Even before I met Max Biaggi in 2011, I had the sense that here was someone who takes himself and his racing pretty seriously. From the immaculately trimmed facial hair, to his manner in the pit box, to his long career as a motorcycle racer, if there is anything he takes lightly, it is certainly not racing.
Some riders are approachable, quick to smile, who naturally put others at ease even on race weekends. Biaggi is not among this group. But I didn’t appreciate just how intense he is when he’s at work until, as one of my contributions to benefit Riders for Health, I decided to ask him to sign a print I was donating at last year’s Miller WSBK round.
I had brought a matted print of Biaggi from 2010 with me, and as I approached the track on Saturday morning I considered that it would likely fetch a higher price, and thus a greater donation to Riders for Health, if it bore Max’s signature. So I set about getting that done with no idea how easy or difficult it might be.
First I approached the Aprilia media officer, a pleasant fellow who worked with me, half in Italian and half in English, to come up with a plan to approach his star rider. He suggested we talk to someone in the pit box, someone who knew Max better than he did in his recently acquired role with the team.
We descended into the Aprilia garage and found someone whose exact role I never understood, but who also liked the idea of doing something for Riders for Health. He did not, however, care to be the one to bring it directly to Max. The three of us considered the situation and appealed to one of the senior mechanics, who gave us a sympathetic look and said in gestures instead of words that he wanted no part of the business.
We stood to the side of the box, waiting for inspiration, and I wondered if the plan were doomed. Max spoke to mechanics as if discussing matters of life and death. Team members approached him respectfully, presented their concerns for his comment, and left him alone. In some garages the guys joke and there is music in the business of racing motorbikes. In Max’s garage, it’s more like a war room, its business deadly serious.
Congratulations to Carlos Checa, who is finally a World Champion, having clinched the World Superbike title at Magny Cours with three races to go. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Jonathan Rea underwent surgery today to repair a broken right radius, and will miss this weekend’s World Superbike round at Motorland Aragon. The Castrol Honda rider suffered the injury, along with a now-ubiquitous broken collarbone and some injuries to his right foot during a warm-up crash at last weekend’s Misano round. Rea will not be replaced this weekend, leaving only teammate Ruben Xaus to ride for the team at Aragon.
Rea fractured his right radius and left clavicle in the crash at Misano’s Turn 11 on Sunday. That day he explained, “I had a crash yesterday which needed some stitches in my arm and then a 230kph crash this morning at one of the fastest corners on the calendar.” Rea continued, “Of course, I’m frustrated and I have some injuries that I want to take time to heal properly. We’ll have to miss Aragon next week, unfortunately, but Brno is a month off and the doctors tell me that the break in my arm would normally keep someone off work for three weeks.”
Many expected Max Biaggi to retire at the end of the 2010 World Superbike season, but the 39-year-old still has some fight in him yet, as he’s signed-on with Aprilia Racing for another two years according to reports out of the Italian press. Expected to be announced tomorrow in a festival at Noale (home of Aprilia), Biaggi is the first Italian to win the World Superbike Championship, and this year also the first time an Aprilia has ever won the World Superbike Championship. You can expect the party in Noale to be appropriately rowdy.
Without giving too much away about this weekend’s WSBK race, Max Biaggi clinched the World Superbike Championship at Imola this weekend. For fans in Italy, this moment is being celebrated heavily, as an Italian rider, on an Italian bike, during an Italian race, has clinched a major championship title. For Biaggi fans, this title has been a long-time in the making, as The Emperor hasn’t won a championship title since his 250GP days.
UPDATE 3: Michel Fabrizio has signed-on with Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.
UPDATE 2: Leon Haslam has signed with the BMW Factory Squad.
UPDATE: It’s being reported that Noriyuki Haga has agreed to ride with the DFX team on a factory Aprilia RSV4, with an announcement delayed out of deference to Biaggi’s impending WSBK crowning.
While the MotoGP silly season is just starting to wind down, the World Superbike shuffling of riders is apparently just getting underway. So far this silly season we’ve seen , confirming that he’d be with Ten Kate Honda next season, despite being only two years into a three year contract, which was a strange announcement at the very least.
After Ducati’s little spat with Infront Motor Sports last month, the Xerox Ducati Team will be no more in 2011, leaving factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki S.O.L. when it comes to gainful employment, which is where our fist batch of silly season rumors starts us. If Moto.it‘s Carlo Baldi is to be believed (he is the listed press officer for Althea Ducati after all), Haga will find himself on a satellite Aprilia ride, while Michel Fabrizio will go to Alstare Suzuki. If you’re a die-hard WSBK fan you may realize that means that current Alstare Suzuki star Leon Haslam must be finding work elsewhere, with Baldi putting the British rider in the factory BMW squad. Still with us?
After a nasty crash during Race 2 of World Superbike’s stop at Phillip Island, Christopher Vermeulen will not have to undergo surgery on his knee, meaning the Australian rider could compete in the upcoming Portimao race that is on March 28th. Vermeulen reportedly doesn’t have full movement of his leg, but the he still hopes to be on his PBM Kawasaki at the Portugese track, gobbling up points in what he hopes could be a run for the WSBK Championship. See Chris talk about his condition after the jump.
Phillip Island served up another nail-biter for WSBK fans this Sunday. With the race winner making a last lap pass, no one could have guessed the top four finishers in this race. With a few familiar faces, along with a few new hopefuls, wrapping up the first stop on the World Superbike Championship only wets the appetite further for the rest of the WSBK season. Rider quotes, video highlights, and race standings after the jump.
The wait is over, World Superbike racing action is back as Race 1 was underway at Phillip Island today. Perhaps a glimpse into the racing year, the action from down under did not disappoint race fans, and sets up WSBK to have a excitingly close season. Click past the jump for all the racing news of Race 1 at Phillip Island, including rider quotes, video highlights, and race standings.
The World Superbike Championship has returned to us, helping fill the winter snow & rain blues. Coming to us this weekend from Phillip Island, Australia, WSBK shows some new faces in the Superpole mix now that Ben Spies has left World Superbike for greener pastures. With the weather holding out, Superpole at PI had some surprising results, and some not so surprising results. Click past the break to get the low down.
Erik Buell Racing has just updated its website, and releasd the first real clear shot of what the EBR 1190RR will look like it in its racing form. With 185hp being made at the rear-wheel (according to the optimistic DynoJet dynamometer), the EBR 1190RR sits at the top of the Buell totem poll. Erik Buell Racing has spec’d the machine to be legal in both the AMA and WSBK, but the 1190RR is not homologated for neither the AMA American Superbike class (yet?), nor for WSBK (even bigger question mark).
Based off the 1125R chassis, the 1190RR is virtually anorexic, dropping 30lbs off the AMA Daytona Superbike racing machine, while still bumping up displacement by 65cc’s. With 93lb•ft of torque on hand at 9,500 RPM, the EBR 1190RR is sure to sling your eye balls into the back of your head…if you can find a racing series to race it in. Full technical specifications after the jump.