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Bayliss stretches lead in Valencia

Checa challenges, but falls short in pair of races

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Apr. 07, 2008
Lorenzo Lanzi and Noriyuka Haga each earned their first victories of the World Superbike championship, but a pair of second-place finishes widened Troy Bayliss’ lead in the overall standings, following the April 5 race in Valencia, Spain.

Lanzi, of RG Ducati, came out on top in the first race after a collision knocked out race leader Max Neukirchner of Suzuki Alstare on the final loop of the 23-lap race.

Neukrichner, who led the race from the start after earning the Superpole, went down after HANNspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa crashed trying to challenge him inside on the final corner. Checa remounted to finish in fifth but Neukrichner broke his left collarbone, knocking him out of the weekend’s races.

“I am more than disappointed. I could almost see the checkered flag when suddenly I was hit by Checa,” says Neukirchner. “I broke my collarbone but, to make matters worse, he was able to get back on his bike and score some points. My weekend had gone perfectly up to that moment. I had been consistently fast and I had felt very comfortable on the bike. There was no problem for me leading the race, the only problem all weekend was what happened in the last corner.”

Lanzi was able to benefit from the collision, but not without having to pass Bayliss of Ducati Xerox on the final lap.

“For me it’s a fantastic result,” says Lanzi. “We worked very well throughout the weekend to get this result. The team is a new one in World Superbikes this year and it’s difficult for us. It was a hard-fought race today, Troy is a world champion and is very fast but you need a bit of good luck in racing and I certainly had it today.”

Troy Corser of Yamaha Motor Italia finished behind Bayliss for the third podium spot.

In the second race, Bayliss and Checa traded the lead for the first eleven laps. On the twelfth lap, Checa’s Honda CBR1000RR started having electrical problems, allowing Yamaha Motor Italia’s Haga to slip through for the lead. Haga held off Bayliss for the rest of the race for his first win of the year, while Checa finished third.Noriyuka Haga (41) fends off Troy Bayliss (21) to win race two in Valencia.

“It was a fast race and unlike the first I actually had a good feeling with the bike,” says Haga. “I lost the front and crashed with my first bike in race one and had to use my second bike for this one. Honestly today I was quite surprised for the win.”

With his two second-place finishes, Bayliss now has 128 points on the year, 48 points ahead of Suzuki Alstare’s Fonsi Nieto who finished fourth in race one and tenth in race two at Valencia.

“I thought I was going to finish in fourth and couldn't believe what then happened with Neukirchner and Checa on the last lap but that's racing I guess and gave me a second place finish,” says Bayliss, describing the first race. “In race two, I had a good battle with Nori (Haga). At one point I was in a position to fight for the win but in the end Hagi was in control. Anyway, I was hoping for good points as points make prizes and so we move on to the next round in a strong position."

The next stop in the World Superbike championships is in the Netherlands at Assen.