SBK: Leon Haslam and Noriyuki Haga Split Wins at Valencia

Two action-packed races held under clear Spanish skies saw two different winners make their mark, Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) in race one and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) in race two. The races could not have been more different, with Haslam a clear leader in an uninterrupted contest, while Haga won an aggregate race two by only 0.025 seconds. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) scored two podiums today, while James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) also put in top three rides.

Leon Haslam had a comfortable win in the end, after early leader Carlos Checa went out with a technical problem, and Max Biaggi could not make up the ground to get back into winning contention. James Toseland’s return to WSB in 2010 was marked by his first podium on his Sterilgarda Yamaha four, while BMW Motorrad Motorsport earned a great fourth place with Troy Corser, the highest ever SBK place for the team since entering WSBK last year. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) fought through to fifth, but could not pass Corser in the final laps.

Haga secured his first race win of 2010 after a tense fight with second place rider Checa and Biaggi. A two part aggregate race was required after a crash on lap four of the first heat brought out the red flags. Simon Andrews and Vittorio Iannuzzo both had heavy falls at high speed on the start/finish straight, but two fractures to Andrews’s left foot and heel were the final result. The total time from the first three laps, and the time from a second heat of 20-laps were combined to find the final results. The margin of victory in the two-part race was 0.025 seconds between Haga and Checa, with Biaggi only 0.0299 from the win, in third place.

In the championship, Leon Haslam’s fourth in the second of today’s races gives him 123 points to Biaggi’s 105 and Checa’s 80. Haga is on 79 points, in fourth place. After a sixth and fifth today, Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is now fifth on 60 points, while Toseland and Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) are tied on 50 points. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) had two no-scores leaving him eighth on the same 46 points as the ever-improving BMW of Troy Corser. Leon Camier led race two for Aprilia but fell for the second time today, scoring no points. Kawasaki Racing Team rider Tom Sykes went 11th and 15th, now sitting in 16th place overall.

Leon Haslam: “To make the break was a bit of a surprise, because I felt we could race the other guys, but for sure it would be a big battle to the end. But when I got to the lead I saw the lap times I was doing were not so great and I knew that Max and the others guys could go quicker, it had been proven. But I kept my rhythm and when I saw a small gap behind I pushed again and the gap became bigger and bigger. It’s great to win another race and leave with the championship lead.”

Noriyuki Haga: “I like Valencia a lot. I am Mr Valencia! Before the red flag in race two I made a good start and was in fifth position. In the restart I started from fifth and I kept a good pace. It was not easy to catch and pass the top two riders but in the last few laps I pushed hard and took the win. I was not thinking about the time difference I just knew I had to go at the front.”

Max Biaggi: “We had a very nice race in race two, just like the first one. The temperature went up a lot in the second race, which meant that the grip went down. Nori and Carlos were in front of me in race two and they deserved their places. I could not follow Haga in the last two laps because he was very fast but second and third at Valencia are two good results.”

Carlos Checa: “It was a good weekend; if not the first race then the second one, when I was battling right to the end. I thought I could control the second part of race two by sitting behind Max but then Nori arrived and broke up the group. I tried to catch him at the end but I could not make up the difference. Anyway I think it was a good result.”

James Toseland: “I think Max was slightly faster than me after half race distance in race one, but I was stronger where you can pass another rider, and that made it difficult for him to overtake. Once he did get past, he helped me take a couple of tenths of a second from my lap times and I kept ahead of Corser and Haga. I couldn’t do any more but we are getting better all the time.”