It was an all-Italian show in the World Superbike races at Brno July 10. True, there was a Japanese bike, but it was prepared in Italy and ridden by an Italian, and there was a Spanish rider, but he was on an Italian bike prepared near the Ducati factory.
In the end, the three top contenders in the series were all fairly pleased with their day. Marco Melandri on the factory Yamaha R-1 swapped wins with perhaps his least favourite Italian compatriot, Max Biaggi on the Alitalia Aprilia. Both were happy to get a win and championship points, both felt they should have won both contests.
In fact, either could have done so, multiple hair-raising passes in both races proving that. With a front-row seat behind, Spaniard Carlos Checa, series leader on the Althea Ducati, was the fastest rider on the track, but couldn’t get past the Yamaha-Aprilia road block in front of him. In the end, he was happy to collect a pair of third places and leave with the series lead, albeit reduced once again.
After the second race, Melandri said, “I didn’t give up but it was too difficult like in Aragon. I tried to do my best but Max was faster. Anyway it’s been a good day, we still have to do a bit more to get the double, but I’m happy. Max and I have had some nice battles in the last two rounds, very fair and clean so that’s good!”
The next three were the same in each race, Michel Fabrizio on the only Suzuki in the field taking his Alstare machine to two fourths, followed by Melandri’s team-mate Eugene Laverty and then by Italian Ayrton Badovini in both races.
Badovini is rapidly becoming the sensation of the year, regularly beating both factory BMWs of Leon Haslam and Troy Corser on his BMW Italia BMW. The 2010 European Supersport winner is highly rated by 2009 world endurance champion Steve Martin, one of the commentators on the world WSB TV feed, although Martin believes Badovini is a little “too polite” on the first lap or two, leading to him fighting for positions during the race.
The young Italian is likely to have a career ahead of him, particularly as the BMW factory is likely to be looking for two riders next season: Troy Corser is rumoured to be looking at retirement, while Leon Haslam is getting progressively fed up with the team’s lack of progress and is said to be actively looking for alternatives for the 2012 season.
Fabrizio, with a reputation for fearless speed and horrendous crashes, has also raised eyebrows with his performance so far on the underfunded and relatively technically-unsupported Alstare Suzuki. Admittedly, Brno is a smooth, fast track that plays to the Italian’s strengths, but he’s looked good all year. 2012 may bring the team revived Suzuki support, or perhaps an even better offer for Fabrizio.
Next event, Silverstone, U.K., July 31.
Standings after 16 of 26 races ( 8 or 13 events)
1. Carlos Checa, Spain, Althea Ducati, 293 points;
2. Max Biaggi, Italy, Alitalia Aprilia, 263;
3. Marco Melandri, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 240;
4. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Yamaha Factory Racing, 168;
5. Leon Haslam, U.K., BMW Motorrad, 137;
6. TIE, Leon Camier, U.K. Alitalia Aprilia, Michel Fabrizio, Alstare Suzuki, 134; 8. Ayrton Badovini, Italy, BMW Italia BMW, 106;
9. Noriyuki Haga, Japan, PATA Racing Team Aprilia, 99;
10. Jonathan Rea, U.K., Ten Kate Hannspree Honda, 94.