Tag Archives: World Superbikes

Desert, island, reading

Nascar rides into the sunset

Nascar in the desert, Superbikes beside the seaside (pic stevelyon)

The World Superbike season got underway in underwhelming style and Nascar got back to a short-ish track after the drama of Daytona, but it was the boys of World Supersport who put on the best show and claimed my race of the week. Watch them put the ‘super’ in Supersport here.

Carlos Checa made World Superbikes look easy with two wins at Phillip Island, while Max Biaggi had a solid start to his title defence and Marco Melandri made his mark with a podium on his debut. The Superbikes were unusually mute as Ducati’s works absence barely registered, a red bike controlled nearly the whole weekend regardless, so it was left to Supersport to provide the entertainment. After a thrilling contest they nearly had to split the winner’s trophy in three as Scassa, Lowes and home-hero Brock Parkes crossed the line as one, Luca Scassa emerging the winner by a nose. Classic Phillip Island and the best action of the weekend even before the photo-finish.

Meanwhile in the desert Kyle Busch wanted to take home three trophies from Phoenix after a win in Trucks and a rare lights-to-flag victory in Nationwide before saddling up for the Sprint Cup encounter. He nearly scored his hat-trick, as he did at Bristol last year, but then Jeff Gordon popped up to spoil the party to take his first win since 2009. Meanwhile last week’s Daytona fairytale turned into a nightmare for Trevor Bayne as he kept bouncing off the wall all weekend.

Jeff Gordon may have stole the headlines but Kyle Busch rode out of town with the title of twoworlds’ racer of the week by leading hundreds of laps at PIR and coming within nine miles of completing another three-from-three until the number 24 gently shuffled him aside.

We’ve now got nearly a month to wait for the Grand Prix circus to start doing anything of interest. There was no gossip from the F1 world this week as the paddock has read Bernie’s and Briatore’s biographies rendering them speechless…

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Haga and Biaggi’s Magny Cours encore

Haga's lucky magic bike

Haga's lucky magic bike - WSBK, Magny Cours 2004

Racing runs on many things, not all of them positive: money, oil, egos, scandals and scoundrels all play their part in sullying the sport we love. Fortunately it is also driven by passion, determination and a healthy dose of adrenaline, all of which were at work in the second race of the World Superbikes at Magny Cours last weekend where we were treated to the bizarre sight of the two leaders continuing to race after the chequered flag. We’ve seen racers pull up before they should, but this was a little more unusual.

Our heroes are ‘Nitro’ Nori Haga, the ever-exuberant Ducati rider who is well overdue a title, and his opponent is one Max Biaggi, he of sharp beard and short stature. After the 23rd of 23 laps the dueling duo appeared to carry on racing hard while their rivals cruised back shaking hands and taking the applause. Haga did appear to slow down and begin his celebrations before picking up the pace and riding the last lap at full tilt with Biaggi only a few bike lengths adrift. The experienced pair eventually called it a day after taking the flag for a second time.

So what happened? It looked as though Max may have missed the flag, while Nori probably saw this and thought “sod it, let’s have another lap then” in Japanese. I wishfully think that the riders were having such a good time they fancied racing until they ran out of fuel. Like a video game you can’t put down, I like to believe they simply had that ‘just one more go’ feeling. In reality it was probably just a daft error on their part, but who could argue with their little encore?

The World Superbike Championship has been a real humdinger with Ducati’s ‘Nitro’ Nori Haga and new Yamaha Moto GP hotshot Ben Spies tussling for the 2009 honours. With each rider taking a win out in the French countryside it was a fascinating encounter. Magny Cours is no Le Mans, but  the action into the Adelaide Hairpin is always a blast and this meeting is the track’s biggest event now that F1 has eschewed its gallic roots.

Seeing Nori leading the way here sent me back to 2004 when some talented friends of mine were enlisted to paint graffiti onto the Renegade Ducatis of Haga and Leon Haslam at Magny Cours. Haga took his one-off colours to victory that day, prompting an excited Japanese fellow in the pitlane to exclaim to my painter pals, “Thank you for lucky-magic-bike!”

Spies, who is destined to become the next Texan Tornado to strike Moto GP after snatching Toseland’s ride at Tech 3 Yamaha, is only ten points adrift of Haga on the works Ducati. Amazingly Haga has never held the World Superbike title before, so at the finale on the fantastic Portimao track Nori will be needing another lucky magic bike.

If you want to check the Magny Cours race for yourself, click right here.

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