Monday, April 28, 2008

WSBK Assen: Battered Bayliss Brilliant

Troy Bayliss was riding injured at Assen, having clipped a drainage cover on his bicycle while zooming downhill with his hands off the bars and landed on his rear end in the gutter. You'd never know from his pace, because the Aussie's still got it. Not in the Alex Barros version of a veteran rider still having it, where he's quick when the Moon is in Capricorn and the wind is blowing from the North-Northwest. He's still got it in a championship-winning kind of way.

Bayliss is hot favourite for this year's World Superbike title, leading by 70 points. His main rivals are nowhere. Nori Haga managed to punt himself and Ruben Xaus off the track in race 1 (when was the last time that Xaus fell off and it wasn't his fault?), and could only trail in 2nd in race 2. The Japanese rider has simply racked up too many DNF's to be any kind of threat to Bayliss. Max Biaggi is still suffering from the broken wrist he suffered in his monster Phillip Island crash. The Roman Emperor did better than expected at Assen, which is notoriously physical due to the high speed corners and chicanes, but his title challenge is now very weak. Carlos Checa is quick, but somehow not entirely convincing as a title challenger.

Eurosport's TV commentary duo, the hilarious pairing of Jack Burnicle and James Whitham, summed it up with one of their typical exchanges, when Burnicle pointed out that Ten Kate Honda haven't been doing too well this year:

Whitham: That's because they don't have Toseland this year.
Burnicle: They have Carlos Checa.
Whitham: Exactly.

Max Neukirchner (can't believe I manage to spell that first time) has hit a fine run of form since joining the Alstare Suzuki team and acquiring one of their factory-backed missiles. The German might have been rammed by part-time idiot Checa last time out, but he has recovered well and still threatens to take a race win some time this year.

Yukio Kagayama led race 1 for a while, before having a huge moment in the final chicane. Yukio is always terrifying to watch, as he keeps on crashing and usually manages to hurt himself. Somehow he stayed on the bike after being halfway over the highside, but could only take 4th.

Really, it was all about Bayliss. This is his last year of World Supers, and he's still an absolute hero. Not just one of the quickest riders around, he's also one of the gutsiest, and easily the most likeable. His team-mate Michel Fabrizio had an awful day, suffering from some kind of arm problem that requires an operation. What the hell are Ducati going to do when Troy retires?


Nicebloke said...

I bet Ducati are kicking themselves they didn't take Neil Hodgson instead of Fabrizio. I've never been a particularly big fan of his to be honest, and pulling a Lanzi isn't helping his cause.

Jimmy said...

Yeah, Fabrizio seems to go well at Brno and then be rubbish for the rest of the year. What is it with Ducati hiring Italians who can't ride Ducatis to save themselves? They only ever win championships with Brits and Aussies for some reason.

Ducati had better be looking around for a possible 2009 WSBK champion to hire, though. Maybe Hodgson is in with a shout.