Today’s World Superbike round from Monza was packed full of drama, with Leon Haslam scoring a podium finish in race one and then getting knocked off his S 1000 RR on the very first lap of race two. Troy Corser put in two strong performances with a seventh and a fifth, while BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini scored his best WSBK result to date, with a sixth place in race two.
In perfect weather conditions it was Troy Corser who made the best start to race one on his RR, taking the early lead from fourth on the grid, before being passed on the slipstream at the start of lap 2 on the long start-finish straight by Eugene Laverty and Max Biaggi.
Leon Haslam, meanwhile, had fought his way from sixth up to fourth, passing his Australian team-mate in pursuit of the leading trio of Laverty, Biaggi and Marco Melandri. As Laverty took a commanding lead on the way to his maiden WSBK victory, a dramatic and entertaining race-long battle ensued between Haslam, Biaggi and Melandri, with all manner of late-braking and slipstreaming antics, as well as some tough moves being exchanged by all three riders.
On the RR, Haslam gave as good as he got, and fought his way up into third place – and his second podium for BMW Motorrad Motorsport – despite a late charge by former 250cc world champion Marco Melandri. Troy Corser finished race one in seventh, while BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini finished in 11th.
Race two was just as eventful. While Troy Corser again took an early lead, his team-mate Leon Haslam’s race came to a premature end when he was knocked off by another rider at the very first turn.
When pole-sitter Max Biaggi took the lead and started to rack up a series of fastest laps, Corser’s best hope of staying with the amazing speed of the current WSBK champion was to benefit from the slipstream effect. He was soon caught and passed by Biaggi’s team-mate Leon Camier but managed to hold a solid third place until lap 6, when an aggressive move by Marco Melandri squeezed out Corser and in fact cost him three places.
The experienced Australian kept his cool though, regrouped and spent the remainder of the race chasing down Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, eventually finishing in a strong fifth place, just 4.502 seconds behind double race winner Eugene Laverty. Behind Corser, and scoring his best ever WSBK result, was BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini, who finished in sixth place.
Troy Corser: “On one hand I am happy with the way the two races have gone today but on the other hand I am slightly frustrated. I got a great start in both races and led the early laps. The bike felt good on the whole, we had a few tyre issues in race one which saw me slip back, and in race two I was pretty happy until I was squeezed out at the first corner by Marco Melandri. From there I lost some time and I just couldn’t get that back. The pace we showed this weekend suggested that we could push for the podium, but sadly that didn’t happen with me today. We have a test now before Salt Lake so hopefully we can continue to improve on what we have done already.”
Leon Haslam: “In race one I didn’t get the best of starts and I also made a few mistakes in the early laps which meant I had some work to do to catch the leading bunch. Still, I felt like I had the pace to run with the leaders. Max and I held each other up slightly which saw Eugene get away at the front but on the whole I was happy with the race and the bike. In race two I was hit from behind at the first corner on lap one. I am not 100% sure what happened but I crashed out of the race after getting a much better start. Following the crash I was taken to the medical centre where it was confirmed that I have broken a toe on my right foot, but I don’t see it being a problem for our forthcoming test, or the races in Salt Lake.”
Berhard Gobmeier – BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “On the whole we are happy with today. We are glad that we could achieve our second podium of the season. Obviously we were expecting a little bit more, but unfortunately Leon’s second race was finished early. With Troy we had some issues with the tyres as they seemed to wear quite quickly but still we are happy. It was clear in both races that we were able to do similar lap times and be as strong as the Yamahas. This means we have the speed. We just need to be a bit more consistent and fine-tune some of our race strategies. Now we are looking forward to the next races in the USA. I also want to congratulate Team BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike for their sixth position with Ayrton Badovini. This is a strong performance.”
Race one: 1. Laverty (IRL – Yamaha), 2. Biaggi (ITA – Aprilia), 3. Leon Haslam (GBR – BMW Motorrad Motorsport), 7. Troy Corser (AUS – BMW Motorrad Motorsport), 11. Ayrton Badovini (ITA – BMW Motorrad Italia)
Race two: 1. Laverty (IRL – Yamaha), 2. Melandri (ITA – Yamaha), 3. Fabrizio (ITA – Suzuki), 5. Corser (Aus – BMW Motorrad Motorsport), 6. Badovini (ITA – BMW Motorrad Italia), DNF. Leon Haslam (AUS – BMW Motorrad Motorsport)
Points: 1. Checa – 145, 2. Melandri – 118, 3. Biaggi – 117, 5. Haslam – 84, 11. Corser – 46, 12. Badovini – 35