Mondial Superbike: re-Born in the USA !
Before the United States, Troy Bayliss had a comfortable 78-point lead over Carlos Checa in the provisional standings. In two races, this advantage melted like snow in the sun. When the American dream turns into a nightmare: report.
Six years after the Olympic Games, Salt Lake City hosted this weekend the 6th round of the World Superbike. A return to the United States after four years of absence (read) which has kept all its promises !
On Friday, Troy Bayliss was the fastest at the controls of his official Ducati Xerox ahead of his compatriot Troy Corser (Yamaha Italia), the Spaniard Carlos Checa (Honda Ten Kate) and two other 1098: those of Smrz and Fabrizio !
The next day, Corser set the best time in the second qualifying session, but Carlos Checa took pole position in the Superpole event. The n ° 7 Honda signs a breathtaking lap of 1’48.193 !
At 3 tenths is Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Alstare) and the two 1098 F08 of Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio. In the second row are Troy Corser, Ruben Xaus (Ducati Sterilgarda), Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Corse) and Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare).
Max Biaggi (Ducati Sterilgarda) leads the 3rd row, followed by the incredible Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Italia): the Japanese, who left at the fault on Saturday morning, suffers from a broken collarbone but still signs the tenth fastest time !
Jakob Smrz (Ducat Guandilini) is 11th ahead of Karl Muggeridge (Honda DF Racing). The two riders of the Yamaha GMT94 team are 24th (Sebastien Gimbert) and 26th (David Checa). The last Frenchie, Loïc Napoleone (Yamaha Grillini), will start from 27th place.
First Superbike race
Following a gearbox problem on the Ducati n ° 84 from Fabrizio, a second start was given. Instead of lasting 21 laps, this first round will therefore be contested over 20 laps…
Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi get the best start, but from the second corner, Max Neukirchner slips his Suzuki between the two Ducatis. Behind, Haga, Checa and Corser place themselves under the pots of the Roman Emperor while Regis Laconi makes an effort to stay in contact with this first group..
"The start was quite tense because we all entered the first corner a little too hard.", admits Corser at the end of the race:"I ended up hitting Carlos (Checa) in the second corner, I almost fell and lost some ground".
At the end of the first loop, Bayliss and Neukirchner widened the gap on Biaggi. The Italian is put under pressure by his comrade from MotoGP: Carlos Checa. Behind, Laconi tries to keep pace with the two official Yamaha.
And at the end of the first straight line, Suzuki n ° 76 passed in front of Ducati n ° 21, while Honda n ° 7 manages to overtake Ducati n ° 3! In the following sequence, Corser on his Yamaha n ° 11 in turn doubles the Ducati de Biaggi.
Then Nitro Nori goes on the attack: "as always, Haga made a haphazard attempt, he hit my bike with his front wheel", regrets Biaggi, forced to widen and goes beyond the vibrators! The Italian loses precious seconds and seriously downgrades in the standings: he goes from 5th to 17th place !
Meanwhile, Neukirchner quietly tries to pack up. Unable to react, Troy Bayliss held Checa at a reasonable distance while the Spaniard was followed more closely by Corser. Behind, Haga is fighting for 5th place against Laconi and Nieto.
On the second lap, Fonsi took advantage of the asp and the good braking stability of his GSX-R to pass Regis who was fighting with – or rather against – his Ninja. In front, the gaps between the leading trio have not moved but Troy Corser seems to let go.
In the double left, Carlos Checa passes inside Troy Bayliss. The dolphin has many points to catch up on the reigning champion! And he seems determined to remedy it, passing the leading man – Neukirchner for those who do not follow – in the same double left the following lap.
Still in 7th position, Regis Laconi gave up a few lengths to his ex-teammate Fonsi Nieto. The Spaniard on his Suzuki n ° 10 is in the wheel of Haga who is fighting a good battle despite his injury.
Carlos Checa sets the fastest time in the race in the fourth lap (1’50.091) and gradually grabs a few tenths from his two "double" direct competitors: not only on the track, but also in the championship. However, Troy Bayliss does not hear it that way and does not take long to overtake the young German who has been taking quite defensive trajectories for a few laps..
It was in this 4th lap that Regis Laconi made a mistake. Kneeling, the Frenchman gets up with difficulty and walks away from the track, limping laboriously … "I had a good start but the long straight didn’t allow me to keep my position. After the first lap I recovered my 7th place and attacked as hard as I could until the 5th lap, where the bike started to slide a lot and knocked me off the boat.", will summarize the Meusien (see our video interview).
