27 Feb 12 - WSBK Round 1: Phillip Island, Australia

MAX BIAGGI CONQUERS THE OPENING ROUND AT PHILLIP ISLAND

An amazing weekend with two spectacular races for Max Biaggi and the Aprilia Racing Team at Phillip Island. At the start of race 1 Max shot out from second position on the grid breathing down the tailpipes of Checa and Sykes. Aided by the good pace he showed during the test sessions, Max skillfully overtook the Kawasaki rider during the third lap, then putting a lap record on the boards at 1'31.785. Finally a crash by Checa saw Biaggi take victory by more than 7