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26 September 2011

2011 Superbike World Championship


2011 Superbike World Championship race report from Imola, Italy

A top-five finish in race two was the best result that BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Leon Haslam could manage at Imola today after the tough Brit crashed out of the first race while in sixth place and chasing down the leading pack.

Having qualified on the second row of the grid, Haslam made a decent start to the first race and was running in seventh after getting caught up in some close battles in the early stages. It took about five laps for Haslam to fight off early challenges from Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli before he could start to gap these riders and close down Eugene Laverty and the leading riders.

However, Haslam crashed out of contention while pushing hard after his bike jumped out of gear on lap 8, leaving BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini as the top S 1000 RR rider in the race. The Italian rode hard to finish in ninth, while Troy Corser recovered from a fourth row starting position to finish in 12th.

The sunny conditions continued for race two, with Haslam making a visibly better start into sixth, behind WSBK champion elect Carlos Checa. Leon then fought his way past Tom Sykes to move up into fifth, all the while fighting off the attentions of race one podium finisher Noriuki Haga, who eventually managed to squeeze past on lap 4.

On lap 6, Leon moved up into fifth place and tried to close the gap on the leaders, but came under increasing pressure from Marco Melandri, who got past on lap 10. However, Melandri out-braked himself soon after, allowing Haslam to regain his position. A mistake on lap 13 then allowed Eugene Laverty to slip through and take fifth off Haslam, but as leader Jonathan Rea was forced to retire with a technical problem, Haslam moved into the top five again.

Despite pushing Laverty all the way to the finish, Haslam wasn’t able to take the fourth spot off the Irishman and was forced to settle for fifth, while Ayrton Badovini secured another top ten finish. Troy Corser retired from race two with a suspected technical problem.

There’s no respite for the WSBK teams, as the entire paddock moves straight to France for the 12th round of the series, which takes place this coming weekend in Magny-Cours.

Leon Haslam: “In the early stages of race one I was struggling to push how I wanted to, but after a few laps I found a good rhythm and I was catching Checa and Sykes, who were fighting for the podium. Unfortunately I crashed out as I was having an issue with the gears, when I found a false neutral and lost control. In race 2 we made some small changes to try and improve the bike but I think the increase in air temperature meant things didn’t work out as we planned. I was having quite a few issues in the early laps trying to adapt to the changes. By that time the leading group had gone and I just had to try and maintain my position.”

Troy Corser: “In race one I got a pretty good start. Sadly I ran a little bit wide at the ‘Tosa’ hairpin and that prevented me from moving forward in the early stages. For the race we had made quite a few changes to the RR, so it took me a few laps to adapt and learn how to get the most out of it, but once I did I was able to run good lap times. In race two I felt something was wrong with the bike as I could hear a strange noise coming from it. I am not sure where it was coming from or what it was but something wasn’t right. So I decided to pull in and let the guys look over the bike rather than stay out there and risk crashing or damaging the bike further. It’s a shame because I felt good and we could have scored some good points.”

Bernhard Gobmeier – Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “After our good lap times on Friday and Saturday we of course expected more from the weekend. In the first race, we had a crash due to the bike jumping out of gear going into the turn. Up until then the lap times were great and Leon was looking good. In the second race the lap times were not as strong, so we were happy finishing in sixth. It was hard fought and well deserved, but there is room for improvement and we aim to transfer the information we collected here into top results next week at Magny-Cours.”



Results

Race one: 1. Rea (GBR – Honda), 2. Haga (JPN – Aprilia), 3. Checa (ESP – Ducati), 9. Ayrton Badovini (ITA – BMW Motorrad Italia), 12. Troy Corser (AUS – BMW Motorrad Motorsport), DNF – Leon Haslam (GBR – BMW Motorrad Motorsport)

Race two: 1. Checa (ESP – Ducati), 2. Haga (JPN – Aprilia, 3. Camier (GBR – Aprilia), 5. Leon Haslam (GBR – BMW Motorrad Motorsport), 10. Ayrton Badovini (ITA – BMW Motorrad Italia), DNF Troy Corser (AUS – BMW Motorrad Motorsport)

Points: 1. Checa – 417, 2. Melandri – 320, 3. Biaggi – 281, 5. Haslam – 187, 9. Badovini – 147, 15. Corser – 71

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