Haga (Ducati) dominates at Valencia to clinch double win
Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) dominated both races in round 3 of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. In front of 65,000 spectators the Japanese rider notched up wins number 35 and 36 in his ten-year long World Superbike career to lead the table with 135 points. Team-mate Michel Fabrizio also had a positive weekend, the young Italian taking second and third while the remaining podium places went to Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Alstare) in race 1 and rookie Texan Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) in the second encounter.
Haga led virtually from lights to flag after moving past early leader Neukirchner at the start of lap 3, the championship leader adding a chunk of points to his advantage over Spies, who then crashed out while fighting with the German. Fabrizio took the second slot to give the factory Ducati team a 1-2 finish. Front-row man Regis Laconi (Ducati DFX) finished just one place away from the podium, while Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing) was the first Honda rider to the flag ahead of Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare). Yamaha's race was saved with the positive form of Tom Sykes in seventh ahead of Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing), who recovered well from a lowly grid position. Broc Parkes finished an encouraging tenth for Kawasaki, with Superbike rookie John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda) one place behind. Riders who crashed out included Troy Corser (BMW), who was running fourth in the early laps, and Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who remounted but retired.
Noriyuki Haga: "Not so bad! Anyway I had a good feeling this weekend, bike and the team have both been working well. At the start it was good but I had already decided I would go into the lead in the early laps. Finally I kept my own race. Of course I want to win both races today but it's not so easy. I now have a very good feeling with this bike, it is so easy to ride, that's why I was able to push, also I did very consistent laps with this tyre."
Michel Fabrizio: "For me Valencia is very difficult but this result is fantastic. I grew a beard to bring me good luck, and it worked so maybe I will keep it now! It's a great result for the team, we have worked very well from Friday after the first disappointing couple of races."
Max Neukirchner: "Even for us it was really hard. We were always in the top 10 this weekend but didn't find perfect set-up. But during the practices we changed some things and in the end we found a very good way and I am so happy to finish on the podium. I was in second place for so long, but even with this result I'm so glad for my team and our new sponsor."
Haga dominated the second race in a similar fashion, this time taking the lead on lap 5. He then pulled out to win by over five seconds, taking a new lap record in 1 minute 34.618 seconds in the process. Spies managed to prevent a second Ducati 1-2 of the day with the runner-up slot but never managed to challenge Haga for the win. Third went to Fabrizio, who again had to hold off Laconi throughout the 23 laps for the final podium slot. Haslam scored another fifth place, again the best Honda rider to the flag, ahead of Checa and Neukirchner, who faded away with tyre problems after starting off well. Biaggi came home in eighth place again, after prevailing in a five-way battle with Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda), Sykes, Shane Byrne (Ducati Sterilgarda) and Hopkins. The final point went to Corser, while Parkes failed to get into the top 15.
Noriyuki Haga: "We did a great job this weekend. I think one of the reasons is that after Qatar I did some 'age training! But anyway today 50 points is a great advantage over Ben and I'm very happy with this double win."
Ben Spies: "I was trying as hard as we could in the first couple of laps, but had a couple of problems and didn't quite get rolling. By the time we got into second, I would have needed to be right on the back of Nori to stay with him because he was riding at a really good pace. I just didn't quite have those 3 or 4 tenths today so I will come back at Assen and try to step it up."
Michel Fabrizio: "I didn't expect these results here at Valencia, at the most a top 5 position, because it's a difficult track for me. I'm really happy, the team gave me a lot of confidence. It was a really tough battle with Laconi, who was right behind me throughout the race. He brakes really late, I'm amazed he never managed to pass me!"
On his third appearance in World Supersport, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) finally managed to step onto the top of the podium. The British rider made the decisive move at the start of the final lap when he passed Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda), who was unable to respond. Third place went to Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who moved back into the lead of the championship, level on points with Crutchlow, who also set the new lap record in 1'36"865. Just off the podium was Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea), ahead of the Kawasaki of Katsuaki Fujiwara. Michele Pirro (Yamaha Lorenzini) finished in seventh place, but had the satisfaction of leading the first three laps. Qatar winner Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) could only finish ninth, while former leader Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) fared even worse with a disappointing 13th place. One of the pre-race favourites Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) had a race to forget when he was forced to retire with tyre problems.
The opening Superstock 1000 round was dominated from the start by Claudio Corti, who powered away from the front row of the grid into the lead. The battle for the runner-up slot was first between Javier Fores (Kawasaki Pedercini) and Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Honda), who were then joined by Xavier Simeon (Ducati Xerox). After a few laps, Corti upped the ante to eventually win the race with a five second lead over his pursuers. The other two podium finishers were Simeon and Berger. Pole sitter Davide Giugliano (MV Agusta) had to retire with a technical problem.
Danilo Petrucci made it two Italian winners today in Superstock with an overwhelming victory in the opening 600 class round. After dominating qualifying and setting pole, Petrucci met with no opposition in the race and he took the chequered flag by a comfortable margin of 4 seconds. Vincent Lonbois (MTM Yamaha) was second, with Gino Rea (Ten Kate Honda) preventing an all-Yamaha podium by holding off Marco Bussolotti (Yamaha Italia Junior) for third.