“My first race win since 2003”
Team Suzuki Alstare rider Fonsi Nieto took his maiden World Superbike Championship victory in the second 18-lap race at the Losail circuit in Qatar yesterday.
Despite having to start from the third row of the grid, Fonsi stormed through
the field to take the lead with just just four laps remaining. Xaus and Biaggi attacked Fonsi to the end, but could not find any way past and Fonsi was able to take the chequered flag by three tenths of a second.
For Fonsi and his team mates, Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner, yesterday was a bit of a mixed day. Max led the majority of the first race, before finishing fifth. Fonsi finished seventh, with Yukio one place behind in eighth. The race was won by Troy Bayliss (Ducati), with Max Biaggi (Ducati) second and Troy Corser (Yamaha) third.
In race two, Yukio crashed out on the opening lap, when he and Carlos Checa collided. Yukio was taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone and will now almost certainly miss next week's race in Phillip Island. Max finished eighth, suffering the effects of a heavy cold and grip problems. Xaus finished runner-up to Fonsi, with Biaggi third.
Fonsi - Race 1: 7th, Race 2: 1st
“This is my first WSBK win and my first race win since Donington in 2003! Yes, It's been a long, long while. I've worked very hard in this championship and today I reaped the reward of all the hard work. Today my Suzuki Alstare bike was faster than the Ducatis, but I definitely raced with my mind today. I used the same bike, with the same set-up in both races, though I did have the traction control on a harder setting in the first race and the bike was not as comfortable to ride as it was in race two. There was only five degrees difference in temperature between the two races, but the bike felt different in both races! In the second race, I was able to conserve my bike and the tyres and finish strongly and that's why I won. I would like to thank all the people who had faith in me and have supported me these past years. And I'd like to thank Francis and Patricia Batta, the whole team and Suzuki for all their help.
I know there are people out there who didn't think I could be a winner, but today I proved them wrong!”
Max - Race 1: 5th, Race 2: 8th
“It was a really good feeling leading the first race for so long and I felt pretty comfortable doing it. I made a good start and led from the lights more or less and then I just kept my head down and found I was in the lead without too much of a problem. I have been suffering from some kind of a cold or something and, with about eight laps to go, I didn't feel in very good condition. At the same time, I started getting lots of slides and the two things together allowed some riders to pass me and I ended up 5th. In race two, I changed to a softer tyre, but the grip didn't feel so good. I made a little mistake on the brakes and I lost touch with the leaders and it was not possible to catch them again. All in all, it's not a bad start to the season, but it could've been better.”
Yukio - Race 1: 8th, Race 2: DNF
“In race one, I firstly suffered a problem with tyre chatter after seven laps and the grip level also went down. Later in the race, I had some vibration exiting the turns, so it was difficult to push very hard. I just kept going as fast as I could and tried to get the best result I could.”
On the opening lap of race two, Yukio and Carols Checa collided, with Yukio crashing out. He was taken to the medical centre for X-rays to determine if he had broken his left collarbone. The X-rays were inconclusive, so he was taken to the hospital for further investigation and treatment.