Published on 29 May 2012 by Toni M.
What a championship this year’s World Superbikes is turning into. After six rounds - and what a cracker Race 2 at Miller turned out to be - we’ve got Max Biaggi leading in the standings with 160.5 points and only one race win so far and by far the most consistent rider out on track with his five podiums.
Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes stand on equal points in second - 140.5 and 18 points from the Roman Emperor, with Melandri’s second victory also giving BMW the second place in the manufacturers standings and the German manufacturer is swooning and wondering why they did hire Andrea Dosoli much sooner.
The next round will be at Misano Adriatico in two weeks time, and here’s what the riders had to say after the Utah races along with highlight videos.
Carlos Checa (1st and DNF)
“Race 1 - a great result, a great race, a great moment! I’ve always had a great relationship with this track and to win here again is just fantastic, especially after some difficult recent rounds. The race wasn’t an easy one and Melandri pushed right until the end, I couldn’t relax for a second! But I was feeling confident with the tyre that we had chosen and was able to make a great race. I had to work hard through the corners as we seemed to be losing a lot on the straights but I am very happy with the result, and happy for the entire team that has worked so hard this weekend. In this second race I was pushing, I was feeling confident with the setting but clearly I pushed a bit too hard and lost the front. I went back on track but there was nothing I could do, I’d lost too much ground.”
Marco Melandri (2nd and 1st)
“It is amazing. My team and BMW did an awesome job. Here in Miller it was my worst weekend last year, and it was the worst for BMW, too. So going home with two podiums, a win and a second place, is like a dream. In race one, I was pushing like in qualifying from the first lap until the end. The tyre was working very well until the end. Yesterday we were struggling a bit too much, but today fortunately the weather was better for us. And I was feeling even more comfortable on the bike with less fuel in the tank. I tried to make the life not easy to Carlos, but in some corners, I could not go his line with the four cylinder bike. I tried to catch him, but on the last lap I tried not to push too much because it was easy to make a mistake, and a second place and the podium was good after such a tough qualifying.
In race two, for sure I had a little bit of luck with Carlo crashing. I was struggling a bit in the beginning, and when Johnny passed me I lost the concentration. It took me some time to catch him. But again, when the fuel level dropped down I felt so much better on the bike and fortunately I could pass Johnny on the straight because my BMW engine was so strong. Otherwise it would have been very difficult for me to try to make a pass. I am happy because the bike is working well on different types of tracks. But now we have to be focused, we cannot think that we are going to be on the top every Sunday so we have to keep working. But my team made a great job, thanks to everyone, to all the guys back in Germany. I am so happy and proud to be with BMW. This is the best team I ever worked with.”
Max Biaggi (3rd and 3rd)
“Two good races, even if the hectic initial phases made us lose a lot of ground. I was able to recover well and make it to the third step of the podium, but unfortunately overtaking and battling for positions means that you can’t lap the way you could on an open track. We are leaving the United States ahead in the standings, but the last few races have shown how BMW and Honda have been improving. We need to improve our bike as well, because our rivals’ progress is clear.”
Jonathan Rea (4th and 2nd)
We knew we had good pace for today but I had some front chatter in race one. It was coming from the engine braking so we released that a bit for race two. We changed the front tyre as well, because the temperature had gone up. That gave me the confidence to push because I knew the guys in front in race one had used the same one. It was good, and my guys gave me a little bit more power off the turn. It’s clear to see how well the bike is working and how much traction I’ve got. It’s just the big, long straight here at Salt Lake where we’ve been down on speed. Without dwelling on the negatives, my guys gave me a great bike and it’s working really well. I’ve got real confidence now and don’t feel like I’m riding on the edge – it’s quite controlled, which is a good thing, so thanks to all the team for their continued hard work. Nobody’s giving up and, without thinking about the championship, it’s just nice to come back here to the winner’s enclosure and be on the podium. After the nightmare of last year at Miller, it’s really cool to be fighting for wins.