A few seconds later, another rider frightened us even more: the Ducati n ° 21 started in the high side by starting the long straight line and made Bayliss fall on the track: Neukirchner, Corser, Haga, Nieto then Smrz succeeded. to avoid it !
Instinctively, the Australian crouched in the opposite direction of travel, let Muggeridge pass on his left and Fabrizio on his right, then got out of this trap! Much more fear than harm for the leader of the category, who lets his rivals (Checa and Neukirchner) escape to a probable podium…
"I fell the same way as yesterday which is strange", simply declares the two-time champion, visibly the victim of a malfunction of his traction control…
A minute passes … and it’s Noriyuki Haga’s turn to bite the dust! Fortunately, the Japanese rider also came out of his mishap unscathed, just like Jakob Smrz who did not go far from the Japanese’s Yamaha. !
"I lost the grip in the same turn as on Saturday, I think I opened the throttle a little too early on the maximum angle"Says Noriyuki, who fortunately did not fall on her already broken right collarbone….
At the end of the 6th lap, Checa leads the race comfortably: El Torro is more than 2 seconds ahead of Neukirchner, followed closely by Corser. Behind, Smrz inherits 4th place while Muggeridge is 5th, Fabrizio 6th, Lanzi 7th, Nieto 8th, Sofuoglu 9th and Aoyama 10th.
Biaggi moved up to 11th place just behind Kagayama. Sebastien "Starsky" Gimbert is 23rd and Loïc Napoleone 25th. David "Hutch" Checa was 26th, but had to retire: "at the start of the first round, we had to start our motorcycles very early, 2 to 3 minutes before the others, because we did not have the portable starter in the USA. A priori, that doesn’t have too many consequences, but the start was delayed and it is with motorcycles displaying 110 ° on the dashboard that Sebastien and David take the start … After a few laps, David returns to the pits : the engine having overheated, the loss of power worried him and he decided to withdraw, which was the right decision, specifies the official website of GMT94.
At the start of the 7th lap, Michel Fabrizio brakes Karl Muggeridge and takes 5th place. In front of the Italian, less than 2 seconds, is the first Ducati: the – private – of Smrz. For Fabrizio, this is the occasion or never to remind Ducati Corse that we can count on him !
In front, like a metronome, Carlos Checa moves away from the Neukirchner duo who sees Corser approaching, slowly but surely. Less slowly but just as surely, Fabrizio nibbles the lead that the Ducati n ° 96 has over its 1098 n ° 84: from 2.3 seconds on the 9th lap, it drops to 1.5 seconds on the following lap !
On the 11th lap, Jacob Smrz was only 1.3 seconds ahead of Michel Fabrizio. Boosted, the Italian reduced this gap by half a second in the following lap before seizing, in this same 12th lap, 4th place in the race !
Checa takes his lead to more than 5 seconds over Neukirchner, who until now had managed to keep Corser’s # 11 R1 within 1 second of his pots … But in the 14th lap, the Yamaha rider got closer to a half second of the GSX-R !
Immediately, the young German responds and for the first time since the first laps, turns faster than Carlos Checa who still has to manage his lead. But the old Croco posted in 3rd position does not let go, quite the contrary: he crunches a few more lengths and lands in the asp of Suzuki n ° 76 … "At the end of the race, I had problems with the front tire and I could not attack as I wanted", underlines the new star of the World Superbike.
It was in the 15th lap that Troy attacked and took second place! Unfortunately for him, Max is not at the end of his troubles: in the shadow of this sumptuous battle, Michel Fabrizio returns to a second from the podium !
Four laps from the checkered flag, the Ducati n ° 84 continues its fantastic ride and still takes ground from the Suzuki n ° 76 … In the following loop, the Italian lodges under the pots of the German and the pass without asking for the rest.
Behind, the ranking changed little: only the Ducati de Smrz, Lanzi and Xaus gave up places (respectively one to Nieto, two to Biaggi then Kiyonari and one to Nakatomi). As for Fabrizio’s, it remains firmly anchored on the third step of the podium. !
Carlos Checa therefore won his first World Superbike victory, the 99th for Honda! "At first it was hard to widen the gap, but I did. Afterwards, it was even harder to concentrate and control the tire wear.", explains the one who had not won a race since the GP of Catalonia in … 1998 !
Troy Corser also obtained his best result of the season, as did Michel Fabrizio who completed the podium. Neukirchner finished 4th, far ahead of Nieto and the Smrz, Muggeridge and Kagayama trio.
