The 2010 World Superbike series enters into the penultimate round this weekend at Imola, and the race for the top is beginning to get interesting. Leon Haslam has slowly chipped away at Max Biaggi's lead, and is now within 58 points of the season leader.
Biaggi looked like he was running away with the title after a series of double victories, but four consecutive races without podium finishes has allowed Haslam to move back into striking distance. Biaggi doesn't need race wins at Imola, but he may have to find the podium if he wants to keep Haslam at Bay.
If Biaggi can finish ahead of Haslam in both races at Imola, he'll be able to clinch the WSB title this weekend.
"As I already said, at Imola I will be a reckless book keeper. I'll battle without ever holding back but, at the same time, always bearing in mind the rankings situation and the importance of every single point. Experience teaches me that, to win the World Championship, I need to be constantly focused, never leaving anything to chance,” said Biaggi. “This is why, even more than the other weekends, it will be so important to find the best setup right from the first practice. Imola is a track with a few too many bumps, so we'll have to work hard to stay in the positions that count."
Haslam needs to find the top of the podium this weekend, but he can't be reckless. A DNF would give Jonathan Rea the opportunity to slide into second place. Rea has four race wins this season, one more than Haslam, and is coming off of a 1-2 result in Germany. Rea may not be able to catch Biaggi, but he is definitely a threat to second place.
The action in the Supersport division is even tighter. With just two races left, Kenan Sofuoglu and Eugene Laverty will be fighting for all available points this weekend to get the advantage in the championship round.
Sofuoglu has a 12 point advantage going into the event at Imola, but that could be wiped clean in just one race. Third place rider Joan Lascroz was in the battle for the championship, but an injury that put him on the sidelines sees his third place spot in peril. If Chaz Davies can rack up 31 points in the next two races, he'll complete the podium for the 2010 World Supersport Championships.
For most of this year, Parkalgar Honda has been toying with the idea of moving up to the World Superbike level. Their most successful rider, Eugene Laverty, will be taking the step up to the World Superbike level, but Parkalgar Honda has just reaffirmed their commitment to the Supersport division next year.
The second race of the AMA Superbike was much like the first. Tommy Hayden and Josh Hayes broke away from the pack to engage in a two way battle for the race win. The two swapped the top spot multiple times throughout the race, but in the end, Josh Hayes found himself at the top of the podium.
Hayes won both races in New Jersey, and gave himself some breathing room as the AMA Superbike heads into the final round.
John Hopkins was able to hold onto third place, after battling upfront with Blake Young, Brett McCormick, and Jake Zemke. Ben Bostrom was also in the fight for third place, but crashed out early on in the race, causing the red flag to be thrown.
Young finished fourth behind Hopkins, followed by Young.
The final round of the AMA Superbike will be on September 24-26. Hayes has extended his lead to 22 points over Hayden. With only 50 points left up for grabs, that lead may be insurmountable.
AMA Superbike – New Jersey – Race 2 Results
1. Josh Hayes (Yam)2. Tommy Hayden (Suz) +0.3243. John Hopkins (Suz)4. Blake Young (Suz)5. Brett McCormick (Suz)6. Jake Zemke (Suz)7. Geoff May (Buell)8. Taylor Knapp (Suz)9. Chris Ulrich (Suz)10. Shane Narbonne (Suz)
After a heart breaking loss in the first race of the AMA Superbike at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Tommy Hayden is out for revenge. Hayden had just passed Josh Hayes on the final lap of race 1 when the red flags came down, ending the race, and giving Hayes the race win. The incident gives Hayes a 16 point lead over Hayden, who is running out of time to retake the lead in the AMA Superbike series.
Hayden and Hayes are sure to be near the top at the end of today's race, but don't count out Martin Cardenas, who has been consistently face this weekend at NJMP.
The riders are lining up on the grid. Tommy Hayden, is followed by Ben Bostrom, John Hopkins, and Josh Hayes. The second row is made up of Jake Zemke, Chris Peris, Larry Pegram, and Geoff May.
Just a few minutes until race time.
And they're off.
Tommy Hayden gets a good start off the line, and is able to stay in front of the pack during lap one.
Lap 2: Ben Bostrom and John Hopkins have both dropped down out of the front, as Josh Hayes and Blake Young make moves to join Hayden at the front.
Lap 3: Hayes passes up another rider, and is now .02 seconds behind Hayden. The Superbike series is all about these two riders, and it looks like we're headed for a showdown.
Hayes has taken the lead. Hayes is followed by Hayden and Zemke. Hopkins, Young, and Bostrom are all close behind.
Lap 4: Hayes, Hayden, and Zemke gain a little space from the rest of the pack.
Lap 5: The top three riders continue to separate from the rest of the pack. Hayes and Hayden are both lapping in the low 1'21's.
The race has been red flagged as Ben Bostrom takes a fall on the 5th lap.
The race is restarted. Tommy Hayden has retaken the lead from Hayes, who has fallen to third behind Zemke.
Lap 7: The restart has bunched all the riders toward the top again. The top five riders are all within one second of one another. Hayden, Zemke, Hayes, Young, Hopkins.
Lap 8: Less than a tenth of a second separates the top three riders, who are all lapping in the 1'21's.
Lap 9: Hayes makes a spectacular move to overtake both Zemke and Hayden.
Lap 10: Hayes and Hayden have swapped the top spot four times so far. Hayes leads at the end of lap ten, beating his rival by .33 seconds.
Lap 12: Hayes and Hayden are beginning to separate again. The two title contenders are separated by .2 seconds. Jake Zemke and Blake Young are battling it out for third.
Lap 14: The superbike race at NJMP is turning into a two man show. Hayden is right on Hayes' tail as the two speed around the track. Zemke still holds the advantage over Young.
Lap 16: Young makes a pass to overtake Hopkins for third place. Hayden looks like he is biding his time for a late race pass on Hayes.
Lap 17: Hayes has a .2 second lead over Hayden. Both riders are consistnently lapping below 1'22.
Lap 18: Hayden makes his move and overtakes Hayes. The two riders are neck and neck at the front.
Lap 19: Zemke goes wide and gets passed up by Young, Hopkins, and McCormic.
Lap 20: Hayden is holding onto the lead by the smallest of margins. Hayden has a .04 second lead. Young and the rest of the pack are four seconds behind of the two leaders.
Lap 21: Hayden Hayes, Hayes Hayden, Hayes retakes the lead on the 21st lap.
FINAL LAP: As we enter the final lap, Hayes holdes onto the lead by just .078 seconds.
Hayden couldn't get back in front of Hayes on the last lap. Hayes wins the second race for the AMA Superbike in New Jersey, giving himself a perfect weekend. The two will battle it out for the final batch of points in Alabama in two weeks.
John Hopkins was able to hold off Blake Young for third.
Race Results: Hayes / Hayden / Hopkins / Young / McCormick / Zemke / May / Knapp
All About Bikes will have a full race report shortly.
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