Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi is the 2010 World Superbike champion, with the 39-year-old Roman becoming the oldest winner of the championship with a fifth place finish in the second race of the penultimate round in Imola, Italy. Team Alstare Suzuki’s Leon Haslam was the only rider with a mathematical chance to unseat the Italian, but the odds were long. Haslam, who entered the second race with a 52-point deficit, retired halfway through, handing the title to Biaggi, regardless of where he finished. Though he ran as high as second, he eventually slid three places to finish fifth.
The World Superbike title is the first rider’s championship for Aprilia, the company’s RSV4 having been the class of the field. Biaggi has nine wins, two seconds, and two thirds. Ducati, which is 41 points behind Aprilia going into the final race, has only six wins this year, including three by Althea Racing Ducati’s Carlos Checa.
“This is a grand day,” Biaggi in a team press release. “A day which I have greatly desired. I've often felt in past years like I hadn't been placed in the proper conditions to be able to express my worth and to achieve the results that I know I deserve. This is one of the reasons that, at a certain point in my career, I chose this world, the SBK championship, and this is why I wanted to surround myself with the right people for this adventure—because racing isn't just about speed, tires and an engine. It is also about joy and having fun and with these guys, with this team, I feel at home. I want to thank everyone: my team, Aprilia, Piaggio Group, the chairman.
“It has not been an easy season. Many riders have won races and if they had been just a bit more consistent, they would have been able to be more troublesome for us. The greatest moments were the double victories at Monza and Misano. It is something very special to win in front of my fans. But it isn't over yet—there is still one goal left—to ride my RSV4 to the manufacturer title. We'll talk again in a week and it would be truly fantastic to close out this wonderful season with another championship.”
Both races in Imola were won by Checa. The Spaniard hadn’t won a race since the second leg of the opening round at Phillip Island and hadn’t swept both races on the weekend since his double victory at Miller Motorsports Park in June of 2008.
But today he was at his best. Checa started slowly in both races before making his way to the front. Of the two, the second race was easier. His first lap was better and he got to the front quicker. Checa took over the lead from pole-sitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) on the sixth of 21 laps, then opened up a cushion of 4.5 seconds four laps later. Never threatened, Checa won by 2.129 seconds. Ducati Xerox’s Nori Haga took second from Sykes on the 13th lap, with Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow taking the final podium spot three laps later. Sykes was fourth, Biaggi fifth.
Sykes had also sped away from the start of the first race, holding it until the ninth lap when Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati) took the lead. Checa was eighth on the first lap, but by the ninth lap was up to third, then second on lap 12. Four laps later he made the pass for the lead.
Three laps from the end Haslam passed Lanzi for second and began to hound Checa. The Brit was determined to win, and keep his slim title hopes alive, but he made a fatal mistake on the final lap. Haslam ran wide trying to pass Checa and dropped from second to fifth.
That put Lanzi into second and Haga third, the pair just over a second back and separated by three-tenths. Jakub Smrz was fourth and Haslam fifth. Biaggi had an off race, finishing 11th.
World Superbike Monza Race One:
1. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
2. Lorenzo Lanzi (ITA) Ducati
3. Nori Haga (JPN) Ducati
4. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Aprilia
5. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki
6. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
7. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati
8. Shane Byrne (GBR) Ducati
9. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Suzuki
10. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
World Superbike Monza Race Two:
1. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
2. Nori Haga (JPN) Ducati
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
4. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
5. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
6. Shane Byrne (GBR) Ducati
7. Lorenzo Lanzi (ITA) Ducati
8. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Suzuki
9. Ruben Xaus (SPA) BMW
10. Luca Scassa (ITA) Ducati