21 September 2008
Vallelunga: Haga wins it as Bayliss bins it.
Noriyuki Haga has won his second World Superbike race of the weekend at Vallelunga, but the big news was Troy Bayliss' failure to score when he came down just three corners from the chequered flag – and the title!
Up to that point, Haga and Bayliss had been embarking on one of their legendary tussles, potentially a fitting final fight that these two will enjoy before Bayliss retires four races from now.
Just as he had done in the first race, Bayliss got the better start, sweeping in front of his fellow front row starters, but the first few seconds were marred by a horrifying accident involving Max Biaggi and Kenan Sofuoglu.
Although it isn't clear what caused Biaggi to get out of shape around the sweeping left-hander that follows the home straight, the Sterilgarda Ducati dramatically high-sided, spitting the Italian off the bike but also collecting Sofuoglu at high-speed, the Turk being catapulted over the handlebars of his Ten Kate Honda.
While race one podium sitter Biaggi was seemingly unharmed as he hobbled away, marshals attended Sofuoglu, already carrying a shoulder injury this weekend, at the side of the track before taking him away to the medical centre. We will have more on his condition when we receive it.
Bayliss, eager to put in a better performance than he did in the first race, continued to lead, ahead of Haga and Corser, all three riders putting in lap record breaking pace as they pulled away from the remaining pack.
Despite Corser's continued presence, the race was always about Haga and Bayliss, the Japanese rider making his first move for the lead on lap five when he drafted past on the home straight and into the sweeping left-hander, a thrilling high-speed move made all the more spectacular by the minimal distance between them.
Bayliss eventually snatched it back, but Haga assumed the lead again on lap six when he slipped past on the back straight. Despite dropping back slightly, Bayliss kept the pressure up and was soon back on the Yamaha's tail.
Line-astern lap after lap, Bayliss was back through at the final turn on lap 12 when Haga ran ever so slightly wide, before resisting his attempts to come back at him straight afterwards.
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