French score big in day of chaos
Monday August 6, 2012
French riders Loris Baz and Sylvain Guintoli made the best of chaotic conditions to share victories in round 10 of the World Superbike title at Silverstone overnight.
Both races were hit by rain and eventually declared “wet” – the WSBK riders a victim of the same low front which was affecting competitors at the London Olympics.
While it was as day of celebration for the French connection, the battle for the championship took a dramatic twist when Italian Max Biaggi (Aprilia) crashed out of race one on the final lap, and then only followed up with a lowly 11th in race two.
Biaggi’s countryman and arch-rival Marco Melandri (BMW) went 6-8 to reduce Biaggi’s lead to just 10.5pts (274 to 263.5) with four rounds still remaining. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki, 222.5), defending champion Carlos Checa (Ducati, 220.5) and Jonathan Rea (Honda, 203.5) remain the only other title contenders.
“This day was actually unbelievable. The two races were completely different, but they were both equally as difficult,” said Melandri. “It was very important to finish today. Many young riders who are not involved in the championship fight were pushing very hard, so the races were not easy.
“However, I am so happy because we leave here without any damage and good points. Now I am looking forward to Moscow because the track is new for everybody. I just hope the weather will be more stable there.”
Checa and Melandri’s British teammate Leon Haslam (BMW) led for the most laps in race one, although it eventually became a lottery as the rain increased in intensity.
Sykes and Michel Fabrizio (BMW) also took turns at the front – the latter leading into the last lap – but on the final circuit Baz rocketed through from third place to remarkably claim the spoils by 0.383 seconds over Fabrizio, with Ayrton Badovini (BMW), Rea and Checa completing the top five.
But it wasn’t that simple, as Badovini careered spectacularly off his bike near the end, but was still classified in third despite being on the deck as he came across the line – while Rea was in fourth despite having nowhere to go and also falling.
Baz became just the fourth Frenchman to win a WSBK race, and the 53rd rider since the title’s inception in 1988.
“It is really special to win and to win in England because I raced here in British Superbike last year for a while,” said Baz. “The conditions in race one were crazy for a while and early on I was missing some grip but when I saw the rains coming I pushed hard even though it was quite wet but I stayed on the bike and I am really happy, as you can imagine, for this victory.”
The start of race two was delayed as rain threatened – and then delivered with some venom – on the 5.902km Silverstone circuit once again.
The race was eventually red-flagged at the end of lap nine, with positions declared at the end of lap eight when Guintoli, riding for a new Ducati team, was 0.881 seconds in front of Baz, followed by polesitter Jakub Smrz (Ducati), Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and Maxime Berger (Ducati).
It was Guintoli’s second win of the year.
A number of riders, including Baz and Smrz, were actually listed as “crashing” on the official results, but after several minutes of confusion because the race had not reached two-thirds distance, the result was declared on a countback, with half points awarded.
Australia’s David Johnson’s guest ride on a privateer Kawasaki ended in despair when he fell on the first attempt at race one, and he didn’t front the starter in race two.
SILVERSTONE WSBK RESULTS:
Race one: 18 laps
1 Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki
2 Michel Fabrizio, Italy, BMW +0.383
3 Ayrton Badovini, Italy, BMW +0.459
4 Jonathan Rea, Great Britain, Honda +0.539
5 Carlos Checa, Spain, Ducati +1.012
6 Leon Haslam, Great Britain, BMW +2.619
7 Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW +6.123
8 Tom Sykes, Great Britain, Kawasaki +9.170
9 Davide Giugliano, Italy, Ducati +19.022
10 Eugene Laverty, Great Britain, Aprilia +19.087
DNS Dave Johnson, Australia, Kawasaki
Fastest lap: Badovini – 2:06.764
Race two: 8 laps
1 Sylvain Guintoli, France, Ducati
2 Baz +0.881
3 Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic, Ducati +1.675
4 Laverty +19.045
5 Maxime Berger, France, Ducati +22.116
6 Checa +23.736
7 Chaz Davies, Great Britain, Aprilia +24.690
8 Melandri +26.197
9 Rea +26.861
10 John Hopkins, USA, Suzuki +27.191
Fastest lap: Baz – 2:24.324
CURRENT WORLD SUPERBIKE STANDINGS
(after 10 of 14 Rounds)
1 Biaggi 274
3 Sykes 222.5
4 Checa 220.5
5 Rea 203.5
6 Haslam 170
7 Laverty 160.5
8 Guintoli 122.5
9 Fabrizio 108.5
10 Davide Giugliano, Italy, Ducati 106
Nest round: Moscow, Russia, August 24-26
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