So I’ll start this one with some pertinent facts, to put things in perspective:
The championship was founded in 1988, with a season consisting of 13 rounds, each round has two races and the results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for riders and the other for manufacturers.
The HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship made its second visit to the southern hemisphere in 2010 for the Kyalami round from 15-16 May 2010.
The bikes raced in the championship are tuned versions of the normal road bikes available for sale to the public, in contrast with MotoGP bikes which are specifically built for racing. MotoGP can therefore be said to be the motorbike equivalent of Formula 1, whereas Superbike racing is akin to Touring Car.
Ducati’s v-twin motorcycles have dominated the Superbike World championship winning the Manufacturer title 16 times in the last 22 years. So it comes as no surprise that Ducati’s 1098R race bikes placed first and second in race 1 of the championship race on Sunday – with Michel Fabrizio, who took his first race win of the 2010 World Championship, and Caros Checa dominating the entire race from start to finish. In 3rd place was championship leader Leon Haslam.
Race 1 – Ducati maintained 3 wins in a row at Kyalami, and Michel Fabrizio was very happy about that, obviously, as he also set the lap record – later taken in race 2 by Cal Crutchlow at 1’37.243.
Their worry for the next race however was the rising track temperature, as their Pirelli tyres are sensitive to the track temperatures.
During the interval, the Supersport race featuring two South African drivers went underway. And a special mention should be made of Lance Isaacs, who put on a strong fight and managed an 11th place finish in the Honda CBR600RR. The top 3 finish of this race were Eugene Lartey, Kenan Sofuoglu, in first and second, both riding Honda riding CBR600RR, and in 3rd place Chaz Davies in his Triumph Daytona 675.
We spoke to Johnny Rea before race 2 in the pits and asked how he fancied his chances of winning – “I am very optimistic about the race, my chances are good, and I’m going out there for a possible win” His confidence made him our favourite.
Race 2 proved to be a showstopper, an exciting thrill that kept spectators on the edge of their seats through every corner and straight.
The race was a three way battle between Johnathan Rea, Leon Haslam, and Max Biaggi, who fought for first place throughout; however Leon Haslam edged ahead on lap 23 of 24, and proved stronger than the rest, as they had no answer to his late but decisive move. Johnathan Rea, who maintained first place for the majority of the race, finished second, with Max Biaggi in third.
After the race, we had a one on one with the winners:
“Haslam, as a kid in the 80s, you watched your father race and win on this track (Kyalami), and took it as well,” so we asked him how he felt about that, and whether it was a goal of his.
“It was definitely always a plan, but we weren’t sure how it would happen, as it normally isn’t that easy. I am just glad it did!”
Haslam kept close to the leader throughout the race and maintained second position until the 2nd last lap when bolted ahead to finish the race on top, with a half a second lead. We asked him if he had planned the late move or just grabbed at an opportunity. Not giving anything away he mentioned, “The corner I took the lead is my favourite corner, I saw an opportunity and took it.”
Our favourite, Johnny Rae, had the lead stolen from under his nose after 23 laps so we caught up with him after the race for a quick chat.
“It’s a very technical track, and found it to be very bumpy as well,” he said when asked how he enjoys racing at Kyalami. Funny, as Haslam alluded to the same when asked about the track. “Technical” seems to be a biker’s term…Any bikers out there, who know what it means in layman’s terms, do drop us an e-mail.
When asked about whether he would come back for the world cup, Johnny commented, “I love coming here (South Africa), and I hope I’ll be back for 2010.” We hope to see you here Johnny!
Oh, and we said hi to the 3rd place guy.