Race 1 of the SBK round at Assen has arrived. It’s hot and the sky is cloudy, but the weather forecast ruled out rain. The thick crowds of spectators in the stands at this historic Dutch track were able to watch an exciting race that proved to be a struggle to the very end, as never before seen. Spies started off well from the pole position with Neukirchner, Haga and Haslam right behind him. After six laps, the German driver of the Suzuki had a fall and three were then left to battle it out for the victory, with none of the drivers managing to break away. During the twelfth lap, Haga attacked Spies and took over the lead, and then during the following lap the U.S. driver was then also passed by Haslam. The three continued to fight it out, but without causing too much trouble to one another. During the final two laps, Spies began to create his masterpiece, first passing Haslam by working his way into what seemed to be an impossible space, almost making contact with his English rival, then during the final “S” he came up with an incredible pass that left Haga behind, allowing Spies to cross the finish line in first place with an advantage of 0:154 over the Japanese driver and 0:799 over Haslam on his Honda. Biaggi started off well from tenth position, but after just a few laps he ended up stuck in the middle of the pack, and finished the first lap in ninth position. Max began to push forward by battling it out with Smrz, Fabrizio and Rea. By the sixth lap, he had managed to free himself from the Czech driver who was slower, but difficult to pass and during the tenth lap he also passed Fabrizio, moving into fifth position and setting off to catch up with Sykes with a pace that was a bit faster than during the first laps. However, the attempt failed and Max ended the race at 2:500 from fourth position. A fall ruined Nakano’s race after the Japanese driver had started off well and kept up at a decent pace in order to not compromise his precarious physical condition, holding steady in fifteenth position. During the fourteenth lap, Shinya ran into a slide that forced him out of the race, but did not result in any physical injuries.
It didn’t go too badly,” declared Biaggi. “It was a very difficult race. I started off a bit late, so I found myself stuck behind the slower drivers and it wasn’t easy to pass them. Then I managed to get a good rhythm going, but fourth position was just too far away.”
SBK, RACE 2: BIAGGI PULLS OUT, NAKANO DECIDES NOT TO RACE
The sun came out and it was hot in Assen for Race 2 of the SBK competition. The crowds in the stands at the Dutch circuit accompanied their favourite drivers with roaring cheers each time they passed by. And it was Haga on his Ducati Factory who won today’s second race with an advantage of 2:678 over Haslam on his Honda and 4:603 over Smrz who drove the Guandalini team’s Ducati.
The race was less exciting than the previous one with regard to the battle for first place. Spies started off ahead of everyone else, followed by Haga who fell during the following lap and gave the Japanese driver the chance to set an impressive pace for the rest of the race; after just a few laps he had gained more than five seconds’ advantage which he managed to hold onto until he reached the chequered flag. The struggle for the other steps on the podium was livelier, with Fabrizio, Haslam, Smrz and Rea fighting it out. In the end, Haslam was able to break away after having moved ahead of his adversaries halfway through the race, improving upon his third place finish in Race 1; the third step on the podium went to Smrz, who got the best of Fabrizio, betrayed by his shifting during the final lap.
Instead, Max Biaggi didn’t last long, he burned out the clutch on his RSV4 and was forced to re-enter the pit and pull out of the race before he even managed to complete the first lap.
Nakano did not show up for the race, preferring not to run any risks, given his precarious physical condition.
"I’m very sorry,” declared Biaggi, “but these technical stops are the kinds of things that are foreseen at the beginning of the season. I wasn’t expecting it, but it can happen, the bike is young and is still in its development stage. We’re working every day to improve more and more. I did well in Race 1 and I managed to recover several positions. This made me hopeful for the second race, which instead ended as soon as it began. Now, we must not be discouraged and immediately look ahead to Monza, where I hope to have a great race.”
“I started off well in Race 1,” said Nakano. “Then after five laps my shoulder started to hurt, it became difficult to control the bike and halfway through the race, at the third curve I lost control at the front and fell. This weekend’s results were not good, but I’m happy because I managed to get back on the bike and put my health to the test. I chose to not take part in Race 2, it was too risky for me and I wanted to avoid doing damage to the bike for no reason. In Monza, I shouldn’t have any more problems; I’m very excited because it’s a historic track and I’ve never raced there before.”
SUPERPOLE: BIAGGI FINISHES IN TENTH PLACE, NINETEETH FOR NAKANO
Assen, 25 April 2009
The good weather continued to hold at the track in Assen, where today’s Superpole in the Dutch round of the Superbike competition took place. The discreet equilibrium found in the practice laps made the new formula even more exciting, in which the strategy of using qualifying tyres is often decisive. This was the fourth consecutive Superpole win for Ben Spies on his Yamaha Factory with a time of 1:37:279, a new record for the circuit. Max Biaggi will start off from tenth position tomorrow as a result of his tenth place finish in today’s race with a time of 1:38:441. The Roman rider battled it out to the end to qualify for the Superpole 3, using qualifying tyres during the first two stages. Shinya Nakano, who is back on the track after sustaining injuries in Valencia, will start off from the nineteenth position. The Japanese rider did not manage to take advantage of the qualifying tyres due to a mistake he made during Superpole 1.
"It was certainly a better day with respect to yesterday,” declared Biaggi. “However, this is still a tough track for us, and we suffer a lot here. We tried to resolve our problems by working on the alignment, but obviously the situation could not be changed radically. The Superpole could have gone slightly better; in the best case scenario I would have managed to qualify for the final eight, but the first row was too far away. Tomorrow will be tough, it will require determination, keeping hope alive and giving it my all, like always.”
“I am very disappointed,” said Nakano, “because during the Superpole 1 I made a lot of mistakes with the qualifying tyres and I didn’t manage to qualify for the following stages. My physical condition is a bit worse with respect to yesterday and I’m in more pain, but its tolerable. A good start will be the key to a good race tomorrow.”