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11 June 2012

Haslam at Misano

Hard-fought podium for Haslam at Misano

It was a day of mixed fortunes for the two BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders at Misano World Circuit in San Marino. While tyre issues hampered both their chances in the first race, Leon Haslam secured his fifth podium of the season with a brave third place in race two, closely followed by his team-mate Marco Melandri in fourth.

Race one had initially looked promising for Haslam, who made a great start from sixth on the grid up into fourth place before passing Davide Giugliano on lap 2 to move into third. A four-way battle for second place then developed, with much changing of positions between riders – including Melandri – who had battled his way up to fourth place from 13th on the grid.

By half distance, only 1.2 seconds separated second to seventh places, but tyre wear began to take effect among the BMW S 1000 RR riders in the cooler than anticipated conditions, with both Haslam and Melandri quickly dropping down the rankings. In the end, the best Haslam could do was hold onto 12th place, while Melandri was called back to the garage by his team after having dropped out of the points.

Race two was an entirely different story. Improved weather conditions and familiar blue Misano skies greeted the riders at the beginning of the second 24-lap race. Haslam made another great start up into third and although he was forced wide by Davide Giugliano, which also allowed Biaggi through, he fought his way back up into a podium placing on the tight track and bravely defended this position for the remainder of the race.

Marco Melandri had plenty of work to do from the fourth row of the grid, but he had also made a good start on his RR, up into seventh place by the end of the first lap. After Giugliano crashed out, he was then involved in a lengthy battle with fellow Italian Ayrton Badovini on the BMW Motorrad Goldbet SBK Team RR. They both passed pole-setter Tom Sykes when he ran wide on lap 12 and then Melandri squeezed past Badovini two laps later to move up into fourth place, which is where he finished the race. With Michel Fabrizio finishing the second race on 6th position, there were six BMW S 1000 RR in the top 6.

Max Biaggi did ‘the double’ in winning both races at Misano. However, in other races it was an extremely successful weekend for BMW Motorrad. In the day’s earlier FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race at the Marco Simoncelli circuit, a BMW ‘1-2-3’ was celebrated, with BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet team rider Sylvain Barrier posting his third victory in four races, closely followed by team-mate Lorenzo Baroni in second and fellow RR rider Michele Magnoni in third. And in yesterday’s second round of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship in Qatar, the RR proved itself as the bike to beat, as the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent won the “8 Hours of Doha” with riders Sébastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin.

The WSBK championship now moves on to Spain, where the next round will take place at the Motorland Aragon circuit on 1 July.

Leon Haslam: “It was another weekend where we challenged for the podium. In race 1 we were unlucky with the tyre, we could not do anything. We were fighting for a podium position but then had a tyre issue and dropped three to four seconds a lap. The tyre was unrideable, so to get four points I was quite happy with but also frustrated because after these strong first laps we did not get the podium in race one. But we did it in the second one.

“Between the races the boys were working hard; we changed the set-up and made a different tyre choice. This tyre was definitely a lot better. It was a good battle with Johnny. I thought I had the pace to overtake him but it seems it took me too long to get past Tom and the other guys. And Johnny was quicker than me in a couple of corners which made overtaking very difficult. He did a perfect race and we had to settle for third, which I don’t like doing. But I am happy to be back on the podium and a big thanks to BMW. Now we are heading to Aragón for two more days of testing. We will try to fine-tune a few things and get some more mileage on the different tyres.”

Marco Melandri: “In race 1 we used the smaller rear tyre, and the grip level was quite ok. Suddenly, after nine or ten laps the grip level dropped down. It took only another couple of laps and the tyre was gone completely. It was impossible to continue riding, so I decided to come back to the garage.

“In race 2 we used the bigger rear tyre. I originally preferred this tyre but we only had one to ride before the races. When we tested the bigger tyre in practice, we had more chattering than with the small one, but did not have the opportunity to fix this issue. As a result we focused on the small tyre for race 1. For race 2 we took the risk to go for the bigger tyre. The bike felt much more consistent and the grip level was much better but unfortunately the chattering was still really bad, so overtaking was tough.

“On lap 4 I was behind Carlos. I tried to pass him in turn four where I felt strong in braking. We were side by side, so I expected him to see me, but when we started to flick into the corner he seemed not to realize that I was next to him as he touched my leg with his shoulder and he lost the front. I am very sorry. Carlos is a great guy and a fair sportsman.

“Here in Misano I raced with a special helmet design. We will organize an auction on eBay in the next couple of days and donate the money to the people in Emilia Romagna who suffered as a result of the earthquake. Just follow me on Twitter and you will find out more about the details.”

Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director): “It was a difficult weekend for us. Already in Superpole, the weather played a trick on us. At the beginning of race 1 it was looking very good for us. Both riders showed a strong performance and we were in second and fourth. Marco even posted a (temporary) new lap record. But as the track temperatures were a bit cooler than yesterday, we chose the wrong tyre. From half distance on it wore completely. For the second race we made another tyre choice – one that we had already been successful with in Australia, where we were on the podium. Our expectations have been met with third and fourth place but with better starting positions, even more would have been possible...

“The fact that four RRs finished inside the top six in race 2 makes me particularly happy. All four have been very close, performance-wise, and we could prove that BMW as a marque belongs at the very top. We send hearty congratulations to our endurance colleagues, the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, who won the world championship round at Doha this weekend. We are very happy that they could celebrate such a dominant victory. Congrats to our BMW riders in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, too, for their impressive 1-2-3.”

Race one
1. Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia; 2. Checa (ESP) Ducati; 3. Giugliano (ITA) Ducati; 11. Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team; 12.Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 14. Fabrizio (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team; ; DNF – Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Race two
1. Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia; 2. Rea (GBR) Honda; 3. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 4. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 5. Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet; 6. Fabrizio (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet.

1. Biaggi – 210.5; 2. Rea – 172; 3. Sykes – 164.5; 4. Melandri – 155.5; 6. Haslam – 123; 11. Fabrizio – 58; 12. Badovini – 50

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