd place is finally downgraded: the Spaniard fell after the arrival of the red flag and could not return to the pits on his own…

Lavilla finished 4th ahead of Kagayama, Smrz, Nieto, Haslam, Muggeridge, Ellison. David Checa, colt of Christophe Guyot, finished 11th in a race where only 14 pilots reached the finish line! Among the big customers who did not score a single point are: Xaus, Corser, Haga, C. Checa, Neukirchner and Kiyonari…

Supersport Race

The start is under the sun, which shines more for Rea and Brookes than for Lagrive … Thus, Jonathan’s Honda Ten Kate takes the lead in front of Joshua’s Honda Stiggy and Matthieu’s Honda Intermoto. Van Keymeulen and Veneman keep their Suzuki in front of Holland, Pitt, Harms and Kallio CBRs while Kennaugh’s Yam ‘is 10th…

In the last corner of the 1st lap, Brookes overtakes Rea … In the 2nd lap, the lead of the race changes several times in a row between Josh and John … Behind, Andrew Pitt takes the opportunity to seize quietly – but very efficiently – from 3rd place ahead of Veneman, Lagrive and Van Keymeulen.

From the first braking of the 3rd lap, Pitt surprises Brookes who was then focused on Rea: the two Ten Kates found themselves at the head of the race. In Melbourne, Pitt steals the reins of the race from his young teammate Rea. Followed by the Stiggy, the two CBRs then move away from the rest of the gang…

On the contrary, the Honda de Lagrive struggled to keep pace with the Suz ‘of Veneman and wasted no time in being overtaken by Van Keymeulen. At the start of the 4th lap, Veneman was scared to go around: his GSX-R almost unseated him but Barry managed to keep his fresh 3rd place..

In front, Pitt increased his lead to 8 tenths of a second on the 5th lap. Rea seems unable to retaliate and is dangerously caught by Veneman. Behind, another Suz ‘melts on a CBR: Van Keymeulen has definitely got rid of Lagrive and never takes his eyes off Brookes !

In the 9th lap, while the gaps tended to freeze, Rea finally reacted and climbed half a second from Pitt … In the following lap, Jonathan won another tenth but it was in the 10th lap that the English achieves the feat: in a braking – that of Fogarty Esses always -, Rea makes up for half a second behind and comes out on top of the pif-paf !

Halfway through the race, Rea was leading just ahead of Pitt, Veneman and Brookes. Van Keymeulen is 5th almost 5 seconds ahead of Kennaugh, Harms, Lagrive, Vizziello and Parkes "only" 10th…

Veneman in turn takes action! He does it twice in the superb sequence of mid-course but ends up overtaking Pitt. Barry then pretends to put the brakes on Rea but does not succeed. In fact, it’s Andrew Pitt who manages to surprise Veneman at the end of the 12th straight line and recovers his 2nd place..

The four leading motorcycles roll wheel to wheel: in the "esses du King Fogarty", Pitt overtakes Rea, imitated by the following turn by Veneman. The classification is therefore upset: at the start of the 13th lap, Pitt is 1st ahead of Veneman, Rea and Brookes.

In the next lap, Joshua Brookes wakes up and leaves 4th place he has been occupying for almost 10 laps! Pitt starts to outrun Rea who soon finds himself threatened by a second Australian: the n ° 25 is lodged in the pots of the Ten Kate…

It is in the 16th lap that Brookes jumps on the 2nd step of the podium – at the cost of a nice braking in the Fogarty Esses – and go hunting for Pitt! Veneman has given up a few laps now and secures his 4th place. The same goes for Kennaugh in 5th position and Harms in 6th.

On the other hand Lagrive will have to spit in the gloves to keep his 8th place: Lascorz – leader of the championship for a good part of the season – returns to the French. For our n ° 14 turns in the times of the first !

With three laps to go, patient Brookes finds himself in Pitt’s wheel! A superb mano a mano follows: unleashed, Josh even tries to make the outside to his compatriot in the long straight Coppice ! But that’s ultimately thanks to a more academic interior in the curve Schwantz that Brookes takes command…

Author of a superb race – because it was very well run – Joshua Brookes won the second victory of his career in the World Supersport (after Phillip Island in 2004). Andrew Pitt is perfectly happy with his second place which allows him to increase his lead in the championship over Jonathan Rea, 3rd at Donington Park.

Veneman achieves his best performance of the season finishing 4th ahead of Kennaugh, Harms, Lascorz and Van Keymeulen. Matthieu Lagrive therefore finished 9th ahead of Parkes who lost new big points in the championship…

Andrew Pitt now has 169 points against 137 for Brookes and 133 for Rea. While there are only 3 rounds left, the title should therefore be played between these three Honda, Parkes emerging in 4th position with 119 points.

