18 September 2008
Vallelunga - Preview.
Having been heading in that direction for much of the season, the 12th round of the World Superbike Championship at Vallelunga finally brings up the first match point for long-time leader Troy Bayliss.
After creeping over the three-figure mark with a victory at Donington Park, Bayliss just needs to outscore his key rivals in Italy to ensure that he signs off from a glittering career clutching one final WSBK title.
If he did wrap it up at Vallelunga, he'd have chosen a good place to do it, as the sweeping circuit proves one of the three home rounds for Ducati Corse (Misano included).
Situated on the northern outskirts of Rome, Vallelunga arrived on the World Superbike calendar in 2007 after undergoing a significant revamp in 2005, one that lengthened the track and brought it up to international standards.
With several long 'straights' (they are actually subtly curved straights) and a few slow corners, Vallelunga has been described as somewhat 'Mickey Mouse', but with its mid-September setting expected to still draw out the fans, it remains a mostly popular venue.
Most will be out to see if Bayliss can put the title out of official reach at Vallelunga, although it is his namesake Troy Corser who has now become his main rival after moving up ahead of Max Neukirchner in the standings.
Indeed, while a win and a retirement for Bayliss at Donington was far from ideal, it was still enough to increase his lead over most notable rivals Corser, Neukirchner, Carlos Checa and Noriyuki Haga, all of which endured shockers in comparison.
While third place in the second race made up Corser's headline, the fact he was off his bike on six occasions shows it was still a weekend to forget for the Aussie rider. Whether his bruises let him forget, however, is another thing…
Neukirchner was anonymous all weekend, falling in the first race before ambling about in the mid-field of the second race, the German eventually coming home 14th and scoring two meagre points.
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