Doha, 14 March, 2009
SBK, RACE 2: BIAGGI ATOP THE PODIUM AGAIN, NAKANO IN SEVENTH PLACE
Race 2 at Losail for the Qatar SBK round was extremely fast, with Haga and Spies beating the track race record and the American taking the victory with a time of 1:59:041. The drivers on the podium were the same as in Race 1 with Spies, followed by Haga and Biaggi once again.
Biaggi’s second start was like a rocket being launched, allowing him to take control, followed by Ducati’s Japanese driver, the American on his Yamaha and Nakano himself who, after making contact with one of his competitors, however, fell back a few positions. Haga passed to the lead at the end of the first lap and the three drivers distanced themselves, with only Kiyonari attempting to catch up to them. Spies took the lead during the fifth lap and began to set a maniacal pace, separating himself from the others. Biaggi tried to stay with him, along with Haga and Kiyonari, but there was nothing that could be done. A hard fought battle began for second place between the Italian and the Ducati driver with Max giving it his all during the final lap, but in the end he was forced to settle once again for the third step on the podium.
In the meantime, after making contact in the initial laps, Nakano recovered and moved up to sixth position. Towards mid-race, Neukirchner on his Suzuki caught up with him and they began passing each other up until the last few metres of the race when the German managed to take the lead by just a few centimetres in the final sprint.
"It was a great race,” declared Biaggi. “I climbed onto the podium once again, thereby confirming our potential on this track, which is a bit special for me. Haga and Spies were extremely fast, they are the best right now and I am happy to always be there battling it out with them. The race was difficult. Towards the end I had lost a bit of grip and I could feel the pressure of Kiyonari. Now we’re looking ahead to Valencia and we are confident that we will do well. I would like to thank my team once again, I feel at home with them, it is like a big family, we do everything with a lot of enthusiasm, putting all our effort into it and everyone always does their best.”
“I started off well, but after a few laps, I made contact with another driver and lost ground,” said Nakano. “So I had to push it to the maximum to try ad recover. I managed to get back up to sixth position, but I was alone and I couldn’t keep a steady pace. Five laps from the end of the race, Neukirchner caught up to me and passed me and it was there that we began to battle it out up to the finish line, where I was left in his slipstream, by just a few centimetres though. In any case, it was an excellent weekend. We improved a great deal with respect to Phillip Island and Biaggi showed everyone the RSV4’s potential. Valencia is next, and it’s a track that I am familiar with. It’s also where I rode an Aprilia for the first time, even though that won’t put me at an advantage since the bike is a lot different now.”
Doha, 14 March, 2009
SBK, RACE 1: BIAGGI CLIMBS THE PODIUM IN THIRD PLACE, NAKANO IN FOURTH
Race 1 of the SBK Qatar round was blessed by excellent weather conditions, even though it was hotter than previous days when practice rounds were held, and fortunately the threat of sandstorms was averted.
Max Biaggi started off extremely well from third position and immediately began to lead the race with his commanding pace. During the initial laps, only Haga, Nakano, Spies and Smrz managed to keep up with him, and by the fourth lap both his Japanese teammate and the Czech driver had lost ground. For more than half the race, the pace continued according to the following script: Biaggi setting the pace, Haga, struggling to pass him, even along the straightaways, and Spies in control. Nakano was left behind, alone in fourth place, in part due to Smrz’s fall during the sixth lap. Spies took the lead in the twelfth lap, taking advantage of a small error made by the two drivers that were ahead of him and he began to force the pace, allowing him to claim his second victory of the season. Then the Biaggi-Haga duel for second place began, with the two drivers trying to pass each other, breaking away and taking advantage of the wake on the straightaways. In the end, the Japanese driver won out, while Biaggi had to settle for the third step on the podium. Thanks to the Roman driver, Aprilia once again climbs atop the Superbike podium after more than six years, with the last win secured by Haga with the twin cylinder RSV Mille on 8 September, 2002 in Race 1 at Assen.
During the final three laps, Nakano battled against Checa’s Honda and after a series of passes with the Spaniard, he managed to defend his fourth place position.
"I’m very happy not only to be climbing atop the podium,” stated Biaggi, “but also for the awareness that I am constantly fighting for the top positions. It was a difficult race, my adversaries were glued to me and it wasn’t easy to keep the right pace and the proper concentration with all of that pressure. I am very happy with this package because it is already very competitive, I have established a good feeling with the bike and it is for this reason that I must thank my team for the very hard and important work they are doing. I am happy to be on the podium not only for myself, but also for everyone who is involved with and believes in this project.”
“I’m satisfied.” said Nakano, “This is only my second race and I’ve already managed to achieve a good result. I started off well and stayed with the lead group for half of the race, they broke away from me and I set my pace while trying to stay concentrated on defending my position. It was only during the final laps that Checa caught up with me and passed me, then he made a mistake and I managed to take back my fourth place position.”
Doha, 13 March, 2009
SUPERPOLE: BIAGGI FINISHES THIRD; NAKANO IN SIXTH PLACE
The track conditions at Losail have improved considerably resulting in an extraordinary Superpole, not only for the new formula that has met with much success, but also for the drivers who managed to repeatedly break the track records that were achieved last year at Bayliss. Ben Spies on his Yahama Factory, claimed the Superpole victory once again, with a time of 1:57:280.
Max Biaggi conquered the third place position, stopping the clock at 1:57:694, just 0.414 behind the Texan. Max closed out Superpole 1 in eleventh place with a time of 1:59:272, using competition tires and was the first place finisher in Superpole 2 with a time of 1:57:836, using the first available qualification tires.
Shinya Nakano will start off from the sixth position in tomorrow’s first race, thanks to his time of 1:58:755. This time the Japanese driver managed to qualify for Superpole 3. He finished in sixteenth place during the first round with a time of 1:59:688 with competition tires. In Superpole 2 he finished fifth with a time of 1:58:534, using qualification tires.
"I’m happy,” stated Biaggi, “about the results as well has for having battled once again to conquer the pole position. We didn’t try anything new here compared to the last race and this shows that the package is improving, even though there is still much to do. I must thank my team for the fantastic job they’ve done, they’ve allowed me to compete with the best and they are truly special people. Being in the first row gives us courage, we’re all very fast and this will make tomorrow’s races even more interesting. They are still many unknown factors because we’ve never raced on this track before this round, but we’ll give it our best shot, like we always do.”
“This is my second Superbike race and I’m finishing this Superpole in sixth place, which makes me happy,” said Nakano, “even though I’m behind by more than one second in the final eight and this means that something is still missing. I’ve got to improve this aspect as well. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to set a good pace and the chattering has decreased compared to Phillip Island. Tomorrow’s race will be very difficult, I’ll have to start off well and try to stay with the group of leaders, which I can manage, and then we’ll see what happens.”