World Superbike Championship: Home boy Biaggi snatches first title
Max Biaggi wrapped up his maiden World Superbike Championship title after nearest rival Leon Haslam retired from yesterday's second race at Imola.
Biaggi entered the weekend with a 58-point lead in the championship with only 100 left to play for, and Haslam's DNF ensured the Italian left his home round with an unassailable 63-point advantage heading into the final round in France next week.
The 39-year-old Aprilia Alitalia rider was running ahead of Haslam at the time of the Briton's retirement with an engine failure in the second race, leaving Biaggi to cruise to fifth place and secure his status as the first ever Italian WSBK champion.
While Biaggi's has been the story of the season, the day belonged to Spain's Carlos Checa, who claimed victory in both races on the weekend he penned a new two-year contract with Althea Racing Ducati.
The wins were Checa's first since the opening round of the season in Australia back in February, and lift him to fourth place in the riders' standings.
Checa was forced to fight for his first win of the day, coming under pressure from Haslam in the closing laps, but the Briton ran wide at Rivazza on the final lap and could only manage fifth.
Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati) finish second while Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) completed the podium in third.
Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Aprilia) snatched fourth from Haslam while surprise pole-sitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) came home in sixth.
Meanwhile, Eugene Laverty trails World Supersport series leader Kenan Sofuoghue by 16 points after coming home third in Saturday’s race at Imola.
The Toomebridge rider and Sofuoghue were competing for the lead when they collided on the final lap. On the restart Laverty took third behind Sofuoghue.
Ulsterman Jonathan Rea missed the Superbike races after suffering minor fractures in a practice crash while Ian Lowry came in 17th and 16th in Italy.