29 June 2008
Misano: Neukirchner wins Misano race one.
Max Neukirchner has won his second race of the season, and taken second place in the World Superbike Championship standings, during race one at Misano.
The German, who had qualified just tenth on the grid, worked his way methodically forward to sit fourth - behind Ruben Xaus, Troy Corser and Troy Bayliss - by lap 11 of 24.
Home stars Max Biaggi and Michel Fabrizio were also leading contenders at that stage, having each appeared in second position, but were eliminated soon after when Fabrizio made a misguided attempt to dive inside the Sterilgarda rider into a right hander.
Fabrizio lost the front of his factory 1098, and then smashed into the side of Biaggi's satellite machine. Max, having made a similar mistake when try to pass Noriyuki Haga at Misano last season, contained his frustration more than he might, while Fabrizio appeared to feel Biaggi was somehow to blame.
Meanwhile, Neukirchner made short work of Bayliss and was soon closing in on Corser and Xaus. Corser, aware of this new threat, responded by demoting future BMW rider (and team-mate?) Xaus from the lead with ten laps to go.
But the Australian, winless since he left Alstare Suzuki at the end of 2006, couldn't escape and soon found Neukirchner's GSX-R back on his rear wheel after the young German worked his way quickly around Xaus.
It took less than a lap for Neukirchner to neatly outbrake Corser for the lead and, although unable to break away, Max held firm under pressure from the double world champion right to the chequered flag.
Championship leader Bayliss brought the sole remaining Ducati Xerox bike home in third position, after slipping back to fourth during the middle stages, while Xaus was left to collect fourth position after leading the first 16 laps.
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Carlos Checa, who began the race second in the points, won a close fight for fifth with Ducati riders Lorenzo Lanzi and Jakob Smrz, with Gregorio Lavilla an encouraging eighth on his privateer-spec Ventaxia VK Honda.
Corser's Yamaha Italia team-mate Noriyuki Haga endured a disappointing race, the Japanese getting a poor start from 14th on the grid and finishing just twelfth at the flag.
A famous home Yamaha rider was watching the WSBK action from trackside in the form of seven time grand prix world champion Valentino Rossi, who also attended the 2007 event.
Race two will start with Bayliss 42 points ahead of Neukirchner, with Checa a further two points behind.
Misano race one:
5. C. Checa
15. D. Checa
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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