Sunday, February 28, 2010

WSBK: Phillip Island, Young and Old

The victories at the season opening meeting of the World Superbike championship in Australia were shared between Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa.

Haslam the Younger was the quickest rider all weekend. After taking his debut superpole, he took his debut race win in race one on his Alstare Suzuki. Xerox Ducati's erratic young nutter Michel Fabrizio trundled over the line after a wait of four thousandths of a second, with team-mate Nitro Nori Haga 3rd.

In race two, it was Catalan codger Carlos Checa who took the victory on his privateer Althea Ducati, snatching the lead into MG corner on the last lap and forcing Haslam to settle for 2nd place with Fabrizio 3rd.

This looks like being an outstanding year for WSBK. The sheer depth of talent is arguably the best in the history of World Supers, with National and World champions stretching halfway down the field. The Ducatis are as quick as always (presumably having surreptitiously screwed a few more horsepower out of their overbored homologation specials, as always.) The Suzukis are also hella quick. Both Haslam and Guintoli led the second race, and look like making a great team. In fact, all of the factory and semi-factory teams (7 in all) have damn good riders who showed well in flashes at least.

It wasn't that surprising to see the Kawasakis being fairly slow after good starts, or the BMW of Ruben Xaus being AWOL after the nutty Spaniard had crashed at every opportunity in practise and failed to make the grid. However, the biggest disappointment was the Yamaha Italia squad. Both Crutchlow and Toseland flung their bikes at the scenery in race one, while they were fairly mediocre in race two, bearing in mind how Benny Elbowz ruled the championship for Yamaha last year.

Next time out it's the magnificent Portimao circuit in Portugal. With the field this closely packed, the rollercoaster hills and turns of that track should bring great racing.

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