Max Biaggi has apologised to Leon Haslam for the accident that eliminated both riders from the second World Superbike Championship race at Moscow Raceway and cost the Italian the lead in the overall standings.
Having begun the weekend just 10.5 points ahead of Marco Melandri, who had out-scored his rival in each of the last three events, Biaggi was under pressure to stay in touch with his countryman in race two having struggled for pace in race one.
Indeed, though Biaggi did pick up a crucial third place finish behind Melandri in race one, he was helped in part by four riders crashing ahead of him before Eugene Laverty responded to team orders to give up his certain podium result.
However, with Melandri working his way to the front of the field in race two, Biaggi's charge came to an abrupt end on lap ten when he went off line to pass Jonathan Rea. Blaming a lack of grip on the dirtier side of the circuit for being unable to stop in time, Biaggi subsequently slammed into the back of the innocent Leon Haslam, sending both barrelling out of the race.
Apologising to Haslam, who otherwise escaped major injury, the accident has nonetheless damaged Biaggi's hopes of winning this year's championship as Melandri's subsequent win puts the BMW rider in front by 18.5 points with three rounds remaining.
“The crash was the last thing we needed,” he said. “Unfortunately, when I changed my line in the braking section I ended up on some dirty asphalt and I wasn't able to slow down. I saw Haslam drawing closer and tried unsuccessfully to avoid the collision.
“I apologised to him straight away. At first I thought he had been injured, but fortunately he assured me that he was OK. After the podium finish in the first race I wanted to stay up front. This really complicates the championship but it certainly isn't over yet.”
As well as dropping 18.5 points behind Melandri, Biaggi is now just 22.5 points clear of the in-form Tom Sykes in third position.