In terms of manufacturers, Honda takes away its 7th title in a row: with 78 points ahead of Yamaha (240 against 162), the winged brand can no longer be reached! Suzuki is 3rd with 70 points followed by Triumph (61) and Kawasaki (42).

Second Superbike race

As the pilots were getting ready to set off on a dry track, torrential rain disrupted the start procedure. Time to put on rain gums and the pilots are ready again … to set off on a wet track !

The rain is falling hard on Donington Park but it would take more to drown our Superbikes! Determined to "wipe" his blunder in the first round, Kiyonari fits in the wheel of Bayliss, author of a better start than in the first round.

The descent on Old Hairpin runs smoothly: Troy and Ryuichi are followed by the two Ducatis of Max Biaggi and Ruben Xaus, the Honda of Chris Walker and James Ellison, the Yamaha of Troy Corser and a new Honda, that of Cal Crutchlow.

It’s passing the long left Starkey’s Bridge that Kiyonari takes the lead of the race … a head that he will not leave until the end! "I was quite happy it was raining as we knew the bike worked well in the wet", remarked the Japanese after his superb" rodeo on water ".

Behind, Troy Bayliss tries to keep up with the frantic pace of Honda n ° 23. The other Troy – yes, Corser – overtakes his competitors one by one and puts his Yamaha in 3rd position … The rain is still falling hard but the rain tires allow the riders to reach impressive speeds and angles. !

After a good fight of two laps against his teammate Walker, Crutchlow easily got rid of Xaus then installed in 4th place. Cal, well known to the English public, gradually catches up with the two Troys.

It was at the start of the 5th lap that the n ° 35 Honda rider overtook Corser and virtually reached his first podium in the SBK World Cup. But Crutchlow does not demerit: riding his CBR, he offers his audience a real winter sports festival…

However, it is Bayliss who will be credited – despite himself – with the "best glide" of the race: as Ryuichi’s pace drops as parts of the track "dry up", Troy tries to raise his. ! "I lost the rear and fell at high speed, but luckily I didn’t hurt myself", declared the man who remains the undisputed – and undisputed – leader of the championship.

Halfway through the race, Cal Crutchlow climbed the second step of the podium while Troy Corser reached an unexpected 3rd step after six falls this weekend! The Yamaha clan is delighted, especially since Noriyuki Haga was given a black flag a few loops earlier…

"I knew I was going to be penalized by a pit passage but there was so much rain on the first few laps that I couldn’t see if there was a sign for me", recounted Haga. Returning of his own accord to the pits, Haga was still eliminated the next round:"I saw the black flag, I didn’t understand because I had already been through the pits. But not when he apparently wanted to"…

Behind, the ranking has changed a lot: in 4th place, one second behind Corser, we find Leon Haslam. It is followed – at 13 seconds! -, by Max Biaggi, Gregorio Lavilla, James Ellison and Michel Fabrizzio. The Top 10 is therefore made up of 5 Honda, 2 Ducati and 1 Yamaha. The first Suz ‘is that of Tom Sykes in 11th place.

The end of the race is animated by Lavilla, Ellison and Fabrizio, who all want to steal Biaggi for his 5th place! In front, they Corser and Haslam are sailing solo … but are not immune to damage! Kiyonari meanwhile has to fight hard to maintain his one-second lead over the hot Crutchlow !

While the two Honda’s twirl around on a track that is sometimes almost dry and sometimes quite soggy, Haslam has to abandon his 4th place, three laps from the checkered flag! Ellison, the fastest man at the very end of the race, is placed at the foot of the podium and has nothing to fear from Fabrizio, Biaggi and Lavilla with whom he was fighting a few laps earlier.

In the end, Ryuichi Kiyonari wins for the third time this season ahead of the regional stage Cal Crutchlow and the old sea dog who has never lived up to his name: Troy Corser !

In the championship, Troy Bayliss (359 pts) despite his fall in the second round consolidates his lead! He now leads by 101 points ahead of Troy Corser (258) who eclipsed Max Neukirchner (254). The German scored only two small points this Sunday.

Carlos Checa (240) does not do much better with seven points scored but the Spaniard remains 4th in front of Haga whose score has not changed (230)! Fonsi Nieto and Max Biaggi are now tied on points (192) but the Roman Emperor is counting on "his" test at Vallelunga to further progress in the standings…

On the manufacturers’ side, Ducati still leads with 439 points on the clock against 366 for Yamaha, 335 for Honda, 329 for Suzuki and 69 for Kawasaki. Next meeting for the World Superbike: September 19-20-21 on the Italian track of Vallelunga !

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