WSB – Africa Twins

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Michel Fabrizio is fast when he’s in the mood, but he’s not often in the
mood. Why does Ducati keep him on staff?

While Ducati managed to finally win a World Superbike race this year, at
Kyalami in South Africa last weekend, the brand still seems to be
floundering a bit, although in all honesty it has to be said that it’s
the factory team rather than the privateers that seems lost in space. 

So despite Michel Fabrizio’s dominating victory in round one at the South African circuit, the governing body has declared a three kg weight allowance for twins effective immediately. The new minimum weight is 165 kg, down from 168, while 1,000 cc four-cylinder bikes will remain at 162 kg.

Regardless of the politics, the WSB circus’ return to Kyalami provided the expected slam-bang action. Xerox Ducati’s Fabrizio took a reasonably comfortable first-race win ahead of Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and series leader Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki).

Haslam’s third slightly extended his series lead over Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, who finished fourth on the day. The finishers were quite strung out, unusual for WSB as a whole and for Kyalami, kind of a slam-bang sort of track, in particular.

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Leon Haslam, son of 1980s-1990s world GP hero Ron, is doing well in
holding on to a slender lead in his first shot at a world title.

The second race changed that, as the more usual sort of WSB action returned, with Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) taking a race two win as five riders were covered by 1.479 seconds at the flag. Any of the top three were in contention for the victory, even in the final lap.

Haslam aced out Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Max Biaggi went third for the Aprilia Alitalia team. Pole sitter Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) completed the top five, all on different manufacturer machinery.

Concert pianist (really!) James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) battled hard to sixth place, both he and Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad) overhauling a fading Fabrizio at the end. Jakub Smrz (Borciani-Guandalini Racing) was again ninth and 2009 double race winner Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) a shatteringly disappointing 10th.

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Somehow, Spanish pit popsies seem more enthusiastic than the South
African ones.

The top Kawasaki rider was Tom Sykes, 14th.

The bottom line for the championship was that Haslam’s second and a win compared to his closest competitor’s fourth and third (Max Biaggi on the Alitalia Aprilia) extended Haslam’s narrow lead heading into the next race at the fabulous Miller Motorsports Park track in Utah.

Standings after six of 14 events (12 of 28 races)

1. Leon Haslam, U.K., Alstare Suzuki, 222 points;
2. Max Biaggi, Italy, Alitalia Aprilia, 207;
3. TIE, Jonathon Rea, Ireland, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda, & Carlos Checa, Spain, Althea Ducati, 141;
5. James Toseland, U.K., Sterilgarda Yamaha, 125;
6. Noriyuki Haga, Japan, Xerox Ducati, 106;
7. Troy Corser, Australia, BMW Motorrrad BMW, 105;
8. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Xerox Ducati, 95;
9. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Sterilgarda Yamaha, 86;
10. Leon Camier, U.K., Alitalia Aprilia, 82.

Next event, Miller Motorsports Park, May 31, Utah, USA

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