Sunday dawned a damp Phillip Island for the opening round of World Superbike racing, after a clear week of testing and practices which were all dominated by Carlos Checa. The Spaniard won pole on Saturday, though reigning champion Max Biaggi’s improvement through the weekend brought his qualifying time to within .013s of Checa’s. Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam were next to the veterans on the front row.
Both were also fast in the damp morning warm-up, though Australian Troy Corser was fastest in the changed conditions, with Checa was tenth fastest. It was dry and sunny by race time rolled around for Race 1, though the sky had turned grey for Sunday’s second race. To see how the riders adapted to the changed weather for Race 2, continue reading after the jump.
Neither Chris Vermeulen nor Sylvain Guintoli started Race 2, as both were sidelined by injuries. Vermeulen missed the entire weekend, as well as testing earlier in the week, as the knee he injured in Race 2 at Phillip Island in 2010 continues to recover, while Guintoli was injured in a Race 1 crash.
Haslam got a great start, leading into the first turn, and giving Checa a fight before the Spaniard disposed of him for good on his way to winning a double at Phillip Island. Biaggi got off the line slowly, dropping down to fifth on the first lap and seventh on the second. Though he finished second, the Champion had to fight off former rival and experienced rookie Marco Melandri to do so. Melandri finished third, with Rea and Haslam completing the top five.
Early in the race, Haslam held up teammate Corser, Biaggi, Melandri and others while in second place. Melandri won the four-wide scrum at Doohan to win second, and get around Haslam on lap six, though by that time Checa was over three seconds ahead. There, Biaggi and Melandri would begin their fight, continuing through the race. Corser looked to be part of their battle, but ran down the escape road at the Honda corner and dropped back to eleventh. Laverty had a similar issue just after passing Haslam for fourth, subsequently dropping to eighteenth.
At the halfway point, Checa led Biaggi, Melandri, Haga, and Haslam as the top five, and the fight between Biaggi and Melandri was just beginning to heat up. They were back and forth, with Melandri diving under and going around the outside of Biaggi, while the more powerful Aprilia continued to pass the Yamaha on the straights. In the end Checa won, and Biaggi managed to keep the small gap he gained in the final couple of laps and the charging Melandri behind.
World Superbike Race Results from Race 2 at Phillip Island:
|1||7||Carlso Checa||Althea Racing||–|
|2||1||Max Biaggi||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1.188|
|3||33||Marco Melandri||Yamaha WSBK Team||1.406|
|4||4||Jonathan Rea||Castrol Honda||10.563|
|5||91||Leon Haslam||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||10.885|
|6||2||Leon Camier||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||16.914|
|7||41||Noriyuki Haga||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||17.558|
|8||84||Michel Fabrizio||Team Suzuki Alstare||17.679|
|9||66||Tom Sykes||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||18.07|
|10||111||Ruben Xaus||Castrol Honda||19.053|
|11||96||Jakub Smrz||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing (Ducati)||19.06|
|12||44||Roberto Rolfo||Team Pedercini Kawasaki||23.771|
|13||12||Josh Waters||Yoshimura Suzuki||23.956|
|14||52||James Toseland||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK||28.713|
|15||58||Eugene Laverty||Yamaha WSBK Team||32.673|
|16||8||Mark Aitchison||Team Pedercini Kawasaki||33.226|
|17||67||Bryan Staring||Team Pedercini Kawasaki||42.598|
|18||121||Maxime Berger||Supersonic Racing Team (Ducati)||51.819|
|19||11||Troy Corser||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||55.738|
|13||Joan Lascorz||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||8 Laps|
|20||Ayrton Badovini||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK|
Source: WorldSBK; Photo: Yamaha-Racing