Troy Corser has clinched the World Superbike Championship at today's Imola penultimate round after the second race was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions and for safety reasons.
With only 50 points to be had in next weekend's final round in France, Corser holds a 55 point lead over Honda's Chris Vermeulen, who won today's first race.
In the first race Corser finished a very close second to his nearest rival Vermeulen which took part on a drying track after earlier rain. Third went to Haga (Yamaha) ahead of James Toseland (Ducati).
Corser's team mate Yukio Kagayama slid off in the slippery conditions at the start of the race but remounted and heroically fought his way through the backmarkers to 15th place.
Just before the start of the second race, the heavens opened and deluged the 4.933 kilometre circuit. All the riders left the grid and then waited for 30 minutes before another course inspection was made. Corser, Regis Laconi (Ducati) and Chris Vermeulen went out in two course cars with the Clerk of the Course and found the conditions no better than before and after a short pause, the organisers decreed the race cancelled.
Troy Corser - Race 1: 2nd. Race 2: Cancelled.
"It's great to be World Champion, but I wished it hadn't happened this way. I wanted to win the title on the racetrack, but at least I am happy in the knowledge that the decision to cancel the second race was definitely the right one. The conditions were diabolical this afternoon and it was unbelievably dangerous out there as there was so much standing water on the track. If we had raced, I'm sure there would've been a lot of crashes for sure. It was the best decision for the safety of the riders without a doubt.
"The groundwork for our success started in our very first test back at the end of last year. Since then the whole team have worked hard and given me a wonderful package of a bike and the results have come. In the past few years, I never lost faith in my own ability and Francis Batta realised that and gave me a chance to prove that I could be Champion again. I want to thank them, the whole team and also all the hospitality staff who have looked after me during the year."
Yukio Kagayama - Race 1: 15th. Race 2: Cancelled:
"I crashed because the track was very slippery and it happened so quickly. I got back on the bike and carried on and tried my best to catch the riders in front and so maybe 15th was not so bad. But I am disappointed because I really felt that I could be on the podium today. I want to congratulate Troy on becoming the World Champion - he deserves it for sure. Also good job by the whole Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra team."
World Superbike Results:
Race 1: Vermeulen (Aus-Honda), 2 Troy Corser (Aus-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 3 Haga (J-Yamaha), 4 Toseland (GB-Ducati), 5 Martin (Aus-Petronas), 6 Walker (GB-Kawasaki), 7 Neukirchner (D-Honda), 8 Gimbert (F-Yamaha), 9 Laconi (F-Ducati), 10 Vizziello (I-Yamaha). 15 Yukio Kagayama ((Jap-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra).
Race 2: Cancelled.
Superbike Points: 1 Troy Corser (Aus-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 409, 2 Vermeulen 354, 3 Haga 255, 4 Toseland 228, 5 Laconi 221, 6 Yukio Kagayama (Jap-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra 212, 7 Walker 140, 8 Pitt 137, 9 Chili 125, 10 Lanzi 118.
Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Riccardo Chiarello mastered tricky conditions at Imola today and ran out the winner of the 13-lap race - though the result was in doubt until the last few metres.
Just before the warm-up lap, light rain began to fall and there was a flurry of activity on the grid as the mechanics struggled to change tyres and alter their suspension settings. Heavy rain fell as the riders began their first lap, but then it lessened after a few laps and later stopped completely.
For the majority of the race Chiarello and Polita (Suzuki) disputed the lead, trading places lap after lap. Chiarello led most of the race, but it was Polita who led on the approach to the final chicane on the last lap. But Chiarello was not to be undone after all his good work. He made a daring move up the inside and sneaked in front. Polita tried to come back at Chiarello, who had run a little wide in the chicane, but was unable to get past on the short run to the chequered flag and so had to make do with runner-up spot.
Riccardo Chiarello - 1st:
"On the grid we decided to change the suspension settings because of the wet conditions and we must have got it right! The conditions were very difficult and there was a lot of water on the track in the beginning of the race and it would've been very easy to make a mistake and crash, so I tried to ride safely. Then the rain stopped and after a while the track began to dry out.
"I knew that Polita was faster than me in the first part of the track but I was faster than him in the second part so I made sure I was very close to him on the last lap. Going into the final chicane, he braked very hard, but I braked harder and went inside him. I was in a bit hot but managed to keep ahead of him and take the chequered flag. It was a difficult race, but I am very, very happy."
Superstock 1000 Results: 1 Riccardo Chiarello (I-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 2 Polita (I-Suzuki), 3 Coxhell (Aus-Suzuki), 4 Dionisi (I-Suzuki), 5 Van Keymeulen (B-Yamaha), 6 Scassa (I-Yamaha),
Championship Points: 1 Van Keymeulen 138, 2 Sofuoglu 137, 3 Coxhell 125, 4 Roccoli 110, 5 Polita 110, 6 Riccardo Chiarello (I-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 107.
Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Xavi Simeon took a fighting fourth place in today's ninth round of the Superstock 600 European Championship at Imola.
Simeon had actually crossed the line in fifth place but third placed Davide Giugliano (Honda) was later disqualified for a technical infringement.
In the race, Simeon made a good start and was fourth away but was passed by Andrea Antonelli (Kawasaki). He then had a race-long battle with Antonelli to try and get back fourth place but, although he could catch the Kawasaki rider, he just could not pass him.
Frenchman Yoann Tiberio (Honda) was the runaway victor of the 10-lap race, though Maxime Berger (Honda) and Davide Giugliano (Honda) closed the gap in the closing stages.
Xavi Fores - 4th:
"I really enjoyed that race - even if I couldn't get past Antonelli. Lap after lap I could catch him, but my bike just did not have the acceleration to get past and make it stick. I was happy to be fourth at the start and then the big fight began. My bike worked very well and apart from a small lack of acceleration I had no problems. Everything else worked very well. I was very happy today because I think I lapped a second quicker than I had done in practice. Also, this is my first time at this track so I feel pretty content with what I achieved today. I was happy to finish fifth, but then even happier when I got to the track on Sunday morning to find that I had been promoted to fourth.
Superstock 600 Results: 1 Tiberio (F-Honda), 2 Berger (F-Honda), 3 Antonelli (I-Kawasaki), 4 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 5 Corti (I-Yamaha), 6 Napoleone (F-Kawasaki).
Championship Points: 1 Corti 179, 2 Tiberio 155, 3 Berger 105, 4 Canepa 85, 5 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 82, 6 Antonelli 79.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office