On the French side, Sebastien Gimbert failed in 18th place, 6 seconds from the first point, despite an engine that remained "at 109 ° throughout the race". Loïc Napoleone, on his R1 Grillini, finished last, 1’12 behind Carlos Checa.
First round SBK Salt Lake City:
|1||Checa C.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||37 ‘04.991||20|
|2||Corser T.||Yamaha Motor Italia||+ 2.809||20|
|3||Fabrizio M.||Ducati Xerox||+ 6.546||20|
|4||Neukirchner M.||Suzuki alstare||+ 7.764||20|
|5||Nieto F.||Suzuki alstare||+ 16,475||20|
|6||Smrz J.||Ducati Guandilini||+ 17,126||20|
|7||Muggeridge K.||Honda DF Racing||+ 17,284||20|
|8||Kagayama Y.||Suzuki alstare||+ 17,416||20|
|9||Biaggi M.||Ducati Sterilgarda Go Eleven||+ 18,117||20|
|10||Kiyonari R.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||+ 20,467||20|
|11||Lanzi L.||Ducati RG Team||+ 21,742||20|
|12||Sofuoglu K.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||+ 27,533||20|
|13||Lavilla G.||Honda Ventaxia VK||+ 32,609||20|
|14||Xaus R.||Ducati Sterilgarda Go Eleven||+ 33,165||20|
|15||Holland R.||Honda DF Racing||+ 34,182||20|
|18||Gimbert S.||Yamaha France GMT 94||+ 41,685||20|
|24||Napoleone L.||Yamaha Grillini||+ 1 ‘12,258||20|
|–||Checa D.||Yamaha France GMT 94||–||6|
|–||Laconi R.||Kawasaki PSG-1 Corsica||–||4|
Superpole: 1 ‘48.193 – Checa – Honda
Best round of the round: 1 ‘50.091 – Checa – Honda (4th round)
Best lap in previous race: New circuit
Second Superbike race
Once again, Ducati n ° 21 dominates the competition and Ducati n ° 3 climbs under the pot of Honda n ° 7! But Carlos Checa – the famous n ° 7 – goes way too hard in the first corner and has to widen considerably. Troy Bayliss retains lead as compatriot Corser cleanly doubles Biaggi.
From the next turn, Max Neukirchner in turn passed Max Biaggi who found himself just in front of his teammate Ruben Xaus. Behind, Carlos Checa tries his best to come back to Haga and Nieto.
Halfway through, Corser took the lead and left Bayliss to explain himself with Neukirchner’s GSX-R. In the first straight line, the Ducati does not resist the Japanese 4-cylinder and the German takes second place.
In the following lap, apart from a great fear of Corser in a sharp change of angle, the situation at the front of the race tends to stabilize. But that’s without counting the return of the hot Spanish Carlos Checa, who easily gets rid of Nieto, Haga then Xaus and joins the pots of Biaggi’s 1098 at the end of the second round. !
On the 3rd pass, it’s the Yamaha 4-cylinder’s turn to give way under the power of the Suzuki 4-cylinder! Neukirchner therefore turns in the lead ahead of the two Troys, Corser and Bayliss. Pushed by Checa, Biaggi climbs back up to the top three. On the contrary, Haga loses contact with the Honda. Japanese is followed by Nieto and Laconi !
The 4th passage allows you to appreciate the fight between two GP legends: Biaggi and Checa! Neck to neck in the straight line, Max is finally unhooked by Carlos under braking. Checa therefore becomes 4th and goes hunting for Troys…
Bayliss also took advantage of the passage in "his" favorite double left to take second place from Corser. The championship leader gave up 25 points to Checa in the first round, and he intends to recover some in this second round..
On the first braking of the 5th lap, Carlos Checa passed Troy Corser impeccably. The two pilots brush against each other at full speed in the wide left, Corser remains on the outside but cannot attempt anything in the following right. And in less time than it takes to say it, Checa gets into the wheel of Bayliss !
The n ° 21, precisely, turns around furtively and comes face to face with his enemy n ° … 7! Big mistake on the part of the Ducati official who negotiates the braking less well on the angle arriving on his right: the Spaniard shifts slightly and passes the Australian !
In the left which follows immediately, Troy manages to regain the advantage but already looms a right-left pif-paf which allows Carlos to get back in front! Fatally, this superb battle benefits the leading man: Max Neukirchner has a small second and a half ahead of the peloton made up of Checa, Bayliss, Corser and Biaggi !
