Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) and Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) shared the wins in the IDS Italian Round of the HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in front of a record crowd of 112,000 spectators.
Race 1: The first-ever win for a German rider in World Superbike history came at the end of a sprint finish to the line with Haga, just 0.058 seconds behind at the flag. The final podium place went to championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) after a late attack by Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare), who finished fourth despite a couple of errors at the chicane. Max Biaggi (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati) recovered from ninth on the grid to finish fifth. The first Honda to the line was the Hannspree Ten Kate version of Ryuichi Kiyonari in sixth, ahead of Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki Alstare) and Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who lost time at the start after a clash with Nieto. The Spanish rider was relegated to the back of the field but recovered to finish eighth.
Max Neukirchner: "It's the first win by a German rider in World Superbike and I'm really happy about that. My team did a great job this weekend. Our engine for sure is very fast, Suzuki have done a lot of development work on it. I felt the pressure all the way through the race, but once Yukio made a little mistake, I thought ‘great! Now I can try and do it alone!"
Noriyuki Haga: "I tried so many times to push but it was difficult to pass Max, but anyway I really enjoyed the race. It was very close but in the straights it seems like my engine is a 250 and Max has 1200! We will have to try and look for some more horses in race 2!"
Troy Bayliss: "I was just missing a little bit of feel there, also I was maybe missing a little bit of jump in the gearing out of the slow corners but I can't take it away from these guys, and in the end I was happy to take third position and increase my points lead".
Race 2: Haga took the win over Neukirchner in the second race rematch, which saw a three-rider sprint for the line. This time the gap between the two was even smaller, 0.009 seconds, the fifth closest finish in the history of Superbike. But today's two winners were almost edged out at the end by an extraordinary Kiyonari (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) who was in front as they braked for the final entry into the Parabolica. Fourth place went to Nieto (Suzuki Alstare), who was also up at the front for much of the race. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) brought the first Ducati home in fifth place after a good recovery, ahead of Karl Muggeridge (DF Racing Honda) and Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati). A engine problem brought an end to the race of Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) while the Australian was lying third. Both Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Biaggi (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati) retired, the Italian after a contact with Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Ducati), in which he picked up a suspected fractured little finger and a cut on the ring finger of his left hand.
Noriyuki Haga: "Actually I couldn't change anything for the engine but I just made a few changes to the suspension and that was better than the first race for the feeling. On that last lap I was thinking about what I had to do to win, my head was totally blank but I arrived at the line and couldn't believe the gap, 0.009 seconds. Monza is special for me, here is our home track and I have been thinking for all last week that I must win. During the weekend I couldn't find the right feeling but yesterday my engineer and suspension engineer made a good combination and I was able to enjoy the riding".
Max Neukirchner: "I am sure Nori changed something between the two races and he did it really well because he was really quick in the corners. OK, I was a little bit faster on the straights, but I'm happy to be on the podium again, it's been a great weekend".
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I am very happy with my results but thinking back I think I missed some chances. I thought it was possible to win and I tried everything on that final lap, but unfortunately I ran wide on the exit of the Parabolica and that stopped me from winning because Haga had the better line".