WSBK: Simoncelli Takes 3rd Place on Aprilia RSV4 Debut
Simoncelli impresses Aprilia on WSBK debut
The sun was shining and it was hot at Imola, where the stands at the Santerno circuit overflowed with spectators for Race 1 of the SBK. Haga was the victor, on his Ducati Factory, ahead of Max Biaggi on his RSV4, who finished with a time of 2:074, and the other Ducati driven by Fabrizio finishing in third place at 2:190.
Biaggi started off very well in sixth position and immediately took over the lead, making his selection right from the start; in fact, the only ones able to keep up with him were the Ducatis driven by Haga and Fabrizio, Spies and Rea, who checked out during the third lap, however, after a fall. Max continued to impose his rhythm, trying to break away from his competitors and he remained in the lead until the eighteenth lap when Haga managed to pass him at the Tosa curve, immediately pulling ahead and managing to maintain his position until he reached the chequered flag. Biaggi and Fabrizio stayed behind the Japanese driver and incited the public with their duel during the final two laps. The Ducati driver passed his fellow countryman during the second to last lap, but the RSV4 stayed with him until the final curve before the finish line when Max came up with an incredible breakaway, taking over Fabrizio and passing the finish line in second place, capturing a place on the podium for the fifth time this season, in addition to his Brno victory, sending his fans into a delirium.
The tenth lap ended with a slip for Marco Simoncelli during his first Superbike race. After a bad start that left him in eleventh place after the first lap, the Romagnolo driver was the protagonist of an excellent recovery, registering some excellent times as well, up until the tenth lap, when having finally conquered fifth place at the entry to the Piratella curve, he lost control of his front wheel and ended up in the gravel.
“It was a wonderful race,” said Biaggi, “from start to finish. I tried to set the pace, but the Ducati was faster along the second part of the track, which we still haven’t resolved. I’m very happy because we achieved great results here in Italy with our fans present. This is a circuit where we have already suffered a lot from the tests, but we did a great job with our technicians to improve the situation and as of this morning, the set-up of the RSV4 was already very good, even if things aren’t really perfect yet. We’ll try to improve for Race 2.”
WSBK Imola race two
The 67,000 hot and impassioned spectators present at the circuit were able to watch a splendid presentation of the Aprilia RSV4 which climbed atop the second tier of the podium with Max Biaggi in Race 1 and the third tier in Race 2 thanks to Marco Simoncelli.
As confirmation of the great progress achieved at the end of the season, this is the first time that the RSV4 brought both of its drivers to the podium during the two separate races.
The two Ducati Factory motorcycles took off like rockets followed by Max Biaggi’s RSV4, with Byrne, Rea, Simoncelli and Spies immediately behind them. The Ducatis set the pace and Biaggi had difficulty sticking with them until halfway through the race when he began to lose ground because of some errors. Simoncelli took advantage of the situation and once he managed to shake his competitors, he was able to catch up with Biaggi halfway through the race, passing him with the precision of a tightrope walker once he entered the last chicane. At this point an Aprilia battle began for third place, with Simoncelli giving his all and Biaggi behind, trying to catch up to him. In the end, the Romagnolo driver won out and crossed the finish line nine-tenths of a second ahead of the Roman driver securing his position on the third tier of the podium, just behind Fabrizio and Haga, during his debut in the reigning class of production derived bikes.
“When I took off, I immediately tried to stay with the Ducatis, which immediately set the pace,” declared Biaggi, “so in order to recover about halfway through the race I made two mistakes that resulted in me losing a great deal of the advantage I had accumulated, so in order to do better, I did worse. I wasn’t expecting Simoncelli to enter and in order to not hit the wall or Spies, we had to do some manoeuvring to stay up. In any case, it was a very positive week-end, I would have never hoped to have recovered so many points on Rea in the world championships, considering he was always so fast both in the test runs and the trials. I would also like to compliment Simoncelli who was very good, especially in Race 2.”
“It was a wonderful and very intense week,” said Simoncelli, “it was just Monday evening that I decided to participate in this SBK race and the results were excellent. When I arrived here at Imola, my objective was to enter the Top 5 in Race 1, which I managed to do until the fall at the Tosa. In Race 2 I started off much better and I set a good pace until catching up with Biaggi. I didn’t want to make the pass I did at the Variante Bassa, but I ended up long in the straightaway and in order to not end up in the gravel I took the chicane the same way and it ended up fine. I must thank my Superbike team, that 250cc and Aprilia, for the help they provided and the great opportunity that they gave me.”