This is the end of the world as we know it. . .

SBK Magny Cours, france, 3rd october 2010

Words: Laura Bradley, Pics: Simon bradley and Richard Handley

Magny Cours is infamous for the nail-biting last race where you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to see who’s champion for this year. The racing is always tight as the circuit is fast and flowing, also making it popular with the riders, crowd and the photographers.
However, we already know who the champion is, and who’s second...so this weekend was the turn for third place in the championship to be the one that everybody’s looking out for.

The two free practices were warm and dry, but still involved the crashes that the wet weather would bring. In the first session alone there were three crashes from Lanzi, Xaus and Lai and Haga managed to crash twice in the second session. Smrz ran off track and Lai also crashed again. Luckily, no riders were hurt and they could all go into qualifying
Qualifying was equally eventful, Crutchlow crashed in the first session but still managed to re-join and set a brilliant time in fifth. Haga finished off a bad day by crashing once again and Toseland also joined those who didn’t finish the session. Hayden also crashed out. Nevertheless, the second qualifying session went without a hitch and everybody managed to stay on their bikes with Guintoli qualifying in first, not that it counts towards superpole anymore.

So, Superpole had, as usual, twenty riders entering into it. Guintoli, Fabrizio, Biaggi, Scassa, Haslam, Smrz, Lanzi, Xaus, Corser, Crutchlow, Byrne, Sykes, Rea, Checa, Toseland, Haga, Neukirchner, Lowry, Lai and Baiocco.
The first superpole ended with Biaggi having done the fastest lap with a one minute thirty-eight. Neukirchner, Lowry, Baiocco and Lai didn’t qualify for superpole two.
Superpole two was the same as the first session, nobody fell off and Biaggi was still fastest with a one minute thirty-seven with Corser, Haslam, Xaus, Sykes, Lanzi, Byrne, Toseland and Scassa not qualifying for the final session.
So that left eight to battle it for that all important pole position, and Crutchlow managed to grab it with a one thirty-seven, six hundredth of a second in front of Guintoli, who took second on the grid despite having a technical problem at the end of the session. He was followed by Smrz and Biaggi, making up the first row. Fabrizio started off the second row followed by Rea, who did a spectacular job despite his injuries, Checa and Haga.

Race one started with Biaggi taking the lead from the first corner but Crutchlow was fast on his tail and overtook him. Biaggi overtook Crutchlow straight back and Guintoli did the same, leaving Crutchlow in third place to battle with Fabrizio, who then overtook him and went on to overtake Guintoli in lap two. Crutchlow started to look over Guintoli and soon overtook him and Fabrizio, after he ran wide. Guintoli also overtook Fabrizio but lost third place again shortly afterwards.
The first disaster then struck as Toseland had a really horrible crash, rocketing straight into the walls and going through them. Luckily he got up and remained unscathed, but he nonetheless retired from the race.
Guintoli soon overtook Fabrizio again to go back into third place whilst Troy Corser also had to retire from the race due to technical problems.
Crutchlow soon overtook Biaggi, and despite the Championship winner’s efforts to take first back, the future Moto GP star managed to keep it and started to pull into the distance. Guintoli then started to have a look in on Biaggi but was blocked on the first attempt and ran wide on the second attempt, allowing Fabrizio to also overtake him. Guintoli then made another mistake which caused him to cut the corner and let Checa overtake him. This also cost him a ride through penalty, which is something that you don’t want to get in front of your home crowd. So he ignored it. So, whilst Haslam started battling his way to the front and overtook Fabrizio on lap sixteen, Guintoli was getting a black flag. Which he ignored. This later led to a fine of one thousand euros.
Checa went on to overtake Biaggi, as did Haslam but Biaggi took him straight back rather vigorously, causing him to lose another place to Guintoli.
Haslam, however, was not done with Biaggi, as whilst the Italian tried to overtake Checa, Haslam crept up on him and overtook him once Biaggi was cut off from his efforts on Checa.
Nonetheless, Biaggi did prove that the phrase ‘if at first you don’t succeed then try and try again’ is worthwhile, as on lap twenty-one he managed to overtake Checa and keep the position. Leon Haslam kept working his way up the grid, and he soon overtook Checa and, on the last corner, overtook Biaggi to finish in second place. This left the end results as Crutchlow, Haslam, Checa, Biaggi, Smrz, Fabrizio, Haga, Sykes, Byrne and Scassa.

Race two started exactly the same way as race one did. Biaggi took the lead, shortly followed by Crutchlow and Guintoli. Guintoli soon overtook Crutchlow, as did Fabrizio, and Guintoli then went on to overtake Biaggi into first place. Haga then popped out of nowhere and overtook both Crutchlow and Fabrizio, which led to some of the best racing we have seen all season between the two factory ducatis on their last race together.
Fabrizio overtook Haga, Haga then barged him out of the way to take him straight back, but Fabrizio then barged Haga straight back and overtook him again. They then carried on battling, and Crutchlow just went around the outside of both of them. Haga then overtook Fabrizio once again, and Fabrizio took him straight back again.
Meanwhile, at the top of the pack, Guintoli had to battle Biaggi off, causing him to have a moment and almost fall off himself. Luckily he kept it and the positions stayed the same.
Then disaster struck again, as Toseland once again put an end to his race and his championship by crashing, which was devastating to watch, as he then stood up and just bowed his head. Hopefully things look up for him next season. Corser also put an end to his championship season by having to pit in again.   
On lap nine Biaggi managed to overtake Guintoli and kept it. Crutchlow also managed to overtake Guintoli and start chasing Biaggi on lap fourteen. Fabrizio also managed to overtake Guintoli on lap sixteen.
It also all ended for Lanzi on lap eighteen, as he crashed and also had to retire from the race.
Crutchlow rapidly caught up with Biaggi and kept making attempts to overtake him, which kept getting blocked. Guintoli managed to overtake Fabrizio, but Fabrizio took it back on the last lap leaving the end results as Biaggi, Crutchlow, Fabrizio, Guintoli, Haga, Smrz, Scassa, Byrne, Checa and Sykes.


It seems traditional to have an Aprilia here this season, so here, for a change, is Leon Camier celebrating a couple of really strong rides...Race One

1 Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
2 Leon Haslam (Suzuki)
3 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
4 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
5 Jakub Smrz (Aprilia)
6 Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
7 Nori Haga (Ducati)
8 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
9 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
10 Luca Scassa (Ducati)

Race Two

1 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2 Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
3 Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
4 Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
5 Nori Haga (Ducati)
6 Jakub Smrz (Aprilia)
7 Luca Scassa (Ducati)
8 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
9 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
10 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

Championship Standing after ten rounds:

1 Max Biaggi 451 World Superbikes Champion 2010
2 Leon Haslam 376
3 Carlos Checa 297
4 Jonathan Rea 292
5 Cal Crutchlow 284
6 Nori Haga 258
7 Sylvain Guintoli 197
8 Michel Fabrizio 195
9 James Toseland 187
10 Shane Byrne 169



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