Interesting World Superbike stuff from Valencia in Spain on Sunday, not least a contrast in personalities.
High class: multiple world champion Troy Bayliss finishes second on his factory Xerox Ducati in the first race and has nothing to say except for compliments for the guy who beat him — Lorenzo Lanzi, his team-mate last year, no less, now racing as a privateer for the low-funded RG Racing Team.
Less than no class: Moto GP mid-packer (who couldn’t get a ride in Moto GP this year) Carlos Checa takes out Max Neukirchner and his Alstare Suzuki on the last corner of the last lap in a stupidly dim-bulb move that would have him under suspension in any lesser series.
What makes it so much worse is that Neukirchner had won Superpole and led every centimetre of the race up to that point; it would have been his first WSB win. What made it even worse yet was that Neukirchner broke his collarbone, Checa restarted to finish fifth and garner a handful of points, and then the Spaniard had the nerve to blame Neukirchner for an incident that was 110% his fault. Pathetic. You have to wonder if he’s related to Dani Pedrosa …
Up to then, it was a good race, marred by several crashes early on that seemed to be the fault of cooler conditions and riders losing the front as a result. Luminaries who went down included Noriyuki Haga (factory Yamaha), Michel Fabrizio, who replaced eventual winner Lanzi on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Rueben Xaus, another ex-Ducati factory guy on a support bike. Bayliss and Lanzi squabbled pretty much the whole contest, while farther back Checa had a horrible start but then ran a great race to get up to the front before losing his mind on the last lap.
A notable finish was Gregoria Lavilla (another Spaniard) on the Paul Bird Honda. This seriously privateer effort, based in the U.K., is financed by Paul Bird; Lavilla is a past U.K. Superbike champion with tons of talent but for some reason has always been overlooked by the top teams.
In the second race, crowd favourite (even in Spain they like him!) Haga rebounded for the Yamaha Motor Italia team, taking the point at about half distance and controlling the race to the end. He was followed to the line by Bayliss (who doesn’t much like Valencia and is no doubt delighted with two seconds for the day) and then Checa on the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda.
The day’s results leave Troy Bayliss in good control of the championship in what’s probably going to be his last season racing, followed by Fonsi Nieto on one of the Alstare Suzukis (with a fourth and a 10th at Valencia) and veteran (and past title holder) Troy Corser on the other Yamaha Motor Italia Yamaha R1.
There’s a three-week break until the next event at Assen in the Netherlands, April 27.
On the other hand, Max left the door WIDE open and could have issued invitations to go up his inside.
All he had to do was enter on a tight line and the race would have been his.
At least, that’s what I would have done…….
I was so enraged by Checkmate Checa’s move that I threw a bottle of water at the TV. Not smart. But then again, neither was Checa. How on earth did he justify that pass and blame Neukirchner? The contrast in press releases between Honda and Suzuki were great entertainment, a first class lesson in Corporate PR spin. 🙁