Monday, September 6


By Michael Esdaile

HANNSPREE Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Xerox Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga shared the wins at round 11 of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship at Germany’s Nurbrurgring on Sunday in a crash riddled weekend of racing.

There were numerous crashes in practice and qualifying, with Alitalia’s Leon Camier sidelined in the first free practice session after a crash that saw him slide down and suffer trauma to his knee and – worst of all – a fractured scaphoid, the wrist bone.

Then in qualifying, Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad), one of the main protagonists throughout the weekend, had a luckless Superpole, high-siding and landing hard, his third crash in around an hour of track action. He was out of Superpole from that point, finally qualifying 14th.

Even championship points leader Max Biaggi was not immune, the Italian crashing his Aprilia hard in the second qualifying session, suffering bruising. Still, that did not stop the ‘Roman Emperor’ snatching pole position, just his second career Superbike pole.

The crashes continued: shortly after the start of the first race, Leon Haslam high-siding from his Alstare Suzuki, leaving Corser no where to go. The Australian thus suffered his fourth off of the weekend. Both riders walked away and made the re-start, although Haslam was in considerable pain with a dislocated right thumb.

Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) took an early lead in the re-started first race, and rode at pace no one could match.

Not long after the re-start, Corser was again in bother, colliding with Alstare Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli mid-corner. Both riders went off the track, through the gravel and re-joined, Guintoli going on to score an eighth place finish while Corser eventually pitted and retired.

Shortly after, former double Superbike World Champion James Toseland crashed out, followed by Xerox Ducati’s Michel Fabrizio a few laps later, then Hannspreee Ten Kate Honda’s number two man Max Neukirchner.

Out front, Rea was well clear, leaving Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) and Haga batting for second, before Haga sailed off the track after losing front-end traction.

That left Silverstone double winner Cal Crutchlow (Sterligarda Yamaha) in a distant third, 10 seconds back with Biaggi right behind in fourth in what had became a fairly processional race.

Tom Sykes gave Kawasaki some cheer, bringing his ZX10R home in fifth for his best result of the season. Two seconds back was Haslam.
"A great race and a great weekend for the team,” said Rea right after taking the chequered flag. “Already on Friday we were right on the pace, we came out with a bike that was good, really pushed hard, I felt comfortable on it and turned it into a good result so I'm really proud of my team."

Checa was disappointed not to have been able to match Rea’s pace.

“We had a good start and fought with Haga who then fell in front of me. Then I tried to follow Jonathan (Rea) but he was very strong and nothing happened to the end. We did our best and are quite satisfied with the pace and the work we did this weekend."

Biaggi and Rea got away well at the start of the first race but it was the Ducati’s of Haga and Checa that exited the first turn in the lead. The two of them got away from Rea and engaged in a battle for the lead that was decided when Checa crashed. That left Haga out on his own in the lead and the Japanese never put a foot wrong, crossing the line just over three seconds ahead of Rea.

Haslam rode through the pain barrier to grab third, holding off a determined Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) who had Biaggi hounding him. In the second half of the race, Guintoli closed on Biaggi but try as he might, he was not able to get past the Aprilia man.

At the flag, Haslam, Crutchlow, Biaggi and Guintoli crossed the line less than a second separating the four.

"I'm very happy with this result and very sorry for the first race,” Haga said. “When I had a crash, I wasn't getting information from the front tyre and for race two I made just a little modification for the front suspension and that was working much better. I was able to keep a high pace until the flag. Next round is Imola, our home track and I have much pressure but I hope to do my best."

Rea said that although the pace was similar to the first race, “Nori was fantastic, he rode an unbelievable race. It's quite frustrating when you see someone ride away from you like that. A great job for my team this weekend, 45 points overall and I'm really very happy. I'm very consistent now but it's so frustrating when I see my mid-season form."
For his part, the wounded Haslam admitted the first race was a bit frustrating.

“It was completely my fault when I high-sided and Troy (Corser) had nowhere to go, butluckily the race was red-flagged. In the second race, I only had one bike but the boys did a great job and the Clinica did a fantastic job with my knee and my thumb so thanks to them. Getting on the podium is not exactly what I wanted but we'll take it this weekend. Anything can happen, there are four more races still to go so roll on Imola!"

Full results: