Monday, October 06, 2008

WSBK: Magny Cours Goes Baylisstic

Noriyuki Haga and Troy Bayliss shared the spoils as the World Superbike championship visited Magny Cours, France. A podium finish in the first race was all it took for Bayliss to lift his third World Superbike title. Haga had taken pole position for the meeting, ahead of Fonsi Nieto, Bayliss and Carlos Checa. Troy Corser, who started the day with a mathematical chance of winning the championship, started 12th after falling in Superpole.

Race 1
Troy Bayliss made his usual "Baylisstic" start to lead the field into turn one on his Xerox Ducati, ahead of Alstare Suzuki's Fonsi Nieto, Noriyuki Haga on a Santander Yamaha and Carlos Checa on his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda. It was Haga who made the first move, snatching second place from Nieto just a few corners into the race. The Japanese star was on a mission to carry on his excellent run of form, having taken a double win at the previous round. He passed Troy Bayliss into the hairpin on the second lap to take the lead. With Haga now starting to stretch out a bit of a gap to Bayliss, his Santander Yamaha team-mate Troy Corser was storming through the field. The Aussie had started 12th after lowsiding out of his Superpole lap when he was on course for a front row start, and was already fighting for sixth place.

Haga's lead was shrinking slightly as Bayliss closed in on him, with Fonsi Nieto hanging onto the Aussie's coat tails. A little way behind, Carlos Checa was in fourth, holding off Max Neukirchner on the second Alstare Suzuki and Michel Fabrizio on the second Xerox Ducati. There was another burst of activity on the fourth lap. Carlos Checa went into the hairpin completely crossed up, but managed to make the turn and soon overtook his fellow Spaniard Fonsi Nieto for third place. Fabrizio passed Neukirchner then Nieto and Checa to slot into third place behind his team-mate, the young Italian Ducati rider seemingly having one of his randomly selected good races.

Spurred on by the fact that it is contract time and he has no contract, Fonsi Nieto was showing the kind of form that has eluded him for months. He passed Carlos Checa using the rocketship straight line performance of the Suzuki to re-take fourth place, then Fabrizio for third, and finally started battling with Troy Bayliss for second position. Nieto outbraked the Aussie at the hairpin, but the wily Ducatista cut back inside to hold his place. Nieto managed to make a move stick, and Bayliss settled for a podium position, unwilling to be taken out by a rider in "contract or straw bales" mode. To compound Carlos Checa's misery at being passed by his lesser-rated countryman, he was pushed back to sixth place by Max Biaggi. Although Roby Rolfo had qualified well (having no contract for next year either) he was racing poorly, and was forced to retire when his Honda started spewing smoke. Four laps before the end of the race, Michel Fabrizio departed in spectacular style from fourth position, sliding off in a shower of sparks in turn two.

Noriyuki Haga won the race comfortably, joined on the podium by Fonsi Nieto and Troy Bayliss. Third position was enough for Bayliss to win the World Superbike title for the third time, on a third type of Ducati.

Read the rest of my World Superbikes Magny Cours race review at Motorbikesport.

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