Notes from the Television Screen: WSBK @ Phillip Island

Editor’s note – While I have been sorely remiss in properly posting here at OASTD, I have begun a new series of “Notes from the Television Screen,” in which I compile my thoughts from a racing weekend. Between my Formula1Blog commitments and various life choices (hello grad school!) I cannot cover all or the majority of any two-wheeled racing series, nor attend any racing in 2011 (though I”m planning on an attempt or two). These new articles will generally cover what I can catch of the WSBK season, MotoGP, and some Grand-Am. Enjoy!

The World Superbike season got underway beneath not just the stormy clouds at Phillip Island, but under a black cloud of grief. Young Australian racer Oscar McIntyre passed after sustaining injuries during Saturday’s Australian Supersport support race just before the first Superpole of the season began. That led to Superpole’s cancellation and Tom Sykes’ third career WSBK pole. Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa, and Jakub Smrz completed the front row of starters as the organizers set the grid from the earlier qualifying practice standings.

Though Sykes led into the first turn for both races, he and his Kawasaki were entirely unable to keep the position long. The Brit drifted backward in both races but refused to do so without a fight. It is unclear whether the issue lies with tire wear or a lack of power, but both likely contribute to Kawasaki’s lack of recent wins in WSBK.

The more important story is twofold: Biaggi and Checa. In the first race, Checa soon surpassed Sykes and had set off to capture the first race of the season as reigning champion. Only Biaggi seemed capable of giving him a run for his money until the Spaniard had an impossibly violent highside that threw him out of the saddle, fifteen feet into the air, into the gravel, and out of the race. Somehow Checa sustained only bruising and was able to compete in Race 2. His Ducati was not so lucky. Continue reading

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WSBK Assen; Race 1 and 2 Results: A Good Day for Britian

What Happens When Everything Is Driven to the Race

3:26pm EST — Jonathon Rea won both World Superbike races in Assen, after fighting it out from pole with a pack of riders all chasing the win, though he won Race 1 by a second and Race 2 by nearly two seconds, it was a day of close racing.  James Toseland, the former WSBK champion, podiumed for each race, second in Race 1 and third in Race 2.  It was all-Britian, all the time on the podium for each race, with Leon Camier third in Race 1, and Leon Haslam second in Race 2.  Full results follow: Continue reading

WSBK: Philip Island Race 1 & 2, Close Racing and Closer Wins for Haslam and Checa

What Happens When Time Zones Wreak Havoc on Viewing

1:02am EST — Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa started out the World Superbike season with a win apiece at Philip Island.  Haslam barely beat Michel Fabrizo to the line in a photo finish for the first race, while Checa beat Haslam by three tenths over Haslam, with Fabrizio starting off this season’s championship hunt with a third in the second race.  For Race 1, Haslam added his first race win to this weekend’s first pole position (the starting grid can be seen here at On Any Sunday, These Days).  2009 championship runner-up Noriyuki Haga started tenth, but finished third.  The close racing that the series is known for did not disappoint, as Jonny Rea, Max Biaggi, Sylvain Guintoli, and Carlos Checa all fought for fourth position at the end. Former MotoGP riders Chris Vermeulen and James Toseland did not finish the race, as did 2009 Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow.

The final positions at the end of the first race were (courtesy of the official WSBK website):
1.  91 Haslam L.
2.  84 Fabrizio M. + .004
3.  41 Haga N. +.769
4.  65 Rea J. +10.201
5.   3 Biaggi M. +10.782
6.  50 Guintoli S. +11.079
7.   7 Checa C. +11.208
8 . 96 Smrz J. +16.522
9 . 11 Corser T. +20.291
10.  57 Lanzi L. +26.352
11.  2 Camier L. +29.775
12. 76 Neukirchner M. +30.155
13.  66 Sykes T. +31.951
14.  67 Byrne S. +31.957
15.  88 Pitt A. +55.082
16.  31 Iannuzzo V. +1:10.932
17.  15 Baiocco M. +1:11.237
18.  95 Hayden R. +1:17.357
19.  25 Brookes J.
RET  35 Crutchlow C.
RET  77 Vermeulen C.
RET  52 Toseland J.

In the second race, Checa passed Haslam for the lead and the win in the final section of the last lap, while Fabrizio finished third and Sylvain Guintoli and Haga rounded out the top five.  There was yet another scrimmage for sixth, with Rea ending the race in that position.  Again, Vermeulen did not finish in his home race, while rookie American Roger Hayden (brother to MotoGP champion Nicky) finished eighteenth in both races of his WSBK debut.

