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Biaggi gets his title

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Biaggi celebrates with fans.

Max
Biaggi backed into his fifth world championship, and first World
Superbike crown, when Leon Haslam first made a mistake, then had an
engine failure, at the second-last round of the 2010 season at the
Imola circuit in Italy.

Haslam had to finish ahead of the Italian’s
Aprilia in order to keep things alive for the last races at
Magny-Cours October 3; he managed it in the first race despite
running off track while trying to steal the lead from Carlos Checa
and his Althea Ducati.

He
still managed a fifth to Biaggi’s 11th,
but it all went wrong in the second race when his motor went "pop,"
only his second mechanical failure of the year, allowing Biaggi to
grab the crown with a fifth place.

Biaggi, with four 125 and 250 GP
titles to his credit, now adds a four-stroke crown to his trophy
cabinet.

The
racing was dominated by Checa, who won both contests. It was close in
the first battle, but Checa checked out (more or less) in the second
to take a much more comfortable victory. With Ducati’s formal
withdrawal from the series in 2011, there’s no doubt that the Althea
team and Checa will be first in line for any development stuff from
Bologna. Ducati’s withdrawal was no doubt for financial or perhaps
technical resource reasons, since with five of the top 10 in both
races on the Italian brand, including the top three in race one and
top two in race two, it would appear there’s no lack of
competitiveness.

Checa
said, "It’s a
fantastic weekend, I can’t remember one like that. It was a very good
job by the team. Yesterday I was struggling on the wet, but today
they were two exciting races, more the first than the second …
congratulations to Max for the title and a shame for Leon Haslam."

Haslam,
who’s almost certain to lock up second place, said, "It is
frustrating that it has ended the way it has because I was hoping to
take the fight to Magny-Cours, but that’s racing." He blamed
himself for the mistake that blew his chance at winning the first
race, and just shrugged off the bad luck with the mechanical in the
second. "I am a bit ticked off because this is only the second
race weekend when I have not been on the podium. So, I better make up
for it in Magny-Cours by winning both races!"

Lorenzo
Lanzi did his part for the Italian factory, taking second and seventh
on the DFX Duck, while a resurgent Noriyuki Haga on the factory
Xerox-sponsored machines grabbed a double podium with third and
second, amazing considering his lowly 15th-place
qualifying result. He’s looking for a ride for next season with the
factory Ducati team folding, and has been rumoured to be getting a
satellite Aprilia gig.

The
biggest shock of the weekend was probably the performance of Tom
Sykes on the aging ZX-10 Kawasaki, due for replacement in 2011. He
not only grabbed Superpole, but collected a sixth and fourth, lending
credence to the strong rumours that the Kawasaki WSB team is trying
to arrange funding to get him a third factory bike next season.

Jonathon
Rea, third in the title chase but only just ahead of Checa, couldn’t
race his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda after a nasty fall in practice left
him with cracks in a collar bone and scaphoid. Unbelievably, he still
managed to qualify his backup bike, but wisely decided to sit out the
races.

Next
(and final) race, Magny-Cours, France, October 3.

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