Max Biaggi enters the penultimate round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship at Imola with a 58-point lead over Leon Haslam. But with four races remaining between Imola and the final meeting in Magny Cours, Haslam aboard his Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 is the only one able to catch Biaggi’s Alitalia Aprilia RSV4.
But it won’t be easy for Haslam, especially since the Brit had some mishaps at Nurburgring; he sustained a right thumb and left knee injury in Germany, where he finished 6-3. Also, if Biaggi manages to finish ahead of Haslam in both races in Italy, he’ll quench the championship.
Biaggi, who has nine race wins this season, already swept the two other races in his native Italy, winning Monza and Misano. If the 39-year old earns the 2010 WSBK title, it’ll be his first, and also the first time an Italian received a WSBK title and the first time for Aprilia.
World Superbike says there has only ever been one non-native English speaker earn a WSBK title, France’s Raymond Roche (1990). Since the World Superbike Championship inception, every champion has either been Australian, British or American.
Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea currently sits alone in third with 288 points, and arrives in Italy with six consecutive podiums, including a win each at Brno and Germany.
Sitting in fourth with 224 points is Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa, who had a podium finish in Germany, but also a DNF.
Only seven points behind Checa is Sterilgarda Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. The Brit will be looking to move up a few spots and finish his debut World Superbike season off in style, considering he’s moving next year to Ben Spies current spot on the MotoGP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team.
At last year’s round at the 3.081-mile, 17-turn circuit, the Xerox Ducati Team swept both races, the first by Noriyuki Haga and the second by Michele Fabrizio. Both riders are without a ride for 2011, as Ducati decided to pull all factory efforts out of the World Superbike Championship.
The races will broadcast on SPEED TV at 4 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26,
World Superbike Points (after 11 of 13 rounds):
1. Biaggi 397
2. Haslam 339
3. Rea 288
4. Checa 224
5. Crutchlow 217
6. Haga 202
7. Toseland 187
8. Guintoli 69
9. Camier 164
10. Fabrizio 160
1. Aprilia 409
2. Suzuki 360
3. Ducati 342
6. BMW 190
7. Kawasaki 77