Tuesday, July 24, 2007

WSBK: Toseland and Max Share Spoils at Brno

Qualifying for the World Superbike meeting at Brno in the Czech Republic saw Max Biaggi break the lap record, only for Nori Haga to destroy even Biaggi's time with the first ever sub-2 minute lap of Brno on a superbike.
This track is very much Biaggi territory, as he came to the meeting with 7 wins under his belt in 250GP, 500GP and MotoGP, by far the best record of any WSBK runner. If he wanted to add to this tally, he would have to do battle with polesitter Nori Haga, 2006 racewinner Yukio Kagayama and championship leader James Toseland.

Race One saw Biaggi make his usual excellent start on his Corona Suzuki, but he managed to keep up the pace through the opening laps rather than dropping back as he has tended to do this season. A group of four quickly formed at the front, with Toseland's Ten Kate Honda starting to break away at the front, followed by a dogfight between Yamaha rider Haga and Biaggi, with his Suzuki team-mate Kagayama managing to cling on in 4th.
There is no love lost between Nori Haga and Max Biaggi. Last time out at Misano, Max made an optimistic move on Nori that left them both in the gravel trap. The Roman Emperor then enraged his Japanese opponent by refusing to apologize, claiming that he was only 65% responsible for the crash (about 35% less than most observers would say). To a Japanese racer like Nori, crashes are disappointing but the refusal to offer even an unconvincing apology causes grave personal offence. If Haga was Texan, he would surely challenge Max to a duel.
At first, Toseland stretched out a convincing lead, but Max got the better of Haga and set off in pursuit. Biaggi managed to take the lead, and Toseland seemed to be in trouble as he dropped to 4th, then proved he was in no trouble at all as he fought right back to the front when Max ran wide.
Kagayama wasn't giving up on his hopes yet, and made a banzai manoeuvre to slam his bike in front of a clearly unimpressed Haga, who tried to fight back but was suffering tyre problems and dropping off the pace.
On the last lap, Kagayama was in a safe 3rd while Biaggi and Toseland were battling for the win. The Englishman was trying very hard and looking a little ragged, and when he ran off the edge of the track he kicked up a shower of dust and gravel into the Roman's bike. Max visibly flinched as a stone shattered his screen and slammed into his left hand. It was nothing too serious (after the race, Max showed us a bleeding finger), but it might just have distracted him enough to stop a last-ditch pass, and he followed Toseland across the line.
It was a valuable win for Toseland, who increased his championship lead. His rival Troy Bayliss had an awful race, with the Ducati unsuited to this track. He was well down the field when he was hit by Karl Muggeridge's bike. "Muggas" had fallen off was already sliding several yards behind his machine by the time it hit the Ducati. Bayliss didn't seem at all bothered, and later revealed that he had thanked Karl for ending such a miserable race!
Max took his 11th Brno podium with an excellent performance, while his team-mate Kagayama was back on form after spending most of the year falling off and hurting himself.

Race Two started in bizarre fashion as light rain caused the race to be delayed and declared a wet race, only for the clouds to pass and the conditions to remain perfectly dry.
Lorenzo Lanzi made a great start and briefly led before the Ducati inevitably dropped back after a few corners. The two Yamahas of Haga and Corser were leading from Toseland when Corser suffered yet another mechanical failure and dropped out. Biaggi in 3rd place was staying in touch.
Haga looked like he might be able to stay in front this time, but his arch-enemy Max Biaggi was ominously moving forward, first past Toseland then past the Japanese rider into the lead, where he was relatively safe from flying rocks (unless there were any Valentino Rossi fans in the crowd...)
Haga then lost out to the battling Toseland, and then lost his podium place to Michel Fabrizio's DFX Honda. Fabrizio is one of the more infuriating riders in World Superbike, who is highly rated by many, seemingly for his ability to race well at Brno despite being embarrassingly rubbish everywhere else. He kept up this record to grab 3rd.
Up front, Biaggi crossed the line to take his 8th Brno win in all classes, and his second World Superbike victory of the season.
Toseland had to settle for 2nd place, giving him a championship lead of 43 points ahead of Biaggi, who sits just 2 points in front of his pal Haga.
Next time out, Brands Hatch.


Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

Great comment ... I am not able to watch the WSBK races so I just read results and ....comments, especially when they can transmit the adrenaline of the race to the reader.

Jimmy said...