Monday, June 28

BIAGGI: WIN NO. 7

By MICHAEL ESDAILE
MASSIMILIANO Biaggi took full advantage of a very small mistake from two-time Superbike World Champion Troy Corser to snatch the lead, and eventually the race win, in the first race at round eight of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship at Misano on Sunday.

Corser had been at or near the top of the lap time sheets in almost every practice and qualifying session and gave BMW its first pole position when he topped the Saturday afternoon Superpole session with a lap of 1m 35.001s at an average of 160.141 km/h. That broke Czech Ducati rider Jakub Smrz’s 1:35.435 pole record set only a year before. Not only that, but Corser was a clear half second quicker than Biaggi’s best lap on the Alitalia Aprilia RSV4.

Interestingly, it was Corser’s first pole position under the new three-step Superpole scenario introduced for the 2009 season, and his 43rd in Superbike racing, the most set by any rider in the series’ 22 year history.

From the start, Biaggi grabbed the holeshot but Corser nipped underneath the Aprilia in the second corner, took the lead and kept the BMW out front for 17 of the 24 laps. Corser later admitted he made a couple of mistakes that lap, which allowed Biaggi to snatch the lead, with Spaniard Carlos Checa also getting past the BMW man on his Althea Ducati 1198R.

The three veteran riders were never more than a few bike lengths apart the entire race, which was run in bright sunshine and 27 degrees of Italian summer heat.

While Checa probed for a way past Biaggi, Corser closed up on the BMW looking for a way back to the front, but the V4 Aprilia accelerated too fast out of the corners onto the short Misano straights for them to be able to get past there, and Biaggi was matching them on the brakes as he snatched his seventh win from the 15 SWC races run so far this year. Behind the three veterans, who handed out a riding lesson to the younger men in the field, Michel Fabrizio was a distant fourth on the first of the factory Xerox Ducatis, almost five seconds back from Biaggi, while Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli had his best race since the opening round at Phillip Island, and bagged fifth on the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000.

That left former championship leader Leon Haslam to rue his poor getaway, which saw him stuck back in the pack until he got past Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea, then latched onto the tail of factory Ducati man Noriyuki Haga.
Eventually Haslam found a way past Haga, and pulled away slightly. At that point he was a distant sixth, but was pushed back to seventh again when Leon Camier came by on the second factory Aprilia V4. Before the race was over, Haga had also got back in front of the Englishman, who finished eighth, and saw Biaggi put a hefty 17 more points on him, extending his lead in the championship to 282.
Haslam with 250 points was still well clear of third placed points man Carlos Checa, whose second place finish saw him move back in front of Jonathan Rea, with 161 points in the title chase.

Checa also set fastest lap in the race, 1m 36.670s, which broke Haga’s year-old lap record of 1m 37.135s.