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Laverty at the Double as Biaggi Loses Chance of First 2011 Race Win

Leon Haslam leads Marco Melandri during race 1 at Monza. Photo by PirelliPirelli returned to its home circuit for Round 4 of the World Superbike Championship race at Monza, just a half hour from its world headquarters with a special treat: a bi-compound qualifying tire identified by tri-colored stripes and “150th Italy” label to commemorate Italy’s national unity. Superpole was thus more memorable when Biaggi (Aprilia) rode around the Monza circuit on his Diablo Superbike tires with the fastest average speed (204.4 km/h or 127 mph) in WSBK history, setting also a new track record of 1’41.745. A crowd of 116,500 watched Eugene Laverty win both 18-lap races in sun-kissed conditions. Laverty was a clear winner in race one, upsetting the pre-race form that had Max Biaggi down as a strong favorite for a double race victory.

Pirelli furnished a total of 4600 tires comprised of 3 front and 2 rear bi-compound tires for the SBK class and 3 front and 3 rear tires for SSP, with the premier class requiring bi-compound rear solutions to manage Monza’s high speed turns.  Unfortunately, of the two rear tire solutions based on previous years’ data, the softer (A) tire was not suitable to perform entire race with the 40-45°C (104° – 113°  F) asphalt temperatures encountered this race weekend and were thus not utilized during either race.

Superbike Race 1 saw 10 riders on the mid-soft (SC2) reference tire, 6 on the soft (SC1), and 4 on the newer mid-soft.  In a race filled with numerous and exciting passes, it was a three-manufacturer podium with Yamaha, Aprilia and BMW, seeing even the fastest lap go to Fabrizio on his Suzuki (1'43.275).

“That was a great race, definitely not one of the easiest but I enjoyed it nonetheless,” said Race 1 winner Eugene Laverty. “I just kept pushing to the top and my first win couldn’t have come at a better place, the Yamaha team is based at Lesmo and everyone’s here to celebrate!”

The second SBK race and the Supersport race were dominated by Yamaha, with incredible performances from Laverty, Melandri, Davies and Scass. Both of the Yamaha Superbikes topped 332.5 km/h on the main straight, just a fraction off Biaggi’s (Aprilia) top speed in Superpole. Although Ducati had difficulty in Superbike, they still had their day in the Stk1000 with a track record for Giugliano, a feat also accomplished by Yamaha in the Stk600 class.

During Race 2 Biaggi was on for the win at his home track but in making a misjudgment and cutting the first chicane he did not follow the rules about keeping to a certain line and re-entering the track only at permitted areas. For this infringement he was given a ride through penalty. His hopes of the win were over after losing significant amounts of time because of his ride-through, and he ended up eighth.

Biaggi’s misfortune allowed the two Yamaha World Superbike riders Marco Melandri and Laverty to fight it out right to the flag, with Laverty winning and Melandri second after an audacious pass into the Parabolica. Michel Fabrizio was third in race two, on his Alstare Suzuki. World Championship leader Carlos Checa also had a dramatic day, as he scored points in each race, but was lucky to finish the second as he went from sixth to tenth when his machine developed a sudden technical problems and a trail of blue smoke was visible from its exhaust. He had been ninth in race one.

“It’s been a very tough weekend for me, we’ve been trying to find a good set-up to make the bike stable,” said Race 2 second-place finisher Marco Melandri. “In the second race we made a big step further but the bike was very nervous at the end so I couldn’t race for the win. I tried to do my best but at the last corner I struggled with the gearbox, the rear tire locked and I lost.”

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