Wow! Race 2 for the Superbike class at Donnington will go down as probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. I remember Fogarty and Chili at Assen many years ago; add another 3 riders and you’ve got yesterday’s race 2. Haslam, Melandri, Biaggi, Rea and Sykes all jockeying for position over the 2nd half of the race. I can’t remember how many overtakes there were but there were a lot, with passes being made at almost every turn! And while Rea might be seen as the monkey for knocking Haslam into Melandri on the last corner, Melandri needs to take responsibility for going in too hot and leaving the door open for Rea. One also has to mention Checa riding into the back of Laverty at the start of the race and subsequently taking his team-mate Guiliano and Liberty Effenberg’s Smrz out. A DNF for Checa means that things are really hotting up at the sharp end of the points table.
Melandri’s 1st race win ( with Haslam in 2nd ) is also an impressive first for the BMW Italia team. Pity they couldn’t pull it through in the second race as well.
In a slightly calmer SuperSport race, our South African boys mostly did well. Morais finished with a sixth place and Quarmby 7th. Morais had a slow start but a steady race, something he needed to get over his recent spate of DNFs. Quarmby did well to pick up a few positions on his starting place, while Matthew Scholtz unfortunately went down mid-race.
All n all, a fantastic race weekend which puts the misery of Monza well behind us.
There was mixed fortunes for all classes in this weekend’s WSBK series. The biggest news of course is Haga’s massive high side coming into Coppis in the 2nd SBK heat. It was initially thought that he had fractured T8 and 9 vertebrae but after careful inspection, these were found to be sealed and from an earlier incident. The issues now relate to a fracture ulna and scapula. Screews and paltes were inserted into the forearm but the shoulder will just need to be rested. Even considering the seriousness of the injuries, you can bet Nori will be back at Brno in a month’s time.
The first race saw Biaggi sticking close to Spies for most of the race but it ended that way and Biaggi never really challenged. Biaggi also in second in the 2nd heat made a real hash of Melbourne loop and slid off. He got back on and promptly almost took Lagrive out. Bad boy but typically Biaggi. Haslam took a well fought 2nd place with Byrne and Fabrizio right behind. Thins are really tight at the top of the log with only 14 points separating Spies and Haga.
Cal Crutchlow took honours again in the SuperSport class after Laverty slid of early in the race. Gary McCoy, even though going on antient, took a well deserved 3rd place for Triumph.
This past weekend’s MotoGP had some of the best racing since Stoner and Rossi’s duel at Laguna Seca last year. Lorenzo and Rossi tagged each other for most of the race until the 3rd lap to go, when Rossi made his move. From then on, there were a number of lead changes per lap until the last with Lorenzo leaving the door open on the last corner, allowing Rossi through to take his second win of the season. The post-race interviews showed a very miffed-looking Lorenzo – he certainly can’t have any gripes with Rossi as the racing was clean and fair. You leave the door open, you lose …
The 250cc’s saw an easy win for Bautista when Simoncelli slid of the track near the start and Barbera could not stay on the same pace. A deserved win.
The big news in 125cc is that Simoni Corsi has split from Jack&Jones and is moving to Fontana for the rest of the season.
The previous weekend’s WSBK races at Assen were the usual bomb, starting with a 3-way battle up front in the premier class, race 1. Haga spent most of the race leading Spies and and fast-riding Leon Haslam until the last lap, when Spies made a last ditch effort in a very fast part of the circuit to move past Haga for the win. Haslam finished 3rd also recording the fastest lap of the race.
The 2nd race went almost in the same direction with Spies sprinting out the blocks to lead the rest of the field on the first lap. Unfortunately he went into lap 2 too hot and slid out on a corner leaving Haga with a good lead which he kept to the end. Haslam, now in second, went on to finish in the same position increasing his tally of points and keeping him in contention for the championship.
The Supersport 600 race was the usual start-to-finish mad dash with Laverty just pipping Cal Crutchlow at the last. Lascorz came 3rd, even though he led almost to the end but was overtaken by both Laverty and Crutchlow on the last lap.
