World Superbike Magny Cours race report—Biaggi champion by half a point!
Max Biaggi crashes in wet Race One, setting stage for nail-biter Race Two where he finishes fifth to take second WSBK title; Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes comes close, finishes third in Race One and wins Race Two
Aprilia's Max Biaggi celebrates his second World Superbike Championship on the podium at the Nevers Circuit in Magny Cours, France.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes came oh-so-close to securing the WSBK title after trailing coming into Magny Cours by 30.5 points.
As we said on Saturday after Superpole final qualifying at the Magny Cours circuit in France, just because Aprilia’s Max Biaggi held a 30.5-point advantage heading into today’s two races didn’t mean that the Italian was a lock for the World Superbike Championship. And that premise proved prophetic today, as a damp Race One saw Biaggi crash out of the race on the third lap, with title rival Tom Sykes eventually finishing third to cut the points lead to 14.5 points, while BMW’s Marco Melandri kept his title hopes alive by finishing second behind winner Sylvain Guintoli, leaving him just four points behind Sykes.
This meant that Biaggi would have to finish at least fifth in Race Two if Sykes won. And the Kawasaki World Superbike rider was determined to make a maximum effort to force that scenario, as Sykes quickly took command at the start and pulled a lead that he only relinquished for a short time on the first lap at Magny Cours when Biaggi’s teammate Eugene Laverty managed to get past before Sykes quickly retook the lead. Biaggi was initially mired in ninth place, and with the top five starting to pull away, it was beginning to appear as if his title chances were starting to fade.
But some timely mistakes at Magny Cours by those in front of him managed to allow Biaggi to get within sight of fifth place, including Melandri spectacularly highsiding out of sixth spot on lap six, with Althea Racing Ducati’s Davide Giugliano forced to take evasive action. Then Melandri’s BMW teammate Leon Haslam ran off the track while in front of Biaggi, promoting the Italian to seventh spot, with the Althea Ducati pair of Giugliano and Carlos Checa just ahead. Biaggi used the superior power of his RSV4 superbike to squeeze past both Ducati riders and hold them off comfortably for his second WSBK title (and sixth World Championship, to go along with his four World 250cc Grand Prix titles).
“This is the fourth world championship out of six that I have won at the final race, I seem to like difficult challenges!,” said Biaggi after a thrilling Magny Cours final round of the World Superbike Championship. “The 2012 season went right down to the wire: we started well with a win at Phillip Island after totally renewing my team and we also had some difficult moments. We had to work hard to win the title, and maybe for this reason it’s even better. A big thanks to the team, Aprilia and the Gruppo Piaggio, from President Colaninno to every factory worker, because my success is the result of the work of a great Italian company. Thanks also to my family, my fiancée Eleonora and my two children, as well as Marino Laghi who is always present with me".
Sykes was disappointed to lose the World Superbike championship by so close a margin at Magny Cours, and he and the Kawasaki team will surely be looking back at the Monza round where he was only awarded half points for his victory due to the rain that forced the race to halted after only eight laps. “It’s difficult to accept that half a point separates us in a full season, but that’s all credit to World Superbike and how close it is,” reasoned Sykes. “Max did a great job, but for me and my season I’m very happy, everyone gave me a full package to do something with, and this weekend I was very strong. Overall we had a pole position, circuit record, two podiums…and I’d like to dedicate that to Joan Lascorz, I’ve had some help from him this weekend. To close 30 points on Biaggi was magical. Now we’re all signed and sealed for next year, hopefully we can deliver!”
World Superbike Magny Cours Race One results:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati
2. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
3. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
4. Maxime Berger (FRA)
5. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW
6. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW
7. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
8. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati
9. Claudio Corti (ITA) Kawasaki
10. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
DNF Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
World Superbike Magny Cours Race Two results:
1. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
3. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati
4. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
5. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
6. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati
7. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
8. Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia
9. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW
10. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
World Superbike Championship standings (after final round @ Magny Cours):
1. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 358
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 357.5
3. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 328.5
4. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati 287.5
5. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda 278.5
6. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 263.5
7. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 213.5
8. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 200
9. Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia 165.5
10. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati 143