The final positions at the end of the first race were (courtesy of the official WSBK website):
1.   7 Checa C.
2.  91 Haslam L. +.307
3.  84 Fabrizio M. +.434
4.  50 Guintoli S. +.837
5.  41 Haga N. +3.453
6.  65 Rea J. +11.530
7.  11 Corser T. +12.026
8.   3 Biaggi M. +13.068
9.  35 Crutchlow C. +14.401
10.  52 Toseland J. +14.707
11.   2 Camier L. +14.743
12.  67 Byrne S. +14.851
13.  57 Lanzi L. +15.143
14.  25 Brookes J. +30.947
15.  88 Pitt A. +41.855
16.  76 Neukirchner M. +48.844
17.  31 Iannuzzo V. +1:06.866
18.  95 Hayden R. +1:07.751
RET  15 Baiocco M.
RET  66 Sykes T.
RET  77 Vermeulen C.
RET  96 Smrz J.

WSBK: Haslam on Pole as Action Begins Down Under

What Happens When the Two-Wheel Season Truly Begins

1:08am EST — In a set of qualifying sessions that had experienced riders all over the timesheets, Leon Haslam set the fastest time, 1:31.229, to start on pole for the season opening World Superbike race at Philip Island.  According to the official WSBK website, “close final competition sorted out the leading riders.”  Reigning champion Ben Spies is off to MotoGP, but runner-up Noriyuki Haga has remained, with his teammate Michel Fabrizio out-qualifying him for this first race, starting second as compared to Haga’s tenth.  The following qualifying times are courtesy of the official WSBK website:

1  91 Haslam L., Suzuki, 1:31.229
2  84 Fabrizio M., Ducati, 1:31.245
3  35 Crutchlow C., Yamaha, 1:31.642
4   7 Checa C., Ducati, 1:31.671
5  50 Guintoli S., Suzuki, 1:31.696
6  96 Smrz J., Ducati, 1:31.757
7  65 Rea J., Honda, 1:31.912
8  52 Toseland J., Yamaha, 1:32.019
9  57 Lanzi L., Ducati, 1:32.205
10  41 Haga N., Ducati, 1:32.229
11   3 Biaggi M., Aprilia, 1:32.293
12  66 Sykes T., Kawasaki, 1:32.398
13  11 Corser T., BMW, 1:32.430
14  77 Vermeulen C., Kawasaki, 1:32.561
15 111 Xaus R., BMW, 1:32.842
16   2 Camier L., Aprilia, 1:32.895
17  76 Neukirchner M., Honda, 1:32.782
18  67 Byrne S., Ducati, 1:32.823
19  88 Pitt A., BMW, 1:33.207
20 123 Resch R., BMW, 1:33.390
21  25 Brookes J., Honda, 1:33.901
22  31 Iannuzzo V., Honda, 1:34.248
23  15 Baiocco M., Kawasaki, 1:35.297
24  95 Hayden R., Kawasaki, 1:35.614

While the time difference makes for some awkward calculations, and American SPEEDtv coverage will not show the races until 3pm Sunday afternoon, the first and second race will begin at 9pm Saturday and 12:30am Saturday night/Sunday morning for those residing in the US Eastern time zone.

Imola Too “Slippery” for Friday Practice UPDATE: Weekend Racing Will Continue

What Happens When Riders Refuse to Ride

10:03am EST — According to Bike Sport News and MotoMatters, WorldSBK riders would not return to the track at Imola after a very early practice crash by Tom Sykes.  Apparently, “it was so slippery. We’re going round like it is wet. There is some sort of solution on the track and we need to find a way to wash it off,” said Johnny Rea.  Leon Haslam suggested, “It’s a nightmare, there is zero grip and you’re sliding around in a straightline. You can’t see anything on the surface but the track was cleaned all last night after a car race last weekend. It might be some sort of chemical.”  Reports indicate that Friday track time will be canceled while a solution is found to the grip problem.

UPDATE: 11:58am EST — According to Crash.net, track workers at Imola spent nearly four hours working to improve the grip at the circuit.  There will be an hour practice Friday for both World Superbike and Supersport (simultaneously), only Qualifying 2 on Saturday, to determine who will continue on to Superpole, and the rest of the weekend’s events will continue as planned.