Biaggi ends title-winning year on top
3 October 2010
Max Biaggi brought his title-winning 2010 World Superbike Championship campaign to a perfect conclusion with a hard fought tenth win of the season at Magny-Cours.
The final race of a thrilling WSBK season, Biaggi led throughout the second-half of the race, though he was forced to contend with the late attentions of Cal Crutchlow.
Indeed, Crutchlow upped the pressure during the closing laps, but Biaggi pinched each racing line and made the most of his straight-line speed advantage to keep the race one winner behind.
Just as he did in the first race, Biaggi got the jump off the line ahead of Crutchlow initially before Sylvain Guintoli swept past into second around Estoril. The Frenchman then out-braked Biaggi for the lead at the Adelaide hairpin, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
Looking to make amends for his exclusion in the first race, when he was punished for not heeding a drive-through penalty, Guintoli immediately stretched his advantage up front, while Biaggi went with him.
Just behind, Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga – both having overtaken Crutchlow – came remarkably close to giving the factory team an embarrassing send-off as they bashed panels on more than one occasion in the fight for third. Indeed, the inter-term fight nearly came to a messy conclusion on lap three as they made brief contact on the run to Lycee, though both would find themselves demoted to fourth and fifth when Crutchlow out-dragged them into the Adelaide hairpin.
Up front, Guintoli – leading his first race since Phillip Island – was keeping things neat in front on the Suzuki, the GSX-R1000 proving just fast enough to hold off Biaggi's Aprilia. However, the two-way dice would expand to a three-way by lap nine, just as Biaggi made a decisive move on Guintoli for the lead at Adelaide.
Crutchlow attempted to follow suit on lap twelve, but while Guintoli rebuffed his first move at the hairpin with a switch-back, the Yamaha rider eventually made it stick at the same bend three laps later.
Swiftly going off in search of Biaggi, Crutchlow was soon on his tail once more, but while he was able to overhaul him in race one, the Briton was never able to get more than partly alongside his rival this time.
Close right up to the chequered flag, Biaggi crossed the line in front to move into double figures in terms of victories, marking the ideal end to an outstanding season for both himself and newly crowned manufacturers' champions Aprilia.
Crutchlow settled for second safe in the knowledge that he will progress to MotoGP having ended the weekend as the top scorer and with a top five finish in the overall standings.
The fight for the final podium position would prove similarly entertaining as Guintoli, who was dropped to fourth by a charging Fabrizio on lap 16, fought back in the final three laps.
Roared on by the crowd, Guintoli twice managed to get the better of Fabrizio, but the Italian would strike back, the Ducati man getting the edge on his rival with a boisterous pass three corners from the chequered flag. While it did deny Guintoli – who at the same time maintained his perfect finishing record (if not scoring record) – a maiden WSBK podium, it was a fairly fitting result for the outgoing Ducati team.
His team-mate Haga – who will ride an Aprilia next season – was a lonely fifth, ahead of Jakub Smrz, who leaves the Guandalini team he has raced with for three seasons with another good top ten finish.
A race of high attrition as only 14 riders finished – not helped by two non-starters in Ruben Xaus and Jonathan Rea -, several notables retired from good positions, with Troy Corser pitting with mechanical problems, James Toseland crashing for the second time today and Lorenzo Lanzi falling from seventh.
As such, Luca Scassa completed a fine season aboard a Ducati with a seventh place finish, ahead of Shane Byrne and an unusually out-of-sorts Carlos Checa.
Leon Haslam rounded out the top ten after he was forced off the circuit in avoidance of a stricken Toseland, who had fallen at the final corner chicane. Tom Sykes ended his year with 11th, while Max Neukirchner, Ian Lowry and Matteo Baiocco were the remaining finishers.