Tuesday, June 03, 2008

WSBK: Checa Doubles in Mormon Country

The Yanks had their first look at World Superbikes for 4 years when the championship rolled into Utah's Miller Motorsport Park. Reformed kamikaze Carlos Checa ran off with a double victory. Here are a few of the talking points.

Checa 2, Rest of the World 0
A dominant performance by Carlos Checa. I don't know if he was trying to hit Max Neukirchner on the way past, but he missed and disappeared off into the distance. Of course, he has nicknames such as Carlos Crasher, not Carlos Consistent. Who knows whether he'll keep this up?

Bayliss 1, Ducati 1.
That's the score in terms of DNF's. The Aussie chucked his bike down the road in race 1, and had to invent a few dance steps to avoid being run over by the following pack. In race 2, the Ducati conked out. Troy went back out and completed the race, two laps down. Maybe just because he felt like it. 50 points down the drain, but he's still favourite for the title.

Neukirchner back on the box
The podium, that is. German Max has really blossomed on the Alstare Suzuki. No wonder the team have signed him up on a longer contract. He's the most promising young rider in the championship this year, looking like he should bag a title or two in the future. For some bone-headed reason (money), Max Biaggi dumped the team. Francis Batta won't be missing the little Roman Emperor, because his new Max is a star.

Haga is a raving lunatic
Noriyuki Haga is tough, we already knew that. But the Samurai of Slide raced with a freshly broken collar bone in Utah, and it didn't slow him down all that much. He fell off in race 1 (which he tends to do with an intact skeleton anyway) and he struggled towards the end of race 2, being overtaken by his great buddy Yukio Kagayama (who didn't have any broken bones for a change). The word "tough" doesn't begin to describe this Japanese nutter. Brilliant.

Fabrizio reappears
Ducati's number 2 rider Michel Fabrizio has been AWOL in WSBK for a while, but re-appeared in fine style to climb onto the podium in America. This may well be due to the wide, swooping racing line and high speed flip-flops at Miller, which are reminiscent of Brno, the only track where Fabrizio usually shines. Does this mean that Michel will be performing to the full capabilities of his Ducati? Nah!

Miller Motorsport Park: the verdict
It's a good track, that provided decent racing, especially on the fast flip-flop where Troy Corser kept overtaking people. Wide and swoopy, plus the commentators have to make arses of themselves calling the corners by their deeply stupid names. "First Attitude", "Second Attitude" and "Bad Attitude"??? Crazy names serve to brighten up the track, which is slightly featureless due to being on an enormous plain surrounded by stunning mountains in the distance. It's pretty long at over 3 miles, which means the spectators are a bit strung out, but there are excellent runoff areas, making this track massively safer than typical American tracks like Laguna Seca because there's simply nothing to hit. You can still land on your collar bone, of course, but no crashers were hurt worse than Haga, and he didn't even seem to mind that.

This taste of WSBK will hopefully energize the American market. There is already talk of a US-based team entering the championship, and at least 2 top American racers looking seriously at WSBK with its 210-220bhp, 200mph bikes looking outrageously fast and fun compared to the AMA's preferred 2009 formula which is essentially 600cc Superstock. Let's hope the Yanks enjoyed this one, as it is the best possible time for WSBK to make an impact on that side of the pond.

1 comment:

Nicebloke said...

I was there and had a good time. The track was impressive but a bit soulless and short of truly awesome spectator points. The event very well-run. I'm glad to have WSBK back over here.

And Boulder Motorsports, who run Marty Craggill on a Duc 848 in Formula Xtreme have confirmed that they will be joing WSBK next year. Their facilities served as Ducati's main hospitality area at Miller, indicative of a close relationship between BMS and the factory already.