Team Suzuki Alstare rider Michel Fabrizio took a superb sixth place in the first race of the opening round of this year's Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island today. But even more encouraging was the fact that Michel was able to battle for a podium place until his tyres started to go off, four laps from the end. The young Italian was hoping to follow up his good performance in race one with more of the same in race two, but suffered tyre chatter from the early stages of the race and had to be content with eighth place in the end. Nevertheless Michel and the team felt happy with their overall performance in the opening round and are looking forward to the next round at Donington Park at the end of March.
Heavy overnight rain had soaked the 4.445 kilometre circuit and the morning warm-up was declared "a wet practice". But by the time the twenty-two riders lined up on the grid for the first race of 2011, the track had dried and everybody was on slick tyres. Carlos Checa (Ducati) won both 22-lap races today, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) taking a pair of runner-up spots. Leon Haslam (BMW) took third place in race one and Marco Melandri (Yamaha) took third in race two.
Michel - Race 1: 6th, Race 2: 8th
I am happy and I am not so happy. I am happy because I was able to fight with the top guys in both races and that is a great boost to my confidence. I am not so happy with the result in race two. I didn't know exactly what to expect in my first race with Team Suzuki Alstare and it was good to be able to battle for the podium in the first race. Maybe if I had made a good start in that race, I might have ended up on the podium. Instead, I found myself eleventh at the end of lap one and then had to fight through the pack and that's not easy because there are so many good riders and good bikes. It took some time, but I was up to seventh at half race distance and then up to fifth after fifteen laps. That's when I was in a three way fight with Laverty, Melandri and Haslam and it was a lot of fun racing with them. Just when I thought I might be able to make a charge, my tyres started to go off and I couldn't push as hard as I wanted. I kept attacking as hard as I could, but couldn't get past any of them, so finished sixth.
I used the same bike for race two and the same type of tyre and only made some small adjustments, but I started getting chattering almost right from the start. It was not an easy race by any means, but I tried to ride as hard as I could without crashing. I kept pushing wherever possible, but it wasn't possible to push hard enough to get another top six result. I am not so happy with eighth, but overall I think we should be pleased with our performance today. We know the season is going to be very hard this year - probably more than previous years - and to begin with good results is a great start.
-source: suzuki alstare