Aprilia Race Report
In front of 77.000 people, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) won each 22-lap race at Portimao today to go second in the championship rankings, behind the rider who took two second places, Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki). The margin of victory for Biaggi was 0.200 seconds in race one, and 0.191 seconds in race two, as Max took his career win total to six.
He scored his first SBK double win today, having started the race second on the grid. Haslam now has 85 points, Biaggi 69.
Race1: Starting off from second position on the grid, the Roman champion immediately took the lead and set the pace for the rest of the race. Only Leon Haslam, on his Suzuki, was able to keep up with him. By the second lap, the two drivers had already broken away from the rest of their competitors and Haslam had even managed to move into first place during the eighth lap, trying to break away completely.
However, Biaggi would not give up and the two continued to fight it out until the bitter end. Just six laps from the end of the race, Biaggi launched his final attack by taking advantage of a moment of indecision on the part of Haslam, who refused to let go, but was ultimately left in Biaggi’s wake.
The final lap was breathtaking, with Biaggi closing off all opportunities for the Brit to attack and crossing the finish line in first place with a 0:200 lead. Rea finished third after taking advantage of a slip by an aggressive Crutchlow during the final laps.
Race 2: Jumping into the lead from the start, Biaggi was pursued by Haslam, but unlike in the first race, they were unable to break away from the rest of the crowd: Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), Carlos Checa (Ducati) and up until the point when his engine failed, Jonathan Rea (Honda) remained close behind the two leaders, making the race even more uncertain.
A mistake just four laps before the end of the race seemed to have compromised Biaggi’s run. Biaggi, in the span of a curve, found himself relegated to third place, having been passed by both Haslam and Crutchlow. The Roman’s will to win was exceptional, and he immediately regained ground over the Brit on his Yamaha and took off after Haslam, who he managed two pass just two laps before the end of the race. Resisting the Suzuki bishop’s attempt to regain the lead, Biaggi crossed the finish line in first place.
Not since 1998 has an Italian driver (Pierfrancesco Chili at Kyalami) won a dual victory on an Italian motorcycle.
"Yesterday I had already said that the bike was working a lot better compared to the Phillip Island race," stated Biaggi. "And considering last year’s results as well, I was aware of the fact that we would be able to have a good race. In the past few days, we worked very well and I was certain that I would finish in the top three. I must thank my team and all of the Aprilia technicians who work here and at Noale. I’d like to dedicate this victory to my daughter Inès Angelica and to Eleonora".
"It’s a pleasure to be back on top after the problems we had in Australia," said Biaggi. "We’ve improved with respect to last year. The pace was a bit slower in Race 2 and we were all quite close. It was really a great battle with a lot of passes and a few mistakes. I’m really very happy for this dual victory because it is truly a great outcome, both for me and my team, as well as Aprilia, which is really doing a great job."
"It is great to get my first double win in World Superbike. The feeling is great and the first double win of anybody this year so I feel confident and we are in a good rhythm. We go to Valencia next and we will ask very much of ourselves there as well. We had good speed down the straight today but if you saw how fast we could exit the last corner then you would know it was not just the engine. Our bike is fast but other bikes are also fast."
SBK Championship Point Standing (after 2 Rounds of 13)
1. Haslam 85; 2. Biaggi 69; 3. Checa 60; 4. Fabrizio 46; 5. Haga 43; 6. Rea 39; 7. Guintoli 33; 8. Camier 32; 9. Corser 29; 10. Crutchlow 25
Manufacturers standing: 1. Suzuki 85; 2. Ducati 71; 3. Aprilia 69; 4. Honda 40; 5. Yamaha 32; 6. BMW 29; 7. Kawasaki 7