Rossi put on a splendid display of riding at Jerez this weekend past, chipping away at Danni Pedrosa’s lead initially and then going past to stay out in front. Stoner brought his under-par Ducati home in 3rd after nearly having some attention from a slow starting Lorenzo, who tipped his bike in on a corner and lost the front end. Du Puniet finished in 4th and Melandri brought the non-developed Hayate Kawasaki home in 5th – a great result for the team. This leaves a very tight field at the top of the championship but I think that Rossi’s consistency might take him to another title at the end of this year.
The racing in the 250cc class was as fierce as ever with 4 riders battling at the front for the whole race – Bautista, Aoyama, Simoncelli and Barbera. The lead changed continuously throughout most of the race with Simoncelli and Barbera starting to fall of the pace near the end. Bautista wanted this home win badly but Aoyama moved in front of him on the very last corner to take the victory; just as Bautista had taken the win in Motegi, Aoyama’s home race.
Bradley Smith took his first win in 125cc racing with a huge margin over the rest of the field. Not known for his starts, Smith got away well with Simon in tow but on lap 5 Simon has a nasty high side and Smith spent the rest of the race up front and alone. Iannone, championship leader, fell off on lap 1 so things are very tight at the top of the log.
The most interesting news to come out of the F1 paddock for years is the departure of Honda from Formula 1. To say this puts a damper on things is putting it mildly and it’s possible there could be more departures. This leaves Barrichelo and Button without drives for next season if a buyer for the team is not found. Other teams using Honda engines are also affected as Honda will not supply them from next year either.
The recent discussions of cost cutting are interesting but is this enough to save a sport which in recent years has gone stratospheric on cost but very low on interest? The most interesting motor sports this past year have been
WSBK and WRC, both nowhere near as much in the limelight as Formula 1 but they are picking up fans by the thousands and WSBK in particular will possibly have its most successful season in the up coming year.
Troy Bayliss took both heats of yesterday’s end of year meeting to cap a great career in bike racing. Leading from the front in both heats, no one came close to his pace except for Haga who retired with a mech gremlin in the first race and jump started the second. You could see the emotion on his face as he toured around the track with his helmet off after the last race – surely all greats feel the same on their last outing. Including Michael Schumacher who was prowling around the start line at the beginning of the race.
Talking about the track, what a great effort by the Portuguese and this is certainly a meeting to look forward to on the calendar. Kudos to Haslam for taking 3rd in the second race – this certainly bodes well for his participation next year in the premier class. He just has to do something about those failing legs on the entry to corners. Fabrizio had one bad race knocking Biaggi off first time around, and then came second for the last race – hot and cold you might say.
Cal Crutchlow put in 2 good efforts as well with Corser picking up 2nd in the championship with 2 reasonable efforts. It was great to see Brendon Roberts take the Stock 100 championship but you have to say that Xavier Simeon through it away with his front end slide. Sofoglu got back to his winning ways in the Supersport race but I have to say his remonstrations half way through the race were not quite suited.
Anyhow, great season of racing and can’t wait for next year. What with newcomers BMW and Aprilia, and Haga on the Ducati, it’s going to be very interesting.
125cc saw Talmasci take his first win of the season and Simoncelli clinched the 250CC World Championship with one more round to go. The heat played a prominent role as the air temp was around 38 deg C for both these races and Simoncelli looked completely done in at the end of the race.
In the premier class, Rossi stalked an injured Pedrosa for the first half of the race and took over until the end winning his 9th race of the year – no mean feat with a 42 deg C air temp taking it out of everyone. Davidiziosa and Hayden had a great dice the whole race through but Hayden couldn’t make any passes stick and came home in 4th. One more to go at Valencia and there’s just pride left to play for.
Haga unusually rode a very good SuperPole to be no. 1 on the grid for the 1st race and went on to win – that’s 3 on the trot now. But the big story of race 1 was Troy Bayliss’ clinching of the 2008 championship with a 3rd place in that race, and that on the 3rd model of Ducati in his career. Nieto came good at the end of the season with a well-fought 2nd place. Corser who could’ve come closer to Bayliss only made 6th; as a result Haga has taken over 2nd position in the championship.
