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Biaggi returns Aprilia to victory circle

26 July 2009

Max Biaggi has taken Aprilia to their first victory since returning to the World Superbike Championship after capitalising on a collision between Ben Spies and Michel Fabrizio during the opening race at Brno.

The first World Superbike win for Aprilia since Regis Laconi claimed victory at Imola back in 2001, Biaggi's triumph also marks his first since 2007 when he won at Vallelunga almost two years ago.

Although the Italian was in contention for victory from the start of the race, his cause was undoubtedly aided by a coming together between Fabrizio and Spies on lap four as they disputed the lead of the race.

Having recovered from a tardy start, Fabrizio was tailing Spies as they entered the final corner complex, the Italian proceeding to attempt a move on the inside of his title rival. However, with Fabrizio not quite alongside as an unsuspecting Spies closed the door, the Ducati Xerox folded beneath him, pushing him into the side of the Yamaha.

Sending them both barrelling out of the race, an incensed Spies vented his frustration at an apologetic Fabrizio having been denied a perfect opportunity to close on a laboured Noriyuki Haga in the standings.

Their demise would duly play into the hands of a following Biaggi, who simply moved into the lead of a race he wouldn't lose.

Prior to Fabrizio and Spies' collision, Corser had grabbed the headlines in the early stages after sweeping into the lead of the race at the first corner, the Australian capitalising on a season-best grid position of sixth to push ahead of Spies, Jonathan Rea, Fabrizio and Biaggi.

He valiantly held onto the spot too, the visibly improved S1000RR proving a match for its rivals in a straight line, while Corser even shrugged off Spies' move for the lead on lap two by snatching it straight back at the very next corner.

Unsurprisingly, Spies' second attempt proved more successful, while Fabrizio and Biaggi dragged themselves through into second and third too.

However, despite Corser's immense start, there was disappointment on the other side of the garage for Ruben Xaus who suffered a dramatic accident mid-way round the first lap, the Spaniard losing the rear of his BMW before it proceeded to flip end-over-end across the gravel.

Together with Lorenzo Lanzi coming down on lap three, as well as Spies and Fabrizio's accident, four of the top ten contenders were already out of the race, while an unscheduled pit-stop for Tom Sykes had also ruled him out.

With Biaggi now comfortably in charge, Ten Kate Honda pair Rea and Carlos Checa, up from tenth on the grid, were left to fight over second position, the Spaniard getting the edge on his younger team-mate on lap five.

Further back, all eyes were focused on Haga too, who was putting in a fine performance as he attempted to capitalise on Spies' unexpected retirement. Rising to eighth position, Haga's hopes of avoiding a strenuous race were ended as he became embroiled in an intense tussle for sixth with Leon Haslam, Makoto Tamada and Jakub Smrz.

Having made an excellent start from 17th position on the grid, Haslam led the quartet for the majority of the race, resisting the attentions of Haga firstly and then Tamada, the returning Japanese rider producing possibly his most convincing ride on the Kawasaki to date.

As it happens, all three would fall foul of Smrz, the local favourite being cheered on as he picked his way back up the order from a 12th place starting position. He would eventually pass Haslam three laps from the chequered flag to secure an encouraging sixth place finish.

Back at the front, despite Checa's best attempts to reel him in, Biaggi was untroubled as he made sure of keeping the RSV-4 upright through the final turns to claim a marvellous victory for the Italian team. His win also makes him only the fifth different race winner this year, while it also moves him back up in the fight for fourth overall.

Checa finished a lonely second for what remains one of his most convincing performances of the season, while Rea completed a good race for Ten Kate Honda in third, despite having been unable to match his team-mate in terms of race pace.

The battle for fourth came down to an exchange between Corser and Shane Byrne, the Briton stalking his way back into contention before overtaking the former champion on lap 14. Fourth marks his fifth top six result in five races.

Despite slipping back in the closing stages, fifth still represents BMW's best-ever result at World Superbike level, Corser's inspired performance the best indicator yet of the team's potential at this level.

Behind Smrz in sixth, Haslam was a satisfied seventh having endured a troublesome weekend so far, although his Stiggy Honda team-mate John Hopkins didn't fare so well when he crashed out whilst running in tenth position.

Perhaps the most important result of the race, however, was Haga's eighth position, the championship leader defying crippling pain in his shoulder and wrist to finish comfortably inside the top ten. Crucially, this adds eight points to his margin over Spies, an advantage that now stands at 22 points.

A late charge by Matthieu Lagrive saw him claim his best result yet on the Althea Honda in ninth place, the Frenchman taking advantage of a problem for Tamada in the closing stages to sneak ahead. Nonethless, Tamada held on for tenth position, his best World Superbike finish in 34 races.

Outside the top ten, Fonsi Nieto was a solid 11th on his debut with the DFX Ducati team, the Spaniard just edging out Broc Parkes on the second Kawasaki.

Ryuichi Kiyonari, who finished inside the top five at Brno last season, continued his struggles on the HRC-liveried Ten Kate Honda down in 13th position, just ahead of countryman Yukio Kagayama on the sole Alstare Suzuki. Vittorio Iannuzzo was 15th to score his and the Squadra Corse Italia team's first point of the season.


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