WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

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Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

The Italian motorcycles clearly were dialed-in for Imola this weekend, with the Ducati’s showing strong results, as well as the RSV4’s of Biaggi and Simoncelli. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see that Race 1 at Imola was dominated by the close racing between the Italian machines, with American Ben Spies trailing and Johnny Rea a brief factor.

With Biaggi leading the majority of the first race at Imola, Sunday looked to be a good outing for the Aprilia squad. This mood was only affected by Marco Simoncelli’s early departure from the race, as he crashed while in 5th place (after moving up the second wave of riders with skill and ease). Simoncelli more than made-up for his Race 1 performance in Race 2 thought (more on that later). In fact, it looked like Biaggi might take it all the way to the podium before Haga passed him with three laps to go.

Once Haga had gotten around Max, he was never to be seen again, and Biaggi had to contend with an equally fast Michel Fabrizio, who at times was also showing Biaggi a wheel. Holding Fabrizio off through the rest of the course, Biaggi found himself on the second step of the podium. The Texan Ben Spies was less of a factor during the race, content to finish 4th for the race, and unable to match the speeds of the Italian beasts. With that result, Spies’ lead over Haga is reduced to just 6 points.

Johnny Rea also contended with the leaders, until a hot entry on lap three saw Rea cut-through the lead pack. Barely missing the pair of Xerox Ducatis as he over-shot the turn, Rea ended-up dumping the bike in the gravel, as he lightly hit the air wall. He would rejoin the race and finish 7th. Thankfully this move had no impact on the WSBK Championship standings.

Results from Race 1 of World Superbike at Imola, Italy:

Pos. Num. Rider Country Bike Diff
1 41 N. Haga JPN Ducati 1098R
2 3 M. Biaggi ITA Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.074
3 84 M. Fabrizio ITA Ducati 1098R 2.190
4 19 B. Spies USA Yamaha YZF R1 5.438
5 9 R. Kiyonari JPN Honda CBR1000RR 14.470
6 91 L. Haslam GBR Honda CBR1000RR 14.685
7 65 J. Rea GBR Honda CBR1000RR 26.822
8 96 J. Smrz CZE Ducati 1098R 32.694
9 66 T. Sykes GBR Yamaha YZF R1 33.817
10 23 B. Parkes AUS Kawasaki ZX 10R 34.801
11 11 T. Corser AUS BMW S1000 RR 35.286
12 111 R. Xaus ESP BMW S1000 RR 36.442
13 31 K. Muggeridge AUS Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 38.698
14 15 M. Baiocco ITA Ducati 1098R 42.147
15 71 Y. Kagayama JPN Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 46.510
16 99 L. Scassa ITA Kawasaki ZX 10R 46.628
17 94 D. Checa ESP Yamaha YZF R1 1’16.121
18 25 D. Salom ESP Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’16.398
RET 77 V. Iannuzzo ITA Honda CBR1000RR 8 Laps
RET 58 M. Simoncelli ITA Aprilia RSV4 Factory 12 Laps
RET 67 S. Byrne GBR Ducati 1098R 13 Laps
RET 7 C. Checa ESP Honda CBR1000RR 14 Laps
RET 10 F. Nieto ESP Ducati 1098R 14 Laps
RET 100 M. Tamada JPN Kawasaki ZX 10R 16 Laps
RET 124 L. Conforti ITA Ducati 1098R 16 Laps
RET 14 M. Lagrive FRA Honda CBR1000RR 18 Laps
RET 57 L. Lanzi ITA Ducati 1098R 19 Laps