Fabrizio victorious after last corner drama
10 May 2009
Michel Fabrizio has taken his first World Superbike Championship victory after benefitting from a problem for Ben Spies, who dramatically slowed on the final corner whilst leading at Monza.
Having led for the majority of the race, the American looked set for victory heading into the last lap of the race after shaking off the advances of Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, but was forced to coast across the finish line in 15th when his Yamaha slowed down suddenly through the Parabolica, just metres from the finish line
Despite the fortuitous circumstances surrounding the win, Fabrizio's maiden triumph remains a worthy one having led in the early stages of the race before developing a small gearing problem that dropped him behind Spies and Haga.
Nonetheless, Fabrizio worked his way around the problem and stalked his way back into contention, dicing with team-mate Haga before launching an assault on Spies and passing for the lead with three laps to go.
However, Spies struck back one lap later to grab an advantage he thought would be good enough to carry him to the finish line.
Fabrizio still had to work hard for what would become the win, going head-to-head with Haga once again and pulling off an audacious – and crucial – move on him at Ascari with just over a lap to go.
The race itself was a restart following a terrifying accident involving five riders at the initial getaway. Prompted by contact between several riders, both Makoto Tamada and Brendan Roberts were forced onto the grass, where they subsequently fell heavily.
However, Roberts' errant Guandalini Ducati would continue skating across the grass and into the path of the other riders rounding the opening chicane where it would proceed to eliminate Max Neukirchner, who was leading at that stage. Early reports have indicated that Neukirchner has sustained a leg injury.
Further back, Tommy Hill and Troy Corser also came to grief in the mid-pack, with one of the bikes subsequently catching fire.
Prompting a lengthy clean up operation, the race didn't restart for almost an hour, but once it did only Corser, who made the restart, would fail to complete the opening lap after crashing at the Parabolica.
Away from the fight for the lead, which quickly became a three-way battle, a spirited tussle between Max Biaggi and Yukio Kagayama would eventually go the Italian's way. However, despite being promoted to third, courtesy of Spies' problem, Biaggi would quickly learn that he had been given a 20 second penalty, dropping him down to 11th position.
It meant the podium would fall to, surprisingly, Ryuichi Kiyonari, who put in a marvellous performance on the Ten Kate Honda after a terrible start left him in 17th position at the end of the opening lap.
Nonetheless, the Japanese rider put in a series of consistently quick laps to pick off the competition gradually, although even he was surprised to secure a first podium of the season having entered the final lap in fifth position.
Countryman Kagayama gave Suzuki something to smile about following Neukirchner's dramatic exit in fourth place, ahead of Jonathan Rea, who got the better of former BSB sparring partner Tom Sykes following a race-long duel.
Spies' problems and Biaggi's penalty would also play into the hands of Ruben Xaus, who recorded BMW's best finish at WSBK level in a fine seventh position, ahead of Regis Laconi and Carlos Checa, while Broc Parkes sneaked a top ten finish for Kawasaki too.
Biaggi finds himself a disgruntled 11th, while Jakub Smrz, Shinya Nakano and Shane Byrne were the remaining riders to jump ahead of Spies as he crept across the finish line.