Biaggi’s Title, Checa’s Day

Gordon Ritchie | September 26, 2010

Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi won the 2010 World Superbike championship, his first world title since winning the 250cc GP crown in 1997, with a fifth place finish in the second race in Imola, Italy.Althea Racing Ducati’s Carlos Checa swept both races of a World Superbike Sunday for the first time since his double play at Miller Motorsports Park in June of 2008, but it was the 39-year-old Roman, and the Aprilia factory, that had the most to celebrate.Biaggi entered the race with a commanding lead, but lost points to title rival Leon Haslam in the first race. Haslam finished fifth to Biaggi’s 11th. The race ended with Biaggi 52 points in front. Haslam retired from the second race halfway in, while Biaggi finished fifth, giving him an insurmountable 63 point lead going into the final round of the series at Magny-Cours, France next weekend.Biaggi moved to World Superbike in 2007 after sitting out a year following his withdrawal from the MotoGP World Championship at the end of 2005. He rode for Suzuki the first year, then switched to Ducati in 2008 and 2009. This year he was on the Aprilia RSV4, which has proven the class of the field. In the 24 races held to date, Biaggi has nine wins, two seconds, and two thirds.”This is a grand day, Biaggi began, “a day which I have greatly desired. I’ve often felt in past years like I hadn’t been placed in the proper conditions to be able to express my worth and to achieve the results that I know I deserve. This is one of the reasons that, at a certain point in my career, I chose this world, the SBK championship, and this is why I wanted to surround myself with the right people for this adventure – because racing isn’t just about speed, tyres and an engine. It is also about joy and having fun and with these guys, with this team, I feel at home. I want to thank everyone: my team, Aprilia, Piaggio Group, the chairman.”It has not been an easy season. Many riders have won races and if they had been just a bit more consistent, they would have been able to be more troublesome for us. The greatest moments were the double victories at Monza and Misano. It is something very special to win in front of my fans. But it isn’t over yet – there is still one goal left – to ride my RSV4 to the manufacturer title. We’ll talk again in a week and it would be truly fantastic to close out this wonderful season with another championship.”Biaggi becomes only the second non-native English-speaking world champion in the series’ 23-year history. The other was Frenchman Raymond Roche in 1990.The championship is Aprilia’s first in World Superbike and Biaggi’s fourth on an Aprilia. Three of his four 250cc world titles were on Aprilia RS250’s.Aprilia is the fourth manufacturer in the last four years to win the riders championship. Ben Spies won on a Yamaha last year, Troy Bayliss on a Ducati in 2008, and James Toseland on a Honda in 2007.Checa didn’t have as much to celebrate as Biaggi, but he had reason to be happy. The Spaniard added a win in race two to his earlier race one win. The second race win was less dramatic, with Checa pulling out a lead of over four seconds, then managing it to the end. Ducati Xerox’s Nori Haga was second in race two, followed by Yamaha Sterilgarda’s Cal Crutchlow.Checa’s race one win was his first since the second race of the opening round at Phillip Island. DFX Corse’s Lorenzo Lanzi was second, followed by Haga.Pole-sitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) had sped into the lead of the first race and held it until the the ninth of 21 laps when Lanzi made a pass to the front. By then Checa, who’d finished the first lap in eighth, had made his way to third, then second on lap 12 and into the lead on the 16th lap.Over the final five laps he controlled the race, while Haga, who’d started worse than Checa-he was tenth on lap two, joined the battle behind Haslam, the early second place rider. Haslam was set to finish second until he made a mistake while going for a lead on the final lap and dropped to fifth.Haslam’s gaffe put Lanzi in second with Haga a close third. Jakub Smrz finished fourth then Haslam.Sykes again led race two, but this time Checa got to the front with more urgency. He was in the lead by the sixth lap and quickly pulled away. By the tenth lap his lead was nearly 4.5 secs. en route to a 2.129 secs. margin of victory.Sykes briefly ceded second to Biaggi on lap eight, before taking it back. But when Haga challenged on lap 13, he had no answer and the Japanese rider held on for second. Crutchlow passed his fellow Brit on the 18th lap to take the final podium spot. Sykes was fourth, Biaggi fifth.Race One:

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)

2. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)

3. Nori Haga (Ducati)

4. Jakub Smrz (Aprilia)

5. Leon Haslam (Suzuki)

6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

7. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)

8. Shane Byrne (Ducati)

9. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)

10. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)

Race Two:1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)

2. Nori Haga (Ducati)

3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)

4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

5. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)

6. Shane Byrne (Ducati)

7. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)

8. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)

9. Ruben Xaus (BMW)

10. Luca Scassa (Ducati)

Gordon Ritchie | World Superbike Editor

You may not understand Ritchie and his Scottish accent if you had him on the phone, but you can definitely understand what he writes as our World Superbike editor.