As Toseland regains second place overall
Alex Barros (Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR) scored his first SBK race win the hard way after a superb run from eighth on lap one of the opening 21-lap contest and he was only 1.413 seconds from the win in race two, after an even worse start
from the second row of the grid. James Toseland (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was a lonely second in the first race and after scoring a fifth in race two, he promoted himself back to second overall, by two points, from Noriyuki Haga.
The Riders' Championship win was decided in favour of Troy Bayliss at Imola, but the Manufacturers' Championship will not be awarded until the outcome of the Magny-Cours season finale in known.
Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was eighth on two occasions, while Pierfrancesco Chili (DFX Treme Honda CBR1000RR) finished each race, but was out of the points each time, finishing 16th and 18th. Michel Fabrizio (DFX Treme Honda CBR1000RR) retired because of technical problems in each race.
Race one was the sole property of Barros, who came through from a careful first lap to score his first ever win in World Superbike, having been fast in regular qualifying, yet only eighth in Superpole. He was the quickest rider over a single in race one, setting a new lap record of 1m 50.266s and made his advantage in pace and set-up count with a clear victory over the only rider who could live with his charge for a time, James Toseland. Andrew Pitt was third. Karl Muggeridge went eighth (after finishing Superpole 13th).
In race two Barros was arguably even more impressive than in race one, and with more two or three more laps would have caught and passed eventual winner Troy Bayliss. Toseland had to race his spare machine in race two, after experiencing some problems with the electronics on his new machine in race one. Third place went to Yukio Kagayama, with Toseland fifth, but ahead of his main rival Haga.
Toseland moves from third to second overall after Imola, with Bayliss on 393 points, Toseland 295, Haga 293 and Pitt 239. Barros is now fifth, with 231 points, while Muggeridge is 12th on 113, only four points behind the non-scoring Fabrizio.
Toseland's aim now that the championship win has become a mathematical impossibility is to finish second overall, and he made some progress at Imola, if not quite as much as he wanted.
"I didn't get a perfect start in race one but it was OK," said Toseland. "In the second one we used the spare bike and it started off OK but then the clutch released and started to grab and I went back to eighth or ninth and lost a lot of time. I wanted to pull some good points back to Haga today, not just a couple. The battle for me after race one, when Bayliss took the title, was for second in the championship, and I beat Haga in both races. I need to go to Magny-Cours now and make sure I finish the job to be runner-up in this championship."
Barros had to work hard for his win and second place and had to avoid some early problems in race one. "In the first race I was held up by two crashes," said Barros. "So I did not get away with the leaders. I really had to try hard to avoid Xaus, and then I just got my head down to get with the leaders. I knew that the last ten laps would be critical for the tyres so it was good that I could set fast lap times all the way through and I could go away from the rest of the leaders."
Muggeridge had an eventful raceday, with niggling problems getting in the way of a better pair of results. "I had a better ride in race two, and a better start," said Muggeridge at the end of raceday, "but I got held up by Neukirchner, and he held me up for ages. Then Corser as well. It meant I lost the small gap I had back from James, which I knew I could have bridged. I had a very bad start in race one - 19th at the beginning, because someone knocked me off the track. We made the bike better in race two, and we were close, but not quite there."
Chili found his physical condition once more the main drawback to his race challenges. "It was very hard work for me," said Chili. "I am still not back to full fitness after my recent crashes and that was my main problem today. In race two it was even worse but I wanted to finish both my home races."
Fabrizio was disconsolate at his misfortunes, but looks to Magny-Cours to finish his rookie SBK season on a high. "The bike just stopped in the first race," said Fabrizio. "In race two the engine temperature started to go up so I decided to come in, just in case something worse happened."
The WSS and SBK series now goes Magny-Cours for the final round of the year, between October 6 and October 8.
Press Release HRC