Max Biaggi started the first World Superbike race of the Brno round on pole after no one could touch him in the final Superpole session on Saturday. He was joined by Marco Melandri, Carlos Checa, and Eugene Laverty on the front row. Though Biaggi led at the end, Jakub Smrz, Checa, and Laverty all took a turn at leading a session in the Czech Republic. Much further back, neither Castrol Honda rider managed to move on to the Superpole sessions and will start on the fifth and sixth rows. Checa led the morning warm-up on Sunday, with Smrz, Sylvain Guintoli, Biaggi, and Michel Fabrizio the fastest five.
Though James Toseland did ride for Friday morning’s free practice, he was forced to sit out the rest of the race weekend, hoping to heal for the next round at Silverstone. He was replaced by Lorenzo Lanzi at BMW Motorrad Italia. Also sitting out the weekend is injured factory BMW rider Tory Corser and Jonathan Rea at Castrol Honda. Though Corser has not been replaced at this round, Rea’s recovery might be long-term, leading to his replacement by Alex Lowes.
Race 1 got underway under sunny and clear skies in Brno despite a previous forecast of rain, with Biaggi getting a lovely start, Laverty taking second from Melandri. The two Yamaha riders looked to swap positions, but Laverty kept second while Biaggi attempted to start a gap early on. Coming out of Turn 12, Xaus had a scary highside near the end of the field, lying in pain on the tarmac. At the end of the first lap, Biaggi led Laverty by three tenths, with Melandri, Checa, Sykes, Fabrizio, Smrz, Haslam, Haga, and Guintoli. The marshals had Xaus and his bike cleared by the time Biaggi had made his way back past the incident, and Melandri took second from Laverty on the second lap.
Next, Checa took third from Laverty with a neat pass, with Fabrizio pushing the Yamaha rider. Biaggi and Melandri had gotten away somewhat at the front, leaving more than a second for Checa to make up, with Fabrizio following. By the end of L5, Melandri was just under two tenths behind Biaggi, with Checa two seconds off the lead. Camier and Badovini had made their way around Haga to join the top ten and the Japanese rider began drifting further back.
Melandri continued to push Biaggi for the lead, though he did not attempt a pass. With thirteen laps, Melandri made his move and took the lead, sliding under Biaggi. Though the pole sitter attempted to fight back, there was no way immediately around for Biaggi. Behind, Checa had begun to gain a bit of time but was still a second behind the two two riders. After a couple of laps, Checa had visibly joined the two Italians.
At the halfway point of the twenty lap race, Melandri had just two tenths on Biaggi, with Checa another four tenths behind. Fabrizio was riding a solid race in fourth with Laverty completing the top five. Sykes led Smrz, Badovini, Camier, and Lascorz as the second half of the top ten. Meanwhile, word came from Castrol Honda that “Ruben in medical centre. Initial reports nothing serious, but full check underway,” adding later, “Seems nothing broken on Ruben – unlike the bike – but he’s pretty beaten up.”
Biaggi made a mistake looking for a way through on Melandri, sliding a bit wide to allow Checa through for second position. There was little space between the top three as Biaggi used the Aprilia top speed to take the position back from Checa at the end of the front straight. Biaggi made his move for the lead into and through Turn 3, only to lose the lead back to Melandri in Turn 4. Biaggi went for the lead again on the next turn, only he couldn’t maintain the position the entire way through the corner. Behind, Checa was in perfect position to take advantage of any mistake from the two Italians.
With five laps remaining, Melandri was in the lead, with Checa still right there. Fabrizio was over two seconds behind the leader as Laverty, Badovini, Sykes, Lascorz, Smrz, and Camier the top ten. It was a hot fight for seventh through eleventh, with five riders swapping positions through most of the turns. Biaggi and Melandri continued to push one another the lead, with the former holding onto the lead for the moment.
Melandri flicked underneath Biaggi to take the lead back with just over two laps left, despite the rear tires of the Yamaha looking pretty ragged. Though Biaggi ran a bit wide, Checa was unable to capitalize and take second from him. On the final lap, Melandri led a pushing Biaggi and Checa. Melandri looked to have just barely enough gap to hold off the Aprilia, and did keep the lead as Biaggi ran a tiny bit wide in a final turn, though he kept second with Checa completing the podium.
World Superbike Race Results from Race 1 at Brno, Czech Republic:
|1||33||Marco Melandri||Yamaha WSBK Team||-|
|2||1||Max Biaggi||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||0.241|
|3||7||Carlos Checa||Althea Racing Ducati||0.436|
|4||84||Michel Fabrizio||Team Suzuki Alstare||8.448|
|5||58||Eugene Laverty||Yamaha WSBK Team||11.863|
|6||86||Ayrton Badovini||BMW Motorrad Italia||16.374|
|7||2||Leon Camier||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||20.075|
|8||91||Leon Haslam||BMW Motorrad||21.399|
|9||17||Joan Lascorz||Paul Bird Racing Kawasaki||21.555|
|10||66||Tom Sykes||Paul Bird Racing Kawasaki||22.330|
|11||96||Jakub Smrz||Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati||22.494|
|12||41||Noriyuki Haga||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||24.710|
|13||121||Maxime Berger||Supersonic Racing Ducati||27.958|
|14||44||Roberto Rolfo||Team Pedericini Kawasaki||31.724|
|15||22||Alex Lowes||Castrol Honda||31.998|
|16||8||Mark Aitchison||Team Pedericini Kawasaki||34.771|
|17||57||Lorenzo Lanzi||BMW Motorrad Italia||36.582|
|18||77||Chris Vermeulen||Paul Bird Racing Kawasaki||45.690|
|19||13||Victor Kispataki||Prop-tech ltd. Honda||1:28.907|
|20||50||Sylvain Guintoli||Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati||1 Lap|
|21||15||Matteo Baioccoo||Barni Racing Team Ducati||8 Laps|
|111||Ruben Xaus||Castrol Honda||crash|
Source: WSBK; Photo: Max Biaggi Official Website