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

A Return to Racing: Grand-Am Coverage from the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and More

What Happens When the Off Season Is Truly Over

6:20pm EST — The excitement is beginning to ramp up as I sit in a hotel room just north of Daytona, watching Indian soap operas on television. The weekend of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona begins tomorrow, and I’ve got a hot pit pass in my grubby fingers. With this unofficial commencement of racing after an interminable off-season, spring seems to have sprung. Halfway around the world, World Superbikes are resting overnight after the first of three days of unofficial testing. Formula1 launches are being announced, testing begins next week, and only one seat is open (at HRT) for the 2011 driver market. Valentino Rossi spent the day on a Ducati sportbike, testing his shoulder in preparation for winter testing in Sepang soon. There’s a palpable sense of excitement, and it isn’t only because I’m not in the snows of Pennsylvania.

It has been a long time coming, but changes are afoot here at On Any Sunday, These Days, too. Obviously, nothing has been posted since the final race of the F1 season back in November. Plenty has been happening in racing, but plenty in life has too. I simply don’t have time to cover each piece of news from F1, MotoGP, WSBK, and Grand-Am the way they deserve. This is especially since I’m now the WSBK correspondent for irreverent and relevant motorcycle news site Asphalt & Rubber.

I’ll still be writing those long and detailed race reports for Formula1 (posted both here and at Formula1Blog, which still provides the best forum for fan opinion on the web) and MotoGP. I’ll be keeping up with what I can, especially regarding MotoGP, here. Any races I do attend will get lots of coverage, too.However, those days of seven new articles a day are gone. Thanks to those few who have been checking to see when I’d actually get something posted all winter. You’ll be rewarded, especially this weekend.

Right now, though, the focus is on Grand-Am and this weekend’s 24 hours of glorious racing. I’m here and ready to provide extensive coverage of one of the most prestigious sportscar races in the world. Entries for 2011 include former F1 drivers, NASCAR and IndyCar stars, and sportscar veterans. For moment-by-moment coverage from the track (the garages and pit lane) follow me on Twitter. It isn’t necessary to join Twitter: simply bookmarking the link to  my tweets and refreshing will work to keep you updated. Last year, I spent the first eight hours of the race in the Starworks garage [this link takes you to the entirety of 2010’s coverage]. We’ll see who takes me in in 2011. Welcome to roadracing in 2011!

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 Valencia Race 1 & 2: Haslam Wins, Haga Wins Red-Flagged Aggregate Race 2

What Happens When It’s a Hard Fight From the Back

1:52pm EST —

Race 1: At a warm and sunny Valencia, it was Leon Haslam who won the first race with a comfortable margin, after Carlos Checa lost the lead with a technical issue about halfway through.  Max Biaggi could not catch him up, instead fighting off James Toseland for second, while the Briton finished third.  Noriyuki Haga fought from an eleventh place start to finish fifth, just behind Troy Corser.  Pole sitter (see here for the starting grid) Cal Crutchlow finished seventh.

Race 1 Results (courtesy of the official WSBK site):
1. 91 Haslam L. Suzuki
2. 3 Biaggi M. Aprilia +1.757
3. 52 Toseland J. Yamaha +3.621
4. 11 Corser T. BMW +4.209
5. 41 Haga N. Ducati +4.378
6. 65 Rea J. Honda +9.834
7. 35 Crutchlow C. Yamaha +10.466
8. 57 Lanzi L. Ducati +16.080
9. 50 Guintoli S. Suzuki +18.382
10. 96 Smrz J. Ducati +18.589
11. 66 Sykes T. Kawasaki +22.903
12. 111 Xaus R. BMW +25.203
13. 76 Neukirchner M. Honda +25.676
14. 99 Scassa L. Ducati +26.606
15. 88 Pitt A. BMW +43.797
16. 95 Hayden R. Kawasaki +48.094
17. 15 Baiocco M. Kawasaki +48.190
18. 17 Andrews S. Kawasaki +52.863
RET 31 Iannuzzo V. Honda
RET 2 Camier L. Aprilia
RET 84 Fabrizio M. Ducati
RET 67 Byrne S. Ducati
RET 7 Checa C. Ducati
RET 123 Resch R. BMW

Race 2: An aggregate race after a L4 crash by Simon Andrews and Vittorio Iannuzzo on the front straight brought out the red flags.  He was diagnosed with fractures in his left foot and heel.  The race was decided by the combined times from the frist three laps (before the red flag) and the times posted in the second twenty-lap race.  On the re-start, it was Checa leading Rea, while Noriyuki Haga had already fought his way close to the front.  In the end, Haga beat Checa by .025 with Biaggi .0299 back from Haga for third.

