Sunday, February 26

CARLOS DOES THE BUSINESS

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

If the first race in the 2012 Superbike World Championship was a processional affair, the second race of the day more than made up for it – with drama aplenty.

By the end of the day, four of the six manufacturers contesting the title tasted podium placings.

Pole sitter Tom Sykes holeshot the race – again – and led for two laps before being passed by both Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and Johnny Rea (Honda).

But first race winner Max Biaggi turned on the race of the day to lead the world title chase with 45 points over BMW’s Marco Melandri (30), Tom Sykes on 29 and Checa with 25.

Entering Doohan Corner on the first lap contesting the lead with Sykes, Biaggi ran off up the hill onto the grass inside the Southern Loop. He retained control of the Aprilia and got back onto the track behind the pack. Well and truly fired up, Biaggi then showed just how good the Aprilia RSV4 is, and what an accomplished rider he is by starting a run that eventually took him through to second place.

Few would have predicted that when they saw the Alitalia Aprilia streaking across the grass, dropping out of a sure front-running position in the first corner.

But in five laps Biaggi was up to 14th and into the world championship points. Riding with surgical precision and controlled aggression, Biaggi set about working his way toward the front, passing lesser riders almost as soon as he came upon them.

Meantime, Leon Haslam, riding with an injured right leg, ended up engaged in an almost race long duel with his BMW team-mate Marco Melandri.

Out front, Carlos Checa steadily stretched away from Johnny Rea’s Honda CBR1000RR while Sykes settled into a comfortable third, just ahead of Kawasaki team-mate Joan Lascorz. But Lascorz crashed on the 11th lap leaving Haslam in fourth ahead of Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and Melandri.

At that point Biaggi was just about to dispatch Davide Giugliano (Althea Ducati), Laverty and Maxime Berger (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati) in three swift thrust and parries to grab fifth.

At that staged the self-styled ‘Corsair’ was 12 seconds down on the race leader and about to demonstrate to BMW that the S1000RR is no match for the acceleration and speed of the lithe little Aprilia. Max simply lined up Melandri and blew him away. No contest. A few laps later he tried the same on Sykes’ Kawasaki but found the green machine had a pretty decent turn of speed too. With the Aprilia shaking its head entering Doohan Corner, Sykes forged back into third but Max wasn’t done, not by a long shot. He parried and thrust and eventually, after a torrid couple of laps, be was past and off after second-placed Rea.

The Honda’s rear Pirelli was smoking a little as it spun up on corner exit, and that was all the signal Biaggi needed. Unlike Sykes, Rea could put up no resistance and Max was through and away.

Out front Checa was well in command to take an untroubled win, Biaggi was second but Sykes decided he wanted to get a podium for Kawasaki, so reeled Rea in over the final two laps and with superior traction, and thus better acceleration, he nailed the Honda on the line.

Meantime Haslam had regained the upper hand over Melandri to bring his BMW home fifth, a whisker ahead of his team-mate who had Berger right on his tail.

After starting well, Laverty drifted back to finish eighth, just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) with Nicolo Canepa rounding out the top ten on the Red Devils Roma Ducati 1098R.

Full results:
http://sbk.perugiatiming.com/pdf_frame.asp?p_Round=AUS&p_Anno=2012&p_Manifestazione=01&p_Gara=01&p_Sessione=002&p_Stampa=CLA