It didn’t take long for a promising build up in round 11 of the World Superbike title at Nurburgring in Germany to turn sour for Australia’s Troy Corser.
The Aussie dual world champion was caught up in the collateral damage of a huge highside by championship contender Leon Haslam in race one overnight, which forced him to retire from the restart and then labour through race two with an injured elbow.
The injury was a bitter blow for Corser, who felt he would have been on the podium after being on the pace from the opening practice session on Friday afternoon.
The two 20-lap races were won by Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati), while Haslam – also labouring with injuries to his thumb and knee after his crash – still managed to trim Max Biaggi’s lead to 58 points with two rounds still remaining.
“I went down on my elbow pretty hard in the crash,” said Corser. “But I felt I was able to go out for race two despite the pain. Everything felt pretty good for the first 10 laps, but after that the pain got worse and I had issues with the feeling in my arm.
“So I decided to settle for my position and just bring the bike home. I didn’t want to risk further injury by challenging the riders in front. Of course I am disappointed because I am sure under normal circumstances I would have been on the podium. But we are looking forward to the next race now in a positive manner.”
From the race one restart, Rea took proceedings into his own hand, leading the whole way to claim his fourth win of the year ahead of Carlos Checa (Ducati) and Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), the latter having just been announced as a Yamaha MotoGP rider in 2011.
Haga was chasing Rea hard early, but crashed on lap eight to join a star-studded group of riders who also failed to finish, including Corser, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati), James Toseland (Yamaha) and Max Neukirchner (Honda).
Haga’s race two response was emphatic, with the wily Japanese veteran still proving that he hasn’t lost all his aura by punching out a three-second victory over Rea, with Haslam getting the nod in a close battle for third against Crutchlow, Biaggi and Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli. Checa led the opening few laps before crashing.
“First of all I want to say how happy I am to be back up here,” said Haga. “After the race one crash I went straight back to the garage in the hope that my technicians could adjust the bike so that I could continue but unfortunately there was too much damage to the mufflers and I had to stop there.
“We made some modifications to the front suspension and the bike behaved a lot better in race two. I maintained a strong pace for the entire race and was able to get the job done! I’m sorry for Carlos because it’s always great to battle against him. Now I’d like to repeat this great result at Imola, Ducati’s home track.”
Haga and his Italian teammate Fabrizio are currently without jobs in 2011 following the recent annoucment that Ducati is pulling its factory effort out of the WSBK title.
Meanwhile, Biaggi, who started from pole position, was solid if unspectacular with his fifth and fifth places at Nurburgring, but he had to do it alone after teammate Leon Camier fell and broke his scaphoid in Friday practice.
Biaggi is still on track to cinch the championship in front of his home fans at Imola on 24-26 September.
In World Supersport, a close race at the front saw Eugene Laverty cross the finish line only 0.058secs ahead of fellow Honda rider Gino Rea – who was then disqualified because of a technical infraction with his machine.
Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) was elevated to second ahead of Australia’s Broc Parkes (Kawasaki), the latter making his first appearance in a fill-in role for the injured Joan Lascorz.
“I was pretty happy with fourth, so to then get third was great for the team and myself in my first ride,” Parkes commented. “The first part of my race wasn’t real good. I tried to go with the top two guys and had a couple of moments on the first and second lap.
“I didn’t quite have the pace and got passed by a couple of guys, until I got into a bit of a rhythm. I just lacked a little bit of confidence with the front and in the early laps I did not want to throw it down the road. I tried to learn a little bit from the other guys, and I think we are all happy with the result.”
Sofuoglu leads the championship fight by 12 points over Laverty.