Biaggi edges Haslam for Portimao win
28 March 2010
Max Biaggi has taken his second race victory for Aprilia in the World Superbike Championship after fending off a late charge from Leon Haslam at Portimao.
The Italian looked confident from the start and while an error on lap eight would allow Haslam to move ahead, Biaggi would get his revenge six laps from the chequered flag before holding on for the win.
Haslam, who surrendered the lead after making a mistake on lap 16, rallied hard in the closing stages, but couldn't get back in front, the Suzuki rider settling for second instead.
Jonathan Rea recovered from a poor start to finish a distant third at the expense of Cal Crutchlow, who was on course for a first podium with Yamaha when he crashed out of contention three laps from the end.
From the start it became evident that victory would only ever be disputed by Biaggi and Haslam, the pair quickly forging ahead as their rivals tripped over one another in the battle for third early on.
Indeed, by lap five, Biaggi and Haslam had established a three second advantage over third place man Crutchlow, the Briton stalking his way back into contention after a poor start from pole position left him down in sixth place initially.
Despite their proximity though, both riders maintained a rapid pace, Biaggi even dropping into the 1min 42secs bracket as he battled away with Haslam. His attempts at putting air between himself and his rival, however, led to a mistake on lap eight when he ran wide at turn one, Haslam immediately pouncing to resume the advantage.
From here, Haslam mirrored his Phillip Island performance as he fended off Biaggi, who had now regrouped, by keeping his lines clean and now allowing the former MotoGP rider a chance to muscle the position off him.
However, an error did eventually come, Haslam getting too deep into turn five on lap 16 and running wide, allowing Biaggi through.
It would prove to be the decisive moment of the race, Haslam's attempts to move his way back past proving fruitless as he was consigned to follow Biaggi across the finish line.
Despite missing out on a second win of the season, Haslam's third consecutive podium finish does mean he now holds an 18 point advantage over Checa in the overall standings.
The battle for the lead could have been made a three-way had Crutchlow maintained a fast pace in the run up to the mid-way point. Indeed, having made his way up into third position, Crutchlow looked capable of bridging the three second gap to the leaders, the reigning World Supersport Championship reducing the deficit to 1.6secs only to a mistake at turn one on lap eleven.
Although he clung onto his position, Crutchlow gradually came under pressure from Rea before low-siding off the circuit with three laps of the race remaining. While he remounted, he only had time to recover to 14th and two points.
Instead, Rea capitalised, the Northern Irishman producing a battling performance after being elbowed off the circuit through the opening turns of the race and dropping to 12th position.
Fighting his way to the front of a close chasing pack, the position could have gone one of four ways as Althea Ducati pair Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne, as well as Leon Camier duelled just behind.
Eventually Checa held on for fourth, albeit by less than a tenth over Leon Camier, who produced a charging ride to break into the World Superbike top five for the first time.
Indeed, Camier was the man on a charge having started in 11th position, the Briton raising eyebrows by catching and passing both Noriyuki Haga and former British Superbike team-mate Byrne before almost overhauling Checa.
Byrne ran as high as third before settling for sixth, ahead of James Toseland, whose quiet progress in the early stages gave way to a late charge that included the overtaking of Haga on the very final lap.
Having qualified a lowly 18th, a trademark fast start for Haga lifted him into contention initially, but the Japanese rider couldn't sustain the pace over the race and would eventually fade, some 18 seconds off the leaders.
BMW rounded out the top ten for a solid result, although Troy Corser will be disappointed to finish ninth after a feisty first few laps saw him challenging for the podium early on.
Outside the top ten, Michel Fabrizio made only marginal progress up the order from 17th on the grid, the Italian looking out-of-sorts as he experienced an off-track moment on the way to 11th.
Lorenzo Lanzi finished 12th on the DFX Ducati, ahead of Sylvain Guintoli, who endured a scary moment early on when he ran off the circuit at high-speed, the Frenchman lucky not to fall, even if it did leave him at the back of the field.
Behind the recovering Crutchlow, Tom Sykes scored the 15th and final point for Kawasaki, albeit only after Andrew Pitt tumbled out of the position in the closing laps.