Tom Sykes (8th and 5th)
“We were much better in race two. We made a bit of a change in set-up, three changes really, and I was able to be a bit more competitive. In the early laps I got behind Melandri and felt really good but unfortunately Davies came past and really upset my rhythm. It made it difficult for me to do what I needed to do, so my pace slowed. I just missed that slipstream from Melandri. In race one I was missing some front traction so I was not able to get the bike into the corners very well and obviously that affected my mid-corner and exit speed. You cannot give anything away to these boys but unfortunately this weekend it looks like we did for a while. We cannot get carried away with any thoughts like that because we are still second equal on points in the championship despite having a disappointing weekend by recent standards. We have got some better tracks coming up and I am looking forward to getting there. It is just hard for me to sit in my chair and debrief when some of the others are on the podium spraying champagne. I have got the taste for it now! On balance the guys in our team have done a great job again at this difficult track and in race two we were able to make changes that worked out quite well.”
Michel Fabrizio (9th and 12th)
“It could have gone better. In race one I had a bad start but I put my head down and I recovered to ninth position. In race two though, I had though a good start despite starting from fourteenth.”
Leon Haslam (10th and 8th)
“It was a tough weekend. Everything that could have gone wrong did this weekend. Due to electrical issues and other things we missed a lot of track time. In race one we were struggling with the engine brake. For race two we made good steps, the boys had worked very well, but we need to do more. Our lap time was not too bad in race two, but it is not where we should be. The main thing we need to work on is the engine braking. The long break between the red flag and the restart was a positive thing for me because we could reassess the bike and make some more changes after we lost a lot of time over the weekend. I got a good feeling over the first three laps and we made some more changes for the second part which brought another small improvement. Marco rode well over the whole weekend and now I look forward to Misano where I know we can challenge for the wins again.”
Davide Giugliano (11th and 7th)
“In race 1 we made a conservative tyre choice knowing that it was the one everyone was using but it didn’t suit my riding style and I wasn’t able to ride as I wanted to, I just had to control the situation as best I could. In race 2 I was satisfied to be the first Ducati - although of course I’m really sorry for Carlos, as the win would surely have gone to him. It’s not an easy track for the Ducati, we were all losing so much along the straight but, considering that we couldn’t even stick in the slipstream of the four-cylinders, I think that seventh is not at all bad and we go towards Misano satisfied, and ready for what is one of my favourite tracks.”
Leon Camier (13th and 11th)
“We knew today would be difficult because of our grid position. This championship is so competitive that you need to be on the first two rows of the grid if you want a shot at the podium. I made good starts and progressed well in both races and rode as hard as I could today. They were a couple of tough races, but I was happy with my race pace and know that I could’ve finished a lot higher up if I had started with a better grid position. I feel we’ll definitely be better at the more twisty tracks - like our next race in Misano - and I am looking forward to qualifying better and fighting for a top-six or a podium.”
Ayrton Badovini (14th and 13th)
“I’m not happy with today’s two races. We still have to close the gap to the leaders so we must keep working and not give up. The bike’s not working well enough mid-turn on the hairpin bends and because of that we lose a lot of ground. In race two we made some small steps forward but there’s still a lot to do and now we must focus on the next round at Misano.”
John Hopkins (DNF and 16th)
“I’m happy to be back with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team, but disappointed that I was only able to do seven laps in the first race. I clipped the kerb with the generator cover and was flicked off and that was that. Luckily I didn’t hurt myself, but afterwards I was really looking forward to race two and doing better. I started OK but, as the race wore on, my bike began to suffer with a technical problem and I couldn’t push as hard as I would’ve liked. I kept going as fast as I could, but just missed out on the points.”
Loris Baz (15th and 14th)
“Two races in the points was good but I wanted a bit more! The team wants me to keep getting used to the bike and they guys have told me not to risk a crash. In the first race I had good lap times and I finished ten seconds from Tom Sykes, which was really good. The second race was also going well but I could not follow Fabrizio, as he was a bit too fast. I was with Badovini through almost all the race. I was waiting to pass him and I think I passed him four times in the last two laps, a big battle but I could hear all the guys in the team in my head saying not to crash, so he finally passed me back. We scored points again and we are getting a good setting for me, and every session the bike is getting better.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (17th and DNF)
It’s been a difficult first time here at Miller for me. We started with rain and improved each session but not enough to catch up with the others. This morning I felt really good in warm-up so I was hoping that I could make a really good race. But in race one I had a problem and went off the track about three times and it was really difficult to finish the race without crashing. In the second race I wanted to make things better and was really motivated, but I pushed a little too hard and crashed. I’m lucky that I’m not hurt so I can look forward to Misano now, which is a track that I know.