Double triumph for Ducati Xerox at Kyalami Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio made it a triumphant day for Ducati Xerox in the sixth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship at Kyalami. On the championship's return to South ...
Double triumph for Ducati Xerox at Kyalami
Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio made it a triumphant day for Ducati Xerox in the sixth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship at Kyalami. On the championship's return to South Africa for the first time in seven years, 53,000 spectators witnessed two 1-2 wins for the Japanese rider and his Italian team-mate. It was a day of misfortune once again for Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike), who had to retire in race 2 after claiming a podium in the first encounter. The races also saw Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) take his first WSBK podium, while Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano gave Aprilia an overall good result with two fifths and two sevenths respectively.
Haga clinched his fifth win this year with a commanding performance in race 1. After two days in the shadows, the points leader came good in the race and from the mid-point onwards ran towards the chequered flag with ease. Fabrizio and Spies had to settle for the other two podium slots, in that order, after a mid-race battle that was decided when the American made a slight mistake, his foot slipping off the pegs. Rea and Biaggi had quite a scrap for fourth place, with the British rider getting the nod over the Italian. Biaggi once again showed he had the speed and the pace to fight for the podium, but he lost contact with the leading trio when he got stuck behind Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) for a couple of laps, the Spaniard eventually finishing sixth overall. Nakano took the second Aprilia to seventh ahead of Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare), while BMW had a difficult race, with Ruben Xaus crashing out and Steve Martin the final finisher.
Noriyuki Haga: "On Friday and Saturday we had quite a big problem but we tried to fix the suspension and couldn't find a solution. This morning we found a little better feeling but it was not perfect. My feeling was that it would be difficult to win, but in the end I am very satisfied with the victory. During the race my arm was not giving any problems, only my leg! On the last lap I saw a small bird, it looked like a pigeon and I was a bit worried because I didn't want to see any birds here!"
Michel Fabrizio: "It is a pity that the fight with Ben was for second place and not for first. Ben and I for sure lost out to Nori, because when you pass each other a few times you lose a lot of time. When Nori passed me, I lost a bit of confidence in the front so I had to settle for second place. For race 2 we'll have to make a change to the front."
Ben Spies: "We were kind of struggling to hang in there. It was a good race for all three of us and we were all three together. I passed Michel and had bit of a go to get past Nori but made a mistake and had to settle for third. We were really strong in a couple of points of the track, but giving away too much time in a couple of corners, and I couldn't get up there with them."
Haga led home Fabrizio to the flag in race 2, giving the Ducati Xerox team a perfect weekend. This time round the Japanese rider led for 23 of the 24 laps and he has now pulled out a large lead in the points table. Fabrizio was again the man on his tail, the Italian livening up proceedings on the final lap with a couple of passes on his team-mate, but twice Haga came back to clinch his sixth win of the season. Lap 3 saw the demise of Spies, whose R1 machine entered the pits with a gear shift problem. The Texan has now been overtaken in the championship by Fabrizio and is 88 points behind Haga. Rea scored his first WSBK podium, the youngster from Northern Ireland ending a positive weekend in third. Rea calmly held off the pressure from fellow-Brit Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), who had crashed out of race 1 but who in turn managed to keep Biaggi at bay. The Italian RSV4 machine again showed no lack of top speed, Biaggi clocking 255 km/h in the race. Nakano picked up another seventh on the second Aprilia, behind Checa and ahead of Kagayama. A ninth place for Yamaha was earned by Tom Sykes, while South African Sheridan Morais took the leading Kawasaki to eleventh place in front of his home crowd. BMW had a another race to forget, with no points recorded by either Ruben Xaus and Steve Martin.
Noriyuki Haga: "We get some good points this weekend and I really enjoyed battling with Michel in the second race. We changed a little bit the setting from the first race and that feeling was a bit better, but at some point it got worse. On the last lap I saw Michel do harder braking than me, and of course I took the wrong line but I was able to open the gas and get to the line first."
Michel Fabrizio: "It was a very good weekend. Yesterday I was second by one thousandth, today by one curve! The race was really good, I tried right until the very end. Maybe I did the wrong thing by telling Nori where I was strong in race 1 because he pushed harder than me in that sector. On the last lap, if he hadn't been my team-mate I would have given him a push with the shoulder! But I'm happy, I'm second in the championship and that's a good thing."
Jonathan Rea: "It's gone really well. I have to thank all of my crew for making a big effort after the slow start to the season. They upped the development and now everything's fallen into place. I felt very good today and when the bunch behind caught me I thought I had to get third straight away and have some reserve at the end."
Eugene Laverty stormed to a third win of the year at Kyalami after a dominating performance on his Parkalgar Honda machine. The Irishman pulled out a commanding four second lead in the early laps and from that moment on could administer his advantage until the flag. With this win, Laverty managed to gain five points in the championship battle on Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport), whose lead has been cut to 13 points. Crutchlow was held up by a six-rider battle in the early laps and was unable to latch onto Laverty, then when he finally broke through he had to settle for second as the two were lapping at the same pace in the final laps. The battle for the final podium place produced a real surprise, as Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com), scrapping for third, obstructed each other at the final corner and were edged out by Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea), who got on to the Supersport podium for the first time. The race saw a number of missed opportunities as first Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) crashed out when he had third place in the bag, and then Gianluca Nannelli (ParkinGo Triumph) went down while fighting for fifth. The Triumph team had to settle for seventh with Garry McCoy, who finished behind sixth-placed Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), in difficulty in the final laps.