Monday, September 10, 2007

WSBK: Haga And Bayliss Dominate In Deutschland

The German meeting of the World Superbike championship started off with Superpole cancelled in favour of a standard 12-lap qualifying session due to a biblical downpour drenching the Lausitzring.
In the wet qualifying, Troy Bayliss managed to stall his Xerox Ducati at the end of the pitlane, forcing his mechanics to sprint full tilt down the entire pitlane with the starter engine. However, just as they arrived, the Pedercini Ducati team nipped out of their nearby pit garage and started up Bayliss's bike for them. It was a great example of the friendly competition in WSBK, and I'm sure the Xerox boys enjoyed the exercise! The rest of the qualifying session involved virtually everybody falling off on the slippy track. Yukio Kagayama ruled himself out again after breaking a bone again, while Karl Muggeridge dislocated a shoulder, which luckily popped itself back in. Kawasaki's Fonsi Nieto took pole and Regis Laconi 2nd by putting in decent laps when the other riders were busy chucking their bikes down the street.

In Race 1, there was the usual hectic Lausitzring start as the field funnelled into the swooping downhill chicane to start the lap. Max Biaggi made an outstanding start from the 2nd row to enter the corner 2nd behind Bayliss. The Italian was lucky to be in the race at all, as he stalled his Suzuki on the grid and had to be rescued by his mechanics bringing the starter engine so he could take part in the formation lap. Troy Corser somehow hung onto a near-highside and swerved wildly across the track, somehow missing everybody but baulking a few of them.
Nori Haga managed to battle through to 2nd on his Yamaha and take off after Bayliss, but the Aussie was disappearing into the distance. However, there had been hardly any dry practise, so nobody really knew whether their tyres would last. Bayliss fell foul of this when his tyre went off and he dropped back into Haga's clutches. The little samurai battled past Bayliss to take the victory, which he dedicated to a Japanese friend who died in a bike testing crash recently.
Biaggi and Corser were battling for 3rd place when Bayliss started slowing, and the Ducati rider could do nothing to hold them off. Max took 2nd place complaining of a minor gearshift problem, while Corser had to settle for 3rd as he couldn't match the straight-line speed and late braking of Biaggi's Suzuki. Bayliss finished 4th.
Ruben Xaus had been pushing hard, slamming Nieto out of his way with a brutal move. The crazy Catalan was right behind Biaggi when he did the usual and fell off. After excavating the bike from the soggy grass, Xaus restarted and took 12th.
Championship leader James Toseland had a nightmare with a badly vibrating tyre. He was even overtaken by the erratic Michel Fabrizio, who soon proceeded to fall off the bike. The young Italian remounted but couldn't restart, so he childishly smashed the screen and dropped the bike on the ground, just missing a marshal's feet. Toseland finished in a miserable 9th.

Race 2 started in much the same way, with Bayliss taking an early lead and Max Biaggi making another lightning start from row 2. Again, Bayliss took the Ducati to a lead of around 2 seconds, and again Nori Haga reeled him in. Bayliss had a big moment when the bike slewed sideways under braking and he just managed to get round the corner with the bike stood up and his foot on the ground, while Haga sneaked past. However, this time Bayliss could stay right with Haga's Yamaha, thanks to a harder tyre. After following in 2nd place for a while, Bayliss shoved past Haga and took off again to take the victory. This was the Aussie's 40th win in 120 starts, which even I can work out as an incredible 1 in 3 record.
Max Biaggi took a lonely 3rd place, not too bad for somebody who had never seen the track before and had extremely limited set-up time. The Italian controlled the gap back to Toseland and Corser and stayed in front, despite complaining of more gearshift problems. The Englishman managed to hold off the Aussie to keep 4th place. Corser was much faster in some areas of the track, but just couldn't squeeze past and had to settle for 5th. Behind him, Ruben Xaus managed to stay on the bike to finish 6th.

The racing in Germany wasn't brilliant by WSBK standards, largely due to the lack of dry set-up time resulting in big differences in lap times. Bayliss showed his typical never say die spirit to take his 40th win, while Haga managed to slash Toseland's points lead from 66 to 41 points. The Englishman won't be panicking, but another weekend like that could see Haga and Biaggi breathing right down his neck in the title race.


Anonymous said...

so what is going to happen to Zemke?

He is third in the points...

thank for you blog, its great.

Jimmy said...

I don't know about Zemke, I'm sure somebody in the AMA will give him a ride.