Behind, Haga shows remarkable fighting spirit: despite his broken collarbone and his fall in the first round, the Japanese rider is fighting for 6th place, just ahead of Xaus but far ahead of Laconi, Kagayama, Fabrizio Nieto and Sofuoglu. Sebastien Gimbert, who missed his start, is making his way among the last: he is 24th.
In this decidedly very lively 5th lap, Ruben Xaus goes high side … Stunned, the Spaniard goes out on all fours and stretches a few centimeters from the track. "I wanted to keep my position and go on the attack in the second half of the race", will specify later the Ducati rider, who comes out with a bruise on the left ankle…
But a new surprise has already erased the misadventure of pilot n ° 111: Troy Bayliss raises his hand and rolls on the edge of the track! The problem probably comes from his gearbox, the Australian inspecting his selector for a long time and stamping with his left foot…
The Kangaroo will still go to his stand, where his shifter problem will be resolved. "I thought I might as well go back, even if I couldn’t score any points", explained the double champion. And for good reason: he will finish the race two laps from the first, in 22nd and last place…
For the third time in a row, the category leader does not score any points. The farewell season becomes more complicated for those who wish to win three world titles riding three different Ducatis: the 916, the 999 and the 1098…
Corser thus inherits for the moment the third step of the podium and all the drivers – except Neukirchner and Checa, of course – gain a place! Biaggi wasted no time in winning a second as he managed to surprise Corser on the brakes. Could the Italian return to a podium that has escaped him for ten races ?
And during all this time, Checa was able to grab meter after meter the lead Neukirchner had over him. The first third of the race is completed and a new duel between Checa and Neukirchner – after that of Valence then that of Assen – looms for the victory…
On the 9th lap, Carlos Checa took control of the race. Behind him, Max takes different paths and tries to get past Carlos, but nothing helps, not even the Suzuki’s top top speed! At the end of the straight line, the Spanish brakes harder than the German and retains the first place.
Behind the infernal duo, the trio Biaggi, Corser and Haga continue their fight for 3rd place … But a danger awaits them: Michel Fabrizio! Again the author of a bad start, he is the only representative of the Ducati factory and the n ° 84 is noticed by signing times comparable to those of the two leading men. !
The fastest man on the track is still Carlos Checa, who in his 11th lap sets the best time of the heat: an impressive 1’49.703! Halfway through the race, Checa was thus one second ahead of Neukirchner and 4.8 seconds over Max Biaggi. The Roman Emperor is followed like his shadow by Troy Corser but Noriyuki Haga, he let go.
Eight laps from the end, however, Haga manages to catch his teammate’s aspiration. Regulated like clockwork, Fabrizio takes half a second per lap in Haga: at this rate, Michel could well climb the podium a second time. !
In the next loop, Corser regains his 3rd place from Biaggi. In front, Checa escaped: he quickly gained more than 3 seconds ahead of Max Neukirchner. It is therefore behind that the show is most interesting. In "performance" this afternoon, Fabrizio makes short work of Haga and prepares to devour Biaggi, then first Ducati rider.
Signing times very close to the record set by Checa (1’49.8 on his last lap), Fabrizio took advantage of Biaggi’s gap in a bend to melt inside the Ducati n ° 3 from the next bend! Housed in the bubble of his 1098 F08, Fabrizio is now aiming for Corser’s R1…
But the battle between the Australian Croco and the Italian Hurricane came to an end in the last corner of the 16th lap: a little wider than usual, Troy bites into the dust and loses the front wheel. He slips off the track and can’t start again…
"We changed the fork settings between the two sleeves and it was better, except it warned me a little less well", explains Corser. Fabrizio is therefore well and truly on his 2nd consecutive podium. !
Three laps from the checkered flag, Checa secured a good lead: 4.5 seconds over Neukirchner, 8.3 over Fabrizio and 9.2 over Biaggi. Haga and his faithful R1 are 5th (11.5 s) ahead of Kagayama on his GSX-R and Kiyonari on his CBR! As for our compatriots Laconi, Gimbert and Napoleone, they are respectively 8th, 17th and 21st.
In the last two laps, the suspense at the forefront is maintained by two men: Fabrizio who tries to get back on Neukirchner and Kagayama who easily returns to his great friend Haga. And it is in the penultimate straight line that Suzuki n ° 34 overtakes Yamaha n ° 41!
Yukio steals Nitro Nori his 5th place: "I knew he was driving with a broken collarbone, he was probably in pain, but I had to pass him. As I passed him, I said "Sorry Nori!". I felt bad, but I know he would have done the same if the tables had been turned".
