23 December 2007
Crash.net's WSBK season review – Part 1.
The big story at the start of the 2007 World Superbike season was the debut of former MotoGP star Max Biaggi who, after a season on the sidelines, was returning to world championship racing with Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra.
A thorough winter test schedule saw Biaggi well prepared for the Qatar season opener, where he confirmed his talent by qualifying second on the grid behind Troy Corser in his first ever Superpole appearance, but even better was to follow.
A cautious Biaggi had been careful to avoid setting targets prior to the start of the season and certainly didn't claim he'd win his first ever race - but that's just what he did! Max snatched a close victory over James Toseland, while Ducati's Lorenzo Lanzi was best of the rest twelve seconds further back.
But in a sign of things to come, Ten Kate Honda star Toseland learned quickly from his first race defeat and turned the tables on Biaggi by 0.7secs in the second and final race, when Corser completed the podium on his R1 debut.
Biaggi and Toseland thus left Losail on top of the championship standings, with defending title holder Troy Bayliss just seventh after a difficult start to the season on the aging 999.
It was to be a rough season for double world champion Bayliss, but a notable highlight came next time out at Phillip Island, when the Australian superstar took a home pole position, then clinched his first victory of 2007 after cleverly shaking off Toseland in the opening race.
But James again learnt his lesson for the second outing, when he and Bayliss put on a thrilling display for the 'Island fans - which ended with the Englishman taking a brilliant victory by just 0.27secs.
Former world champion Toseland, sacked by Ducati at the end of 2005, had rebuilt his reputation by finishing second to Bayliss in 2006, his first year with Ten Kate Honda, and was riding better than ever in 2007.
When main rival Bayliss fell heavily in race one at Donington Park, round three, badly injuring his groin and forcing the amputation of a finger in the process, Toseland's title capacity was left in no doubt - despite being robbed of a potential double victory when his CBR1000RR suffered technical problems while holding a clear lead in race two. It would be Toseland's only non-score of the season.
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