Race 2 Aggregate Results (courtesy of the official WSBK site):
1. 41 Haga N. Ducati
2. 7 Checa C. Ducati +0.025
3. 3 Biaggi M. Aprilia +0.299
4. 91 Haslam L. Suzuki +10.100
5. 65 Rea J. Honda +12.811
6. 50 Guintoli S. Suzuki +13.459
7. 52 Toseland J. Yamaha +14.845
8. 67 Byrne S. Ducati +14.861
9. 35 Crutchlow C. Yamaha +15.202
10. 96 Smrz J. Ducati +18.071
11. 111 Xaus R. BMW +25.179
12. 11 Corser T. BMW +26.116
13. 57 Lanzi L. Ducati +30.189
14. 99 Scassa L. Ducati +30.387
15. 66 Sykes T. Kawasaki +35.741
16. 88 Pitt A. BMW +43.244
17. 76 Neukirchner M. Honda +43.540
18. 123 Resch R. BMW +47.145
19. 95 Hayden R. Kawasaki +48.502
20. 15 Baiocco M. Kawasaki +51.838
RET 84 Fabrizio M.
RET 2 Camier L. Aprilia
RET 17 Andrews S. Kawasaki
RET 31 Iannuzzo V. Honda

WSBK Valencia Quali: Crutchlow on Pole, Again, with Checa and Biaggi Close Behind

What Happens When It’s Better Late Than Never (or so is written each time WSBK quali is posted)

12:02am EST — Cal Crutchlow will start on pole for both World Superbike races in Valencia, with faster-for-most-of-the-session Carlos Checa next to him, and Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam completing the front row.  Continuing their poor qualifying effort, the factory Ducatis of Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga will start tenth and eleventh, respectively. American transplant and WSBK rookie Roger Hayden will start twenty-second with inferior Kawaski machinery.

Starting Grid for WSBK, Valencia Round (courtesy of official WSBK website):
1. 35 Crutchlow C., Yamaha, 1:33.615
2. 7 Checa C., Ducati, 1:33.840
3. 3 Biaggi M., Aprilia, 1:33.860
4. 91 Haslam L., Suzuki, 1:33.961
5. 11 Corser T., BMW, 1:34.059
6. 50 Guintoli S., Suzuki, 1:34.073
7. 65 Rea J., Honda, 1:34.235
8. 57 Lanzi L., Ducati, 1:34.261
9. 52 Toseland J., Yamaha, 1:33.988
10. 84 Fabrizio M., Ducati, 1:34.021
11. 41 Haga N., Ducati, 1:34.100
12. 67 Byrne S., Ducati, 1:34.246
13. 2 Camier L., Aprilia, 1:34.273
14. 96 Smrz J., Ducati, 1:34.280
15. 99 Scassa L., Ducati, 1:34.730
16. 76 Neukirchner M., Honda, 1:34.934
17. 111 Xaus R., BMW, 1:34.756
18. 66 Sykes T., Kawasaki, 1:34.894
19. 88 Pitt A., BMW, 1:36.088
20. 32 Morais S., Honda, 1:36.072
21. 15 Baiocco M., Kawasaki, 1:36.104
22. 95 Hayden R., Kawasaki, 1:36.117
23. 17 Andrews S., Kawasaki, 1:36.329
24. 31 Iannuzzo V., Honda, 1:36.524
25. 123 Resch R., BMW, 1:36.639

WSBK Portimao: Biaggi Makes It a Double, Winning Both Races

What Happens When Age Is Merely a Number

11:22am EST — Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam made both World Superbike races in Portimao Sunday a two-man show, finishing one-two in both Race 1 and Race 2 and about two tenths apart at the end of each after providing some exciting racing and trading the lead.  Both times, polesitter Cal Crutchlow could not keep the lead from the front row as second and fourth place starters Biaggi and Haslam dominated, after fighting amongst themselves in qualifying.  Haslam continues to lead the championship with 89 points, with Biaggi sixteen points behind and Checa, with 60 points, in third.