The 2nd race ran in a similar vein but Bayliss managed to get the lead from Haga a few laps from the end. Haga, with worn tyres, had no response. So nearly the end of this season and we’re all looking forward to next year already. There’s some talk about Yamaha’s active Ohlins being disallowed for next year – something to look out for.
Casey Stoner put the last 2 rounds behind him and took the Aussie race by the horns – after starting from pole, he lead all the way to the chequered flag. Rossi has a bad fall in qualifying leading to whiplash and a 12th place on the starting grid, but he didn’t let that get him down and road the standard brilliant race to finish 2nd.
The 250cc race included a great duel between Kallio, Corsi, Bautista and SImoncelli. The latter 2 were changing positions almost every lap but SImoncelli just managed to pip Bautista to the line. He hasn’t quite clinched the championship yet but is looking good; I have to say I’m not a fan of his aggressive style.
In the 125’s, Mike de Meglio led from start to finish and is a shoo-in for the championship title.
Rossi’s win at Motegi has won him the 2008 MGP title, his 6th in 8 years. This is probably his best having been out of it for the last 2 years. Stoner, being first out of the blocks, tried his best to stay at the front of the pack but Rossi came past 3/4 way through the race and stayed there for the rest. I fitting victory to a brilliant hard-fought year. The most interesting news to come out of Sunday’s race was the statement of a one-tyre make for next season. While the choice has gone out to tender, you’d be hard pressed to bet against Bridgestone, especially now that quite a few Michelin guys have changed to Bridgestone during this season.
This weekend’s race takes place at Philip Island in Australia, a winding and often wind-swept track that always provides great racing. In practice, Hayden has been fastest in the wet with Stoner best in the dry. But don’t forget about Rossi – he’s been very strong in race trim all year long so practice and qualifying performance can take a side seat.
To WSBK, Haga won both rounds at Vallelunga with close finishes in both rounds. The first race saw Biaggi dogging Haga for most of the race but he wasn’t able to get by the Japanese. Corser finished close behind the two dueling masters at the front with Neukirchner a distant 3rd. The second race saw a strong initial challenge by Bayliss and Corser but after TroyB went off in a slow left-hander on the last lap, it was all Haga. Fabrizio, made a strong finish and pipped Corser to the line for 2nd.
Haga has taken provisional pole for Sunday’s race at with Bayliss second. Considering the possibility of getting to second in the championship, one would be hard-pressed to bet against Haga for at least one of the races on Sunday.
In other news, Leon Haslam ( who did so well at Donnington in the wet ) has joined Stiggy’s Honda-based team for 2009.
For the second race in a row, Casey Stoner has bit the dust after leading the race, leaving Rossi to clean up and take 1st place. Fact is, Stoner is just pushing to hard ( or something about a scrubbed in tyre? – excuses, excuses ). The Ducati GP08 is a great bike, but at some point, the laws of physics come into play ( even if these guys are brilliant at what they do ). So, the race happened behind Rossi, with Toseland a creditable 6th, Lorenzo getting back to form in 2nd and Elias showing up a well-ridden 2nd podium in a row ( 3rd ). Somewhat of a surprise is Pedrosa’s immediate switch to Bridgestone after the race. The meeting with Michelin must have been very interesting … And pick of the 250cc race was Mikka Kallio hitting the back of his team mate, Aoyama. Bet he’s popular now.
The pressure was on Casey Stoner to produce in this past weekend’s race as Rossi was leading the championship; pressure or not, Stoner went down after a few laps from the leading position of the race. Rossi went on to win easily from an 11s cushion over the rest of the field. The rest of the field had an exciting race with the Suzuki’s and Pramac Ducati of Toni Elias duking it out. Tony Elias’ 2nd place is a great achievement considering that Stoner has been the only performing Ducati in the field this year.