18 September 2008
Vallelunga - Preview.
Checa had to settle for ninth in the second race, despite qualifying on the front row of the grid for both races, while Haga came away with absolutely nothing when he retired in the first race and was then black flagged in the second due to an apparent mix-up regarding a drive-thru penalty.
As such, Bayliss has 101 points over Corser now with 150 remaining. Provided Bayliss has another Brno, rather than another Miller Motorsports Park, we could be celebrating another title come Sunday.
The ever consistent Fonsi Nieto retains sixth overall heading to Vallelunga after managing a seventh place at Donington Park, although he is very much under pressure from two of the form-men in the championship now: Max Biaggi and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Biaggi actually ties with Nieto on points currently, but having scored a podium in the last four rounds, he is very much on course to take away that place. He needs to show well too having seen his much expected switch to Ducati Xerox come to nothing and with seats being snapped up quickly, he is running out of options.
He too has to keep his eyes on what is going on behind him as Kiyonari is looming just two points further back. Kiyonari could have been in the fight for second place in the standings had he not thrown it off whilst leading at Donington Park, but three wins in four races has still seen him turn a mediocre rookie season into a stunning one.
Now comes the big test though: Kiyonari has shown how quick – and spectacular - he can be around circuits he knows well, but can he translate that confidence into a less familiar venue? Luckily for him, Vallelunga isn't a completely new setting after several teams tested there earlier in the season, so Kiyonari has a great chance to carry that momentum on.
His resurgence has since pushed Michel Fabrizio and Ruben Xaus down to ninth and tenth in the standings, the former rider once again only showing good pace in the final laps of the second race, while the latter hit the headlines for his outburst to team-mate Biaggi when he was removed from the podium.
With several top names failing to shine at Donington Park, some of the lesser heralded riders came to the fore, not least Gregorio Lavilla, who reminded everyone of his ability on the Vent-Axia VK Honda with a fourth and seventh place finish. Moving him back up to be the best true privateer on the grid, Lavilla has now finished all but one race this season in the points – an impressive feat.
He, however, remains under pressure from Jakub Smrz, who matches Lavilla on points but sits behind in 13th overall on count-back.
Elsewhere, Roberto Rolfo and Lorenzo Lanzi will be looking for strong results on the home ground, as will the factory-supported PSG-1 Kawasaki squad, which have scored just one point in the last 16 attempts if you add Regis Laconi and Makoto Tamada's races together.
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