Preview: Qatar.

After the excitement of the 2009 World Superbike season-opener at Phillip Island, the championship heads for the Qatar desert with new Ducati Xerox signing Noriyuki Haga at the head of a field bulging with talent.

Despite a poor qualifying position during the new 'knockout' Superpole format, Haga stormed to a confident race one victory at Phillip Island, before being outgunned by Yamaha's star rookie Ben Spies in the second outing.

Spies, the reigning triple AMA Superbike champion, had qualified on pole, but saw his hopes of a race one triumph end when he speared off track on the opening lap. Nevertheless, Spies will start round two fourth in the championship, 20 points behind Haga.

Separating the two title favourites are Max Neukirchner and Leon Haslam. Neukirchner came within a few corners of victory in race one in Australia, before a bobble allowed Haga to pounce, while Haslam earned an excellent third position in race two. The Stiggy Honda rider had been sixth in race one, which was where Neukirchner finished race two.

Neukirchner's Alstare Suzuki team-mate Yukio Kagayama was the only other rider to stand on the Phillip Island podium, with Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and the rejuvenated Regis Laconi (DFX Ducati) just falling short.

WSBK now boasts no fewer than seven manufacturers, following the popular addition of Aprilia and BMW. Both machines immediately proved to be competitive in their debut race, with Troy Corser (BMW) recording the fastest lap in race one and Max Biaggi (Aprilia) battling for a podium position right until the very end of race two.

The layout of the Losail circuit should reward the characteristics of the two four-cylinder machines, even more so given the fact that Corser and Biaggi have both won on that track.

Kawasaki is once again playing catch-up relative to its rivals, but with the PBM Motorsport squad still coming to terms with its new machinery and 'official' status significant improvements are expected.

The opening round of the Supersport World Championship offered a thrilling spectacle and Losail will be another chance to see some more slipstreaming action, in particular down the long pit straight.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Biaggi, Parkes, Spies, Haga, Checa, Neukirchner, Corser, Australian WSBK 2009
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Hayden, AMA Superbike, SBK, 2002.
Chaz Davies, Ducati [Credit: Ducati Media]
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Hayden, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Imola WSBK 2017
Alex Lowes, Imola WSBK 2017

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wr86 - Unregistered

March 12, 2009 11:49 AM

guess the flukes continue.. American Ben Spies stunned the WSB paddock during the opening free practice session in Qatar this morning by positing the second fastest time of the hour long session. Despite no previous track knowledge of the flat and technical desert circuit Spies, learnt the track with devastating precision.

waitbrian - Unregistered

March 11, 2009 12:36 PM

I can't wait. Hard to pick a winner in WSB although with their power Ten Kata would have to be favourites in WSS. Westy has got to qualify better this time. Come on Saturday night. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

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