"In Miller it seems that the grip doesn’t change with the temperature and it stayed good enough to give me my best time on the last lap.", also remarks Yukio.
In front, Carlos Checa signed his first double in the World Superbike in front of Max Neukirchner and Michel Fabrizio. "These are my first victories outside of Spain", recalls Carlos Checa who dedicates these two successes to his friend Wayne Rainey.
Max Biaggi took 4th place ahead of the three Japanese Kagayama, Haga and Kiyonari while Nieto finished 8th just ahead of Laconi: "it’s funny because my best lap was my last", notes Fonsi !
Despite the late loss of his 8th place, Regis looks very happy: "taking into account my physical condition (see our video interview), I am fully satisfied with my 9th place and I am happy to have fought to the end against Nieto and Kiyonari", declares the No. 55 of the Greens.
The championship is therefore completely relaunched: still first with 194 points, Troy Bayliss is only 28 points ahead of Carlos Checa! Max Neukirchner continues his progression and moves from 4th to 3rd place with 144 points.
Noriyuki Haga (122 points) loses two places and becomes 5th behind Fonsi Nieto (126). Troy Corser remains 6th (121) while a great battle opposes three Ducati riders: Xaus (92), Fabrizio (87) and Biaggi (85). Among the French, Laconi defends his 18th place and Gimbert remains 23rd.
On the constructors’ side, Ducati increases its lead in the championship by two points against Yamaha: 249 against 201. Suzuki is still third (191) but Honda (185) is coming back strong thanks to Checa’s double. Kawasaki brings up the rear with 51 points.
Second round SBK Salt Lake City:
|1||Checa C.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||38 ‘44.105||21|
|2||Neukirchner M.||Suzuki alstare||+ 3,547||21|
|3||Fabrizio M.||Ducati Xerox||+ 6,613||21|
|4||Biaggi M.||Ducati Sterilgarda Go Eleven||+ 7.878||21|
|5||Kagayama Y.||Suzuki alstare||+ 10,568||21|
|6||Haga N.||Yamaha Motor Italia||+ 11,539||21|
|7||Kiyonari R.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||+ 18,381||21|
|8||Nieto F.||Suzuki alstare||+ 20,646||21|
|9||Laconi R.||Kawasaki PSG-1||+ 21,264||21|
|10||Lanzi L.||Ducati RG Team||+ 24,863||21|
|11||Muggeridge K.||Honda DF Racing||+ 25,672||21|
|12||Badovini A.||Kawasaki Pedercini||+ 31,711||21|
|13||Tamada M.||Kawasaki PSG-1||+ 35,628||21|
|14||Sofuoglu K.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||+ 42,816||21|
|15||Lavilla G.||Honda Ventaxia VK||+ 45,034||21|
|17||Gimbert S.||Yamaha France GMT 94||+ 50,653||21|
|21||Napoleone L.||Yamaha Grillini||+ 1 ‘19,221||21|
|–||Checa D.||Yamaha France GMT 94||–||–|
Superpole: 1 ‘48.193 – Checa – Honda
Best round of the round: 1 ‘49.703 – Checa – Honda (11th lap)
Best lap in previous race: 1 ‘50.091 – Checa – Honda (2008)
2008 SBK World Drivers Ranking:
|1||Bayliss T.||Ducati Xerox||194|
|2||Checa C.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||166|
|3||Neukirchner M.||Suzuki alstare||144|
|4||Nieto F.||Suzuki alstare||126|
|5||Haga N.||Yamaha Motor Italia||122|
|6||Corser T.||Yamaha Motor Italia||121|
|7||Xaus R.||Ducati Sterilgarda Go Eleven||92|
|8||Fabrizio M.||Ducati Xerox||87|
|9||Biaggi M.||Ducati Sterilgarda Go Eleven||85|
|10||Kiyonari R.||Honda Hannspree Ten Kate||80|
|11||Kagayama Y.||Suzuki alstare||73|
|12||Lavilla G.||Honda Ventaxia VK||63|
|13||Lanzi L.||Ducati RG Team||60|
|14||Smrz J.||Ducati Guandilini||51|
|15||Muggeridge K.||Honda DF Racing||49|
|18||Laconi R.||Kawasaki PSG-1 Corsica||28|
|23||Gimbert S.||Yamaha GMT94||6|
|24||Checa D.||Yamaha GMT94||5|
|25||Beck M.||Yamaha GMT94||1|
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