Race 1:
Johnny Rea was the last man on the podium for Race 1, as Carlos Checa held off Leon Camier for fourth.  Cal Crutchlow fell fighting with Rea for third with two laps left and finished fourteenth.  Returning and former champion James Toseland started fifteenth and finished seventh, while the Ducati duo of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio started near the back and finished eighth and eleventh, respectively.  Following race results courtesy of the official WSBK website:

1. 3 Biaggi M., Aprilia
2. 91 Haslam L.,Suzuki + 0.200
3. 65 Rea J., Honda +6.901
4. 7 Checa C., Ducati +7.457
5. 2 Camier L., Aprilia +7.564
6. 67 Byrne S., Ducati +11.420
7. 52 Toseland J., Yamaha +18.391
8. 41 Haga N., Ducati +18.536
9. 11 Corser T., BMW +24.514
10. 111 Xaus R., BMW +32.427
11. 84 Fabrizio M., Ducati +35.045
12. 57 Lanzi L., Ducati +36.816
13. 50 Guintoli S., Suzuki +36.841
14. 35 Crutchlow C., Yamaha +44.678
15. 66 Sykes T., Kawasaki +44.942
16. 31 Iannuzzo V., Honda +59.135
17. 32 Morais S., Honda +59.852
18. 95 Hayden R., Kawasaki +1:00.097
19. 15 Baiocco M., Kawasaki +1:10.151
20. 99 Scassa L.. Ducati
RET 88 Pitt A., BMW
RET 96 Smrz J., Ducati
RET 49 Tamada M., BMW
RET 76 Neukirchner M., Honda

Race 2:
Biaggi also won race 2 over Haslam, though both had company at the front for the second race, with just over one second covering the top four, rounded out by Cal Crutchlow and Carlos Checa.  Camier was another two seconds back with Toseland moving up through the pack to finish sixth.  Haga and Fabrizio again finished eighth and eleventh.  The following race results are courtesy of the official WSBK website:

1. 3 Biaggi M., Aprilia
2. 91 Haslam L., Suzuki +0.191
3. 35 Crutchlow C., +0.658
4. 7 Checa C., Ducati +1.015
5. 2 Camier L., Aprilia +3.123
6. 52 Toseland J., Yamaha +9.131
7. 67 Byrne S., Ducati +11.033
8. 41 Haga N., Ducati +13.452
9. 50 Guintoli S., Suzuki +13.964
10. 11 Corser T., BMW +16.377
11. 84 Fabrizio M., Ducati +26.351
12. 111 Xaus R., BMW +27.964
13. 66 Sykes T., Kawasaki +33.566
14. 57 Lanzi L., Ducati +33.823
15. 76 Neukirchner M., Honda +37.372
16. 99 Scassa L., Ducati +45.611
17. 95 Hayden R., Kawasaki +56.512
18. 15 Baiocco M., Kawasaki +58.980
19. 49 Tamada M., BMW +1:15.819
20. 88 Pitt A., BMW +1:41.672
RET 32 Morais S., Honda
RET 96 Smrz J., Ducati
RET 65 Rea J., Honda
RET 31 Iannuzzo V., Honda

WSBK: Portimao Starting Grid, With a Very Varied Front Row

What Happens When It’s a Mish-Mash

1:43pm EST — With four different manufactures supplying the bikes that qualified on the front row, the second round of WSBK in Portimao looks to be another day of great racing.  Cal Crutchlow took pole, with Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa fighting closely over the second starting position.  Current championship leader Leon Haslam will finish off the front row.  In a surprising turn of events, last season’s championship runner-ups, Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga only qualified seventeenth and eighteenth, respectively.  Because qualifying is done in three knockout rounds similar to Formula1, some times further back in the grid will actually be faster than those ahead.  Results of qualifying and the provisional starting grid for Sunday’s races, courtesy of the official WSBK website:

1. 35 Crutchlow C. 1:42.092
2. 3 Biaggi M. 1:42.513
3. 7 Checa C. 1:42.586
4. 91 Haslam L. 1:42.596
5. 65 Rea J. 1:42.807
6. 96 Smrz J. 1:42.889
7. 67 Byrne S. 1:42.960
8. 11 Corser T. 1:43.152
9. 50 Guintoli S. 1:42.984
10. 111 Xaus R. 1:42.999
11. 2 Camier L. 1:43.039
12. 66 Sykes T. 1:43.199
13. 76 Neukirchner M. 1:43.380
14. 57 Lanzi L. 1:43.568
15. 52 Toseland J. 1:49.401
16. 99 Scassa L. 1:44.249
17. 84 Fabrizio M. 1:43.564
18. 41 Haga N. 1:43.686
19. 88 Pitt A. 1:43.781
20. 49 Tamada M. 1:45.142
21. 32 Morais S. 1:45.520
22. 15 Baiocco M. 1:45.610
23. 31 Iannuzzo V. 1:45.795
24. 95 Hayden R. 1:45.799