Ducati dominates at Kyalami

18 May 2009

The roar of potent engines reverberated around Kyalami on Sunday as the circuit hosted the sixth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship. It proved to be a fantastic day for the Xerox Ducati team.

It was the first time in seven years that South Africa had hosted a round of the championship, and it proved a popular drawcard, pulling in 53 000 spectators.

Japanese star Noriyuki Haga, the championship leader heading into round six, extended his lead at the top by winning both races on Sunday. He entered race one unsure of how his Ducati would perform after a scratchy showing in qualifying.

Commanding form

However, on race day Haga was in commanding form, dominating the opening race. It was his fifth victory of the season.

“On Friday and Saturday we had quite a big problem,” said Haga. “But we tried to fix the suspension and couldn’t find a solution.

“This morning we found a little better feeling but it was not perfect. My feeling was that it would be difficult to win, but in the end I am very satisfied with the victory.”

Haga’s Xerox Ducati team-mate Michel Fabrizio battled Yamaha’s Ben Spies for second. A slight mistake by the American saw Fabrizio edge ahead and take second.

Second place scrap

“It is a pity that the fight with Ben was for second place and not for first,” commented Fabrizio. “Ben and I for sure lost out to Nori, because when you pass each other a few times you lose a lot of time. When Nori passed me, I lost a bit of confidence in the front so I had to settle for second place.

After a tight scrap, Honda’s Jonathan Rea edged out Aprilia’s Max Biaggi for fourth.

Further down the field, reigning South African Superbike champion Sheridan Morais, riding for the Kawasaki World Superbike Team because of an injury to team regular Makoto Tamada, finished thirteenth.

Race two

Race two was dominated by Haga once again as he led all but one of the 24 laps. He was challenged by his team-mate Fabrizio, who managed to pass the Japanese ace twice on the final lap.

Haga, however, held his nerve and managed to accelerate past the Italian out of corners on both occasions as Fabrizio used very late breaking and a wide line to get past him. With the double at Kyalami, Haga took his number of wins for the season up to six.

Yamaha’s Spies was in the early running, but on lap three he was forced into the pits with a gear shift problem. The American’s misfortune was good news for Honda’s James Rea, who raced through to take third place.

Leon Haslam, also on a Honda, battled Rea for third, but had to eventually settle for fourth, while Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi again finished fifth.

South Africa’s Morais finished eleventh and, as he was in the first race, was the leading Kawasaki rider.

‘Enjoyed battling with Michel’

Haga, reflecting on his success afterwards, said: “We get some good points this weekend and I really enjoyed battling with Michel in the second race. We changed a little bit the setting from the first race and that feeling was a bit better, but at some point it got worse.

On the last lap I saw Michel do harder braking than me, and of course I took the wrong line, but I was able to open the gas and get to the line first.”

Haga’s two wins lifted him up to 250 points in the standings, while Fabrizio, after the retirement of Spies, moved into second place on 165. Spies, despite his retirement in race two, is only three points behind the Italian.

Fabrizio remarked: “Maybe I did the wrong thing by telling Nori where I was strong in race one because he pushed harder than me in that sector. On the last lap, if he hadn’t been my team-mate I would have given him a push with the shoulder! But I’m happy, I’m second in the championship and that’s a good thing.”

WORLD SUPERBIKE KYALAMI
Race 1 results

      1. Noriyuki Haga, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Michel Fabrizio, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Ben Spies, Yamaha YZF-R1

 

      1. Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Max Biaggi, Aprilia RSV4

 

      1. Carlos Checa, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Shinya Nakano, Aprilia RSV4

 

      1. Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki GSX-R1000

 

      1. Shane Byrne, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Tom Sykes, Yamaha YZF-R1

 

      1. Gregorio Lavilla, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Ryuichi Kiyonari, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Sheridan Morais, Kawasaki ZX-10R

 

      1. Jakub Smrz, Ducati 1098R

 

    1. Broc Parkes, Kawasaki ZX-10R

Race 2 results

      1. Noriyuki Haga, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Michel Fabrizio, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Leon Haslam, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Max Biaggi, Aprilia RSV4

 

      1. Carlos Checa, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Shinya Nakano, Aprilia RSV4

 

      1. Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki GSX-R1000

 

      1. Tom Sykes, Yamaha YZF-R1

 

      1. Jakub Smrz, Ducati 1098R

 

      1. Sheridan Morais, Kawasaki ZX-10R

 

      1. Gregorio Lavilla, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Ryuichi Kiyonari, Honda CBR1000RR

 

      1. Broc Parkes, Kawasaki ZX-10R

 

    1. Fonsi Nieto, Suzuki GSX-R1000

POINTS
(After six of 14 rounds)

Riders

      1. Haga 250

 

      1. Fabrizio 165

 

      1. Spies 162

 

      1. Haslam 116

 

      1. Rea 106

 

      1. Biaggi 103

 

      1. Sykes 103

 

      1. Laconi 77

 

      1. Neukirchner 75

 

    1. Checa 73

Manufacturers

      1. Ducati 275

 

      1. Yamaha 203

 

      1. Honda 170

 

      1. Aprilia 106

 

      1. Suzuki 105

 

      1. BMW 59

 

    1. Kawasaki 27

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material