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05 September 2011

2011 Superbike World Championship

2011 Superbike World Championship, round 10 race report, Nurburgring, Germany

In two completely contrasting races at the Nurburgring today, BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Leon Haslam battled back from off-track excursions in each race to fight his way to achieve two respectable results on his S 1000 RR, finishing fifth and ninth respectively at the challenging German circuit.

In sunny conditions for race one, Haslam made a good start to the 20-lap race, slotting into seventh place after the first corner and then fighting his way up to fifth place in the early stages. As he set off after the top four in front of him, Haslam was visibly pushing hard but unfortunately ran off the track on lap six, eventually re-joining the race but sadly down in 14th place.

However, the hard-charging Brit was determined to make amends for his mistake, and started to claw his way back through the pack, moving up to 12th by half-race distance, and then skilfully passing Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea, Joan Lascorz, Michel Fabrizio and Leon Camier within the space of a couple of laps to move up to sixth place. With Sylvain Guintoli several seconds in front of him, it took Haslam the remainder of the race to ‘reel-in’ his former team-mate, eventually passing him on the very last lap to secure fifth place on his S 1000 RR, a remarkable achievement considering his earlier misfortune.

BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini scored yet another strong finish on his RR in ninth place, while James Toseland finished in 13th on his 200th WSBK race, two places in front of BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Troy Corser, who finished his 370th WSBK race in the points in 15th place.

Race two couldn’t have been more different. The start was delayed by 10 minutes due to heavy rain in the Eifel Mountains, which saturated the circuit. Starting from sixth on the grid (due to the omission of the injured Max Biaggi from the starting line-up) a brave Leon Haslam made a reasonable start in the treacherous conditions, feeling his way around the circuit to determine grip levels. From seventh position, Haslam passed Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty on lap 2, but just pushed too hard on lap 3 and crashed while closing down Sylvain Guintoli.

Haslam remounted, albeit it in last place, while the rain continued incessantly. James Toseland then crashed out of contention on lap 9, while his BMW Motorrad Italia team-mate Ayrton Badovini again made his way into the top ten, despite the atrocious conditions. The second half of the race saw Ayrton move up to ninth, as he saw Australian Mark Aitchison crash in front of him, with Leon moving up into 13th, behind team-mate Corser.

Moving past Corser into 12th place, the ‘never-say-die’ Derbyshireman gained another place when Leon Camier crashed out on lap 12. Then it was leader Noriyuki Haga who was the next victim, crashing his Aprilia out of the lead after having had a lead of over eight seconds. Then it was the turn of Tom Sykes to enjoy a spell out in front.

At this point, with riders gesticulating at the organisers to stop proceedings for safety reasons, as soon as the race reached two-thirds distance, the red flags came out and Sykes was indeed declared the winner, with Guintoli and Eugene Laverty completing the podium. Top BMW rider was Ayrton Badovini, who finished in seventh, while Haslam was awarded ninth, after having bravely remounted and battled through the adverse conditions. Troy Corser finished race two in 12th place, with only 13 riders making it through to the finish. After today’s results, Haslam remains fifth in the championship standings, Badovini ninth and Corser rounds out the top 15.

Leon Haslam: “In race one I got a good start and managed to pass two guys. Then I tried to bridge the gap to Eugene Laverty but just pushed a little bit too hard. I got a false neutral and ran off the track. To be fair, I thought the race was over. But I got my head down and managed to get back to fifth. I am happy to have managed that, but disappointed that I ran off. But the battling was fun for sure.

”I felt real good to be honest in race two. The crash was my fault as I clipped a white line which in these conditions is not good and I went down. But I managed to get back going and climb all the way up to seventh, but the race was stopped before I crossed the line and the results were taken from the lap before. The conditions out there were really bad and it probably should have been stopped earlier. I think I could have got on the podium today because my times at the end were really good. But it was the right decision to stop the race for sure.”

Troy Corser: “Today has been difficult for sure. The low starting position made life very difficult because the first corner tends to spread the field out and you just cannot make the time back. Race two was just so wet and I could hardly see what was going on. The rain was causing me to aquaplane everywhere and I was having some big slides. The rain kept coming and going, making life very difficult, and I just wanted to finish the race. I saw James Toseland crash in front of me and then I decided to just keep it upright and finish the best I could. It was the right decision to stop the race because it was becoming very hard to ride safely out there but I am just happy to bring it home and score some points.”

Head of BMW Motorrad Motorsport Bernhard Gobmeier: “The first race was very exciting. Initially, we had Leon’s run-off that cost him a few seconds. And in the end he missed the podium exactly by this margin. On top of that comes the fact that in the closing stages he was doing the fastest lap times. That showed that we are heading in a very good direction and are able to race at the front. In the second race we proved that we are very strong also in the wet. In these conditions we did top lap times, but the poor visibility and the extremely difficult conditions lead to the crash and prevented Leon getting better results. Maybe it would have been a different story if the race would have been stopped earlier and restarted. To sum it up: not amazing results, but a positive weekend because we proved that we are able to compete at the front.”

Race one
1. Carlos Checa (ESP – Ducati),
2. Marco Melandri (ITA – Yamaha),
3. Noriyuki Haga (JPN – Aprilia),

5. Leon Haslam (GBR - BMW Motorrad Motorsport),
9. Ayrton Badovini (ITA - BMW Motorrad Italia),
13. James Toseland (GBR - BMW Motorrad Italia),
15. Troy Corser (AUS - BMW Motorrad Motorsport)

Race two
1. Tom Sykes (GBR – Kawasaki),
2. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA – Ducati),
3 Jakub Smrz (CZE – Ducati),

7. Ayrton Badovini (ITA - BMW Motorrad Italia),
9. Leon Haslam (GBR - BMW Motorrad Motorsport),
12. Troy Corser (AUS - BMW Motorrad Motorsport),
DNF - James Toseland (GBR - BMW Motorrad Italia)

1.Checa – 376,
2.Melandri – 302,
3.Biaggi – 281,

5.Haslam – 176,
9.Badovini – 134,
15.Corser – 67,
22.Toseland – 13

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