The first stop of the World Superbike tour occurred this past Sunday, and the results are in. This season marks the return of Aprilia to WSBK racing, and welcomed newcomer BMW to the paddock as well. With seven manufacturers on the grid, racing was expected to be heated, close, and exciting, and Phillip Island delivered. Click ahead for spoilers and a full breakdown of Race 1 at Phillip Island.
Making a jump off the line in the 13th position, Nori Haga won Race 1 by 32/1000ths of a second in a last-lap battle to the finish line. Following him was Max Neukirchner, who started just behind Haga in 14th.
Our very own Ben Spies, who won the Superpole, showed his rookie status in WSBK. Spies was muscled off the track in the second turn of the race, and had to rejoin the race after falling to last position. He finished 16th overall, and left a lot of spectators wondering what could have been achieved had he stayed on the asphalt.
Team Alstare Suzuki with Max Neukirchner fought their way into second place behind Haga by lap 6, and the pair quickly pulled away from the pack by lap 7. Teammate Yukio Kagayama, starting from 11th, got the better of the scrap for third against Jonny Rea, Regis Laconi, Michel Fabrizio and Leon Haslam.
Haga spent ten laps tailgating Neukirchner by using the Ducati’s superior traction control to stay within an arm’s length of the Suzuki, showing Max his front wheel at nearly every corner and tucking into the slipstream on the straights. He finally put a move on the German, diving into the lead into turn 1 at the start of lap 17, setting up an epic fight for the last few laps.
Neukirchner, who had somewhat of a breakout season last year, gave Haga no room to breathe, sticking right on his tail as the rest of the field fell away, and gave a burst of speed onto the straight at the start of the final lap. Haga took a couple of desperate looks up the inside and outside through Honda hairpin and the Hayshed, but eventually it was a near-highside coming over the Hayshed into the turn 10 hairpin that gave Haga the chance he needed. He ducked up the inside and held the narrowest of leads through to a 0.032 second win.
Australian Troy Corser showed admirable tenacity to work his BMW into 8th place from 17th on the starting grid. He also finished with the fastest race lap, forecasting a competitive season for BMW. Biaggi and his new Aprilia slipped back at the start of the race and finished up 11th.
Race 1 Results from the 2009 Phillip Island World Superbikes Round:
|1||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||34’22.631|
|2||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||0.032|
|3||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||5.347|
|4||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||6.587|
|5||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||8.491|
|6||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||8.523|
|7||55||R. Laconi||FRA||Ducati 1098 RS 09||8.766|
|8||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||11.589|
|9||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||11.721|
|10||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||11.761|
|11||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4||12.609|
|12||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||19.096|
|13||44||R. Rolfo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||24.149|
|14||33||T. Hill||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||27.416|
|15||56||S. Nakano||JPN||Aprilia RSV4||28.173|
|16||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||28.235|
|17||24||B. Roberts||AUS||Ducati 1098R||37.348|
|18||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||37.401|
|19||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||42.614|
|20||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’03.794|
|21||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R|
|RET||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R|
|RET||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R|
|RET||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR|
|RET||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R|
|RET||31||K. Muggeridge||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9|
|RET||9||R. Kiyonari||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR|