WSBK: Sunshine Blesses Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park

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After a rainy Saturday Superpole, the sun blessed the Miller Motorsports Park for World Superbike’s Race 1. Carlos Checa returned to the Utah track in dominant form, though problems early on in the weekend gave glimpses of last year’s mechanical snafus. With both the factory Yamahas and Liberty Ducatis looking very quick in Superpole and in the practice sessions, Checa’s dominance for this year remained to be seen, with the pre-race predictions being anyone’s guess. Having standing water still in Turn 5 or the “Black Rock Hairpin” as it is called here at Miller, and mud at virtually every run-off, the Outer Course had a few tricks still up its sleeve for this race day Monday, despite the improved weather conditions. Click past the jump for spoilers on how it all panned out.

As the green flag dropped, the Aprilia RSV4 Factory of Max Biaggi proved it had the power, as The Emperor took the holeshot going into the first turn. His lead would not last long though, as BMW’s Troy Corser was around the Italian almost immediately, and following in-tow was the PATA Aprilia of Noriyuki Haga, who had a great start from the third row.

The first few laps would prove to be eventful for virtually all the riders, as not only was there the typical shuffle in positions, but multiple big crashes ensued. The first mud children were Max Biaggi and Jonathan Rea, as the Alitalia Aprilia got ensnared with the Castrol Honda, as Rea took Biaggi out of commission. With both riders unscathed from the crash, Rea gave Biaggi an earful before the two racers went back to their pits to get ready for Race 2.

The second big incident happened in the fourth lap, as Ruben Xaus slid underneath Michel Fabrizio as the pair battled for the 12th position. Hit hard, Fabrizio was down in the mud snf on his back for more than a moment, which caused Xaus to come running over to the Italian rider, landing on his knees. Fabrizio would later get up and walk away from the crash, but will be feeling it tomorrow to be certain.

As the first five laps unfolded, it was a Corser & Haga show up front, as the two veterans battled for position, and opened a gap over the trailing Guintoli. With the lead group consisting of Corser, Haga, Guintoli, Checa, and Camier, Leon Camier began losing touch with the pack by the third lap, and was relegated to a distant fifth, though made the ground up to be third by the ninth lap (Camier would go on to have another moment, pushed farther back to seventh, finishing fourth).

With Checa biding his time, the Spaniard slowly moved through the ranks of riders, coming from fourth to first by the sixth lap. Once clear, the Althea Ducati rider never looked back and performed his patent-pending Checa Checkout maneuver.

The rest of the race focused on the battle for second, which saw two more Ducatis vying for podium position. Coming from third, Jakob Smrz battled with Sylvain Guintoli from the Effenbet-Liberty Racing squad for several laps, before the Czech rider finally got past his French teammate on Lap 18. Smrz would hold the position to the finish, beating his teammate by just over a second at the checkered flag. Though disappointing for Guintoli in some respects, the result made a 1-2-3 podium for Ducati, showing that the Italian bikes are appreciative of Miller’s 3-mile road course layout.

Leon Camier will perhaps not be happy about his fourth place finish, but the Aprilia rider has shown to be very fast here in Utah, and could be a podium contender in Race 2. Another strong showing was Eugene Laverty who finished Race 1 in the fifth position.

World Superbike Race Results from Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park, USA:

Pos. No. Rider Team Diff.
1 7 Carlos Checa Althea Ducati
2 96 Jakub Smrz Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 2.766
3 50 Sylvain Guintoli Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 4.093
4 2 Leon Camier Aprilia Alitalia Racing 8.885
5 58 Eugene Laverty Yamaha World Superbike Team 15.718
6 66 Tom Sykes Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 20.477
7 86 Ayrton Badovini BMW Motorrad Italia 22.170
8 91 Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad 22.267
9 41 Noriyuki Haga PATA Racing Team Aprilia 24.087
10 33 Marco Melandri Yamaha World Superbike Team 27.150
11 121 Maxime Berger Supersonic Racing Ducati 29.422
12 12 Josh Waters Yoshimura Suzuki 33.428
13 11 Troy Corser BMW Motorrad 36.573
14 17 Joan Lascorz Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 1’05.369
15 52 James Toseland BMW Motorrad Italia 1’14.382
16 8 Mark Aitchison Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1’14.736
17 44 Roberto Rolfo Team Pedercini Kawasaki 2 Laps
Not Classified
RET 84 Michel Fabrizio Team Suzuki Alstare 18 Laps
RET 111 Ruben Xaus Castrol Honda 18 Laps
RET 4 Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda
RET 1 Max Biaggi Aprilia Alitalia Racing

Source: WorldSBK; Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved