Watching the opening round of World Superbike today leaves you wanting more. Both races at Phillip Island were thrillers. The season promises to be a wide-open affair with any of a number or riders challenging for the championship.
Leon Haslam broke through to score his first victory in World Superbike in a photo finish over Michel Fabrizio. The 2010 Suzuki GSX-R1000, with its new under the seat fuel tanks, seems to handle better than last year’s model. Haslam’s teammate Sylvain Guintoli led for much of the second race and the Suzuki’s ran one-two. It bodes well for Suzuki making a solid comeback in the championship.
The factory Ducati squad of Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga looked solid as usual, but the big surprise of the weekend was Spaniard Carlos Checa making what he called his best come-from-behind charge ever to win race two on the privateer Althea Ducati. Not a bad outing for the 37-year-old former GP winner.
Chris Vermeulen did an admirable job on the factory Kawasaki until crashing hard in the second race. I was surprised not to see air barriers lining the area where Vermeulen went down. He went into the wall at a pretty high rate of speed and hit a stack of car tires. Hopefully he’s not hurt too badly and will be ready for the next round a month away in Portugal.
The only downside for American fans was the lackluster performance turned in by Roger Lee Hayden. Hayden scored 18th and 19th in the two legs, and was the last rider running in each race. Not a great 2010 debut for the rider who scored a top-10 MotoGP finish less than three years ago.