Max Biaggi finally located his mojo at the Adriatic coastal track of Misano in Italy, taking a double win and firming up a solid lead in his quest for the 2012 World Superbike championship.
It was a dominating performance by the Italian and his Aprilia, particularly given his relatively lowly 10th qualifying position.
The former GP star got to the front pack by half-distance in Race 1, then grabbed the lead with three laps left.
In Race 2, a demon start found him third after the first lap; he grabbed the lead on lap four and was never headed, winning by more than five seconds.
On the other hand, the guy who was supposed to be his main rival, 2011 champion Carlos Checa had another up and down day – literally. Second in the first race (he had an even worse qualifying than Biaggi, back in 16th spot) by only 3/10 of a second, he crashed out of the second race after contact with BMW’s Marco Melandri and is now down in fifth in the standings at the half-way point in the season, a massive 60 points behind Biaggi.
His team-mate Davide Gugliano had a similar result; an excellent third in Race 1, he also crashed in Race 2.
Ten Kate Castrol Honda rider Jonathon Rea was a happy camper, a fifth and a second pushing him up into second position in the standings. He led most of the first race until tire wear slowed him, then ran a bit more conservatively in race two.
” The first race was quite strange and I was comfortable at the front in the first part, but then the tyre went off so quickly and dramatically and it was all I could do to bring it home in fifth,” said the Irishman. “I had to ride a perfect race in the second outing because from about lap nine I had ‘+0, Haslam’ on my board and that went on for the whole race.”
Haslam grabbed the last podium, with his BMW team-mate Marco Melandri just behind. Melandri’s result has been classed as “under investigation” pending an official look at his collision with Checa.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, who collected yet another pole position (his fifth of the seven events), collected a fourth and a seventh, keeping him third overall in the championship chase.
The genial Yorkshireman said, “To be honest race one was not too bad … we have had a difficult weekend trying to find traction with the bike in hot conditions. Track temperatures went up considerably for race two and … we made the wrong tyre selection. Others made bigger mistakes today. So, we lost a few points but I’m still third in the championship after a bit of a hard weekend.”
World Championship Point Standings (after 7 of 14 rounds):
1. Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia Racing Team, 210.5 points
2. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Ten Kate Castrol Honda, 172
3. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 164.5
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad Motorsport, 155.5
5. Carlos Checa, Spain, Althea Ducati, 150.5
6. Leon Haslam, U.K., BMW Motorrad Motorsport, 123
7. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, 103
8. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Aprilia Racing Team, 95
9. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Althea Ducati, 80
10. Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic, Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, 75.5
Next event, July 1, Aragon Circuit, Spain.