Checa Stops, Biaggi Wins

Henny Ray Abrams | May 31, 2010

TOOELE, UT, MAY 31: Aprilia Alitalia’s Max Biaggi won the first leg of the World Superbike double-header at Miller Motorsports Park when race leader Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) suffered a heartbreaking electrical problem less than three laps from the finish.Checa had over a three second lead and was well on his way to victory when he coasted to the side of the track exiting the “Attitudes,” about three-quarters of the way through the 19th lap. Biaggi inherited the lead and ran with it, crossing line with a raised fist and his fifth race of the season by 4.931 secs.”Yes, what I can say?” Biaggi asked after giving the new RSV4 motor its first win.  “Very lucky, first of all. I think Checa deserved that race, because he rode very hard.”The DNF was especially disheartening for Checa, who’s made MMP something of a second home track. Checa’s best weekend in WSB came here two years ago when he won both races from the pole position, his only WSB sweep. He was on his way to a repeat, having taken only his second pole position and sailing into the distance when he was stopped.Suzuki Alstare’s Leon Haslam worked his way through the field to take second and only lose five championship points to Biaggi. Haslam started badly, then found himself behind Team PATA B&G Ducati’s Jakub Smrz when a transmission problem sent oil billowing out on the first lap. By the time Smrz pulled off, Haslam had some catching up to do.At the halfway point of the season, race 13 of 26, Haslam has a ten point lead, 242 to 232 over Biaggi.”Yeah, you know I didn’t get the best of starts and I got stuck behind Jakub (Smrz); his engine blew up straight into turn one and he was losing quite a lot of oil and I didn’t want to pull too close and it took a fair few laps and obviously I got a gift that helped me a little bit with Carlos breaking down,” Haslam said.Ducati Xerox’s Nori Haga finished third, only his third podium of the year.”I’m here since three years I was making good results and I’m happy for third position, but just from the beginning laps the tire feeling is not so much constant and I try to find how to ride,” Haga said.Alitalia Aprilia’s Leon Camier, who spent much of the race in third, fell down to fourth place, but comfortably in front of the BMW of Troy Corser.Corser had his hands full with a charging Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati). Byrne moved up to sixth after winning a multi-rider battle that included seventh place finisher Luca Scassa (Supersonic Racing Ducati), Suzuki Alstare’s Sylvain Guintoli in eighth, Sterilgarda Yamaha’s James Toseland, and tenth place finisher Ruben Xaus (BMW).Team Pedercini Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden just missed out on a point when he was beaten by less than half a second by the factory Kawasaki of Chris Vermeulen, the 15th place finisher.There were a few  others who didn’t factor in the final results. Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio crashed on lap two and Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea crashed out on the third lap. Rea remounted to finish 14th.


Under a cloudy, overcast sky Biaggi got a jump on the field, but it was Camier on the outside in front of Biaggi into turn one. Meanwhile, Smrz was smoking badly for much of the lap before pulling off and parking the bike against the guardrail.Biaggi led across the stripe on lap one, Checa second then Camier. Camier briefly got in front on the run to turn one, but Checa outbraked him and took over second. Corser slotted into fourth and Rea moved up to fifth.Checa passed Biaggi halfway into lap two to lead for the first time and set the fastest lap along the way. Meanwhile Fabrizio crashed out.By the end of lap three Checa and Biaggi were pulling a slight gap, though Camier was anxious to stay with them. Corser was coming under pressure from Rea, with Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow on the move.The third lap ended with Biaggi lowering the fastest lap mark, still second, while early in the lap Rea crashed in turn one.Checa led again across the stripe from Biaggi, who was losing ground but pulling away from Camier. Corser now had Haga and Haslam on his tail, then a gap to Xaus, Toseland and Scassa.On the sixth lap Haslam took both Corser and Haga and moved from sixth to fourth. Haga got Corser as well.Checa led across the stripe ending lap six, he and Biaggi now two seconds clear of Camier, who had more than a second on Haslam, Haga and Corser. Once in front of the veterans, Haslam pulled clear and set out for Camier.By now Toseland had won the fight for seventh and was leaving Scassa and Xaus behind.Biaggi took .45 secs. out of Checa’s lead on the seventh lap as they continued to pull clear of Camier; the gap was nearly four secs. Haslam was now only a second out of third, while Haga separated from Corser.When lap eight ended Biaggi was half a second back of Checa, though he closed up in turn one, and Camier found himself holding off Haslam and Haga, while Corser fell into a comfortable sixth in front of Toseland.Biaggi clearly had the edge in top speed. His front straight speed on the tenth lap was 310 kph/192.634 mph to 295 kph/183.313 for Checa.At the midpoint in the 21-lap race Checa was being chased by Biaggi, while over six secs. back Camier was fending off Haslam and Haga. Corser was alone with Toseland three secs. back and ahead of Scassa and Xaus, the latter two at one second intervals.Checa pulled his biggest lead of the day ending the 14th lap when he crossed the line 1.154 secs. in front of Biaggi. And on the next lap Checa nearly doubled the lead to 2.231 secs.The trio behind stayed tightly bunched, with Corser running alone and Toseland under fire from Scassa. Xaus was falling backwards into a three-rider fight for ninth.Haslam made his move on Camier on lap 16 late in the three-corner segment known as the “Attitudes.” Once clear, he was able to pull some breathing room and try to make up time on Biaggi, his nearest championship rival.With five laps to run Checa had nearly three secs. on Biaggi, with Haslam now eight seconds adrift and edging away from Camier, while Haga pressed from fifth place. Corser was solid in sixth, then Scassa in front of Toseland and Guintoli now up to ninth in front of Xaus, who had Byrne and Crutchlow chasing him.Camier lost fourth to Haga when he ran wide in a right hander on lap 19.The race ended dramatically for Checa. On the 19th lap he coasted to a stop at the bottom of the “Attitudes,” handing the lead to Biaggi.Biaggi crossed the line with an eight second lead and two laps to go. Haslam was two up on Haga, while Camier was still a close fourth. Corser owned fifth, but sixth was constantly changing hands. Scassa led Byrne and Toseland, with Guintoli now ninth and Xaus alone in tenth.


1.Max Biaggi (Aprilia)

2. Leon Haslam (Suzuki)

3. Nori Haga (Ducati)

4. Leon Camier (Aprilia)

5. Troy Corser (BMW)

6. Shane Byrne (Ducati)

7. Luca Scassa (Ducati)

8. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)

9. James Toseland (Yamaha)

10. Ruben Xaus (BMW)


16. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.