WSBK: 2010 Phillip Island results

Photo finish decides opening race

By Motorcycle.com Staff, Mar. 01, 2010
The 2010 World Superbike Championship is off to a thrilling start at Australia's Phillip Island Circuit with the opening race decided by a photo finish.

Suzuki Alstare's Leon Haslam nosed past Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio in Race One by a 0.004 margin, the closest ever finish to a WSBK race. The finish was so close, Fabrizio was initially named the winner.

The victory was Haslam's first WSBK win,

“It's not sunk in just yet, especially as it was such a close finish and not knowing if I had won for a while. That definitely added to the anticipation,” says Haslam. “I can't thank my team enough they have been solid since day one and to repay them with this is great. I'm a little speechless now. I changed my style towards the end and I rode as smoothly as possible. It worked, but it was close at the end.”

Leon Haslem leads the pack on his way to victory.
Fabrizio and Haga finished on the podium in Race One.

Officially, Haslam led every lap after starting on the pole, but the Ducati Xerox pair of Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga remained close behind him through the entire 22-lap race.

The three riders were well ahead of the rest of the pack. Haga finished 0.769 seconds behind Haslam for third place, but nearly ten seconds ahead of fourth-place finisher Jonathan Rea of Hannspree Ten Kate Honda. Haga's result was impressive considering the high-speed crash he suffered in the morning warm-up. Entering the first corner at 150 mph, Haga was thrown from his bike after being hit by Ruben Xaus. The BMW rider was forced to withdraw from both races after the crash, his fourth of the weekend. Haga suffered some bruising but was given clearance to race, while his team scrambled to repair his Ducati 1098R.

“My result in Race 1 was really good as far as I’m concerned as I had had a crash during the warm-up and suffered from a bit of arm-pump during the race,” says Haga. “I was confident that I could make a good start from 10th position and I did so and then I tried to keep up with Michel and Leon but my arm led me to make a few small mistakes.”

Race Two was not nearly as dramatic as the first one, though it still had the top four racers finishing within a second of each other. Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa took the win with a final-lap pass while Haslam edged out Fabrizio once more to claim second. Haslam's teammate Sylvain Guintoli just missed out on the final podium position.

“The plan was to start the second race well and we chose a softer tire,” says Checa. “We changed the bike and we improved in the braking points, so I could overtake people. When you are close to four other riders it is not easy to overtake and make it permanent but I passed in the right time and at the right places. This was one of the best races in my life, so thanks to my new team.”

After the first round of the 2010 season, it appears Ducati is once more a threat to win the constructor's title. Suzuki is also off to a strong start with both Haslam and Guintoli competitive. 

Max Biaggi finished fifth in Race One and eighth in Race Two for Aprilia Alitalia, while new teammate Leon Camier had a pair of 11th-place results. Both Aprilia riders were competitive but have room for improvement.

Despite Xaus' withdrawal, BMW is off to a better start to its second WSBK season with a pair of top ten finishes for Troy Corser.

Yamaha had a disappointing opening round as both factory riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland crashed out of the first race. The duo faired better in Race Two, finishing ninth and tenth respectively, but the team has some ground to make in the post-Spies era.

Despite a pair of top-six finishes from Rea, Honda also had a difficult weekend with the three other CBR1000RR riders finishing near the bottom of both races. Kawasaki faired even worse, with former MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen crashing out of both races. Roger Hayden finished last in Race Two for Pedercini Kawasaki, but he was the only one of four ZX-10R riders to finish the race.