Colonial invasion

SBK Donington Park, Great Britain, 28th June 2009

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

As close as it got. Lap three, Race 1. Haga trails Biaggi and SpiesDonington Park is now the only British round of the World Superbikes championship and, unlike last year when we needed flippers and armbands because it was raining so much, it stayed dry for pretty well the whole time. Though the clouds threatened and danced around quite alot, keeping the teams on their toes in case the conditions changed suddenly.

British riders, obviously, go well at Donington. But it was a joint Italian/American showing at the top of the timesheets with Fabrizio and Spies taking a couple of sessions each. Haga, Haslam and Greg Lavilla - all former British Superbike contenders - featured at the top as well, with the rest of the Brits having varied experiences. Wildcard leon Camier totally destroyed his R1 in practice, meaning that he had to ride a virtually unused machine that needed setting up and therefore ended up struggling for setup.

Superpole saw Biaggi take the first session from Spies and Checa while it was Fabrizio beating Spies and Smrz in session two. But in the third session, as the clouds gathered, went to Ben Spies. Possibly through good luck as he got out in time to avoid the worst of the rain which fell in the middle of the session. So it was Spies followed by Biaggi, Shane Byrne and Shinya Nakano. Fabrizio edged Haga into sixth place.

Race day was sunny and dry, which was nice. Race one started with Spies taking the lead from the first corner followed byBiaggi and Haga, which is the way it stayed for the rest of the race. On lap three Rea started working his way up the pack by overtaking Fabrizio and Checa to get The crowd were less than enthusiastic when Fabrizio passed Byrne. Though he did earn the place...into eighth place after Fabrizio had just taken ninth from him.  Tom Sykes crashed at Goddards on lap seven, skidding into the gravel on his side with the bike flying off in front of him, retiring him rather forcefully. Meanwhile, Pocket Rocket Leon Haslam had worked his way up to fifth place.

Whilst these battles were happening lower down the grid, Biaggi kept on Spies’ tail with Haga over two seconds behind and Shane Byrne still solidly in fourth place. John Hopkins, a newbie to World Superbikes though obviously not to international racing, was slowly making his way up the field, overtaking Checa on lap eleven and then Fabrizio on lap fourteen, but his finishing position was helped when James Ellison crashed out on lap thirteen.

The battle of the Brits started and ended rather soon afterwards when Haslam overtook Byrne on lap fifteen, moving into fourth place. That was basically all that happened until the final lap, when Corser fell off at the old hairpin and, with a nine second gap between him and Haga and getting even closer to Spies, Biaggi ran out of fuel on the Melbourne Loop. Luckily he managed to keep things going by rocking the bike from side to side, and was far enough ahead that he still made it over the line in second place with Haga fast approaching, making the end results Spies, Biaggi, Haga, Haslam, Byrne, Nakano, Rea, Hopkins, Smrz and Kiyonari.

Race two started, once again, with Spies taking the lead from the first corner followed by Biaggi, but this time Nakano managed to get himself into third place. However, this was sort lived when he had a big crash on lap two, leaving Haslam in third place and Haga in fourth.

The riders started to drop like flies from lap three, when Rea skidded off at the beginning of the start straight, losing the back out of Goddards after getting on the power a bit too hard. He got straight back on the bike and ending up in twenty-Local hero Haslam put his track knowledge to good use...eighth place after being in sixth. Smrz then crashed on the same lap. On lap four Biaggi fell off at the Melbourne hairpin, and on re-joining collided side on with another rider giving a very scary moment which luckily left both racers on their bikes. Then on lap five Haga had a very fast and a very big crash in which the bike landed on him, which resulted in him being air-lifted to hospital with a suspected broken neck.(Ed: A CT scan at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary showed that, happily, the neck injuries are actually old and not in fact a threat. Though the compound fracture of his right forearm and possible broken shoulderblade are bad enough). The crashes kept coming when, on lap six, Carlos Checa crashed and on lap seven,his brother Daviod decided to join him. The crashes then took a break for a while and Haslam started to battle Fabrizio for second place, succeeding on lap ten and keeping it. Shane Byrne then followed suit on lap eleven, leaving Fabrizio in fourth.

Byrne then went on to challenge Haslam for second place until lap twenty, when Fabrizio managed to get third back from him again. Kiyonari managed to get himself into seventh when he did a quick overtake on Ellison on lap twenty two, and the positions then stayed the same leaving the end results as Spies first followed by Haslam, Fabrizio, Byrne, Sykes, Camier, Kiyonari, Ellison, Xaus and Andrews.

We've got a break for a few weeks now, with the next round in Brno. See you there. The championship is getting tighter again, and with the possibility of Haga being on less than 100% form next round it could still end up as Spies' year...

Spies. Again. Race One

1 Ben Spies (Yamaha)
2 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
3 Nori Haga (Ducati)
4 Leon Haslam (Honda)
5 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
6 Shinya Nakano (Aprilia)
7 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
8 John Hopkins (Honda)
9 Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)

Race Two

1 Ben Spies (Yamaha)
2 Leon Haslam (Honda)
3 Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
4 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
5 Tom Sykes (Yamaha)
6 Leon Camier (Yamaha)
7 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)
8 James Ellison (Yamaha)
9 Ruben Xaus (BMW)
10 Simon Andrews (Kawasaki)

Championship Standing after nine rounds:

1 Nori Haga 308
2 Ben Spies 294
3 Michel Fabrizio 257
4 Jonathan Rea 177
5 Leon Haslam 167
6 Max Biaggi 155
7 Tom Sykes 141
8 Jakub Smrz 115
9 Carlos Checa 114
10 Shane Byrne 113




Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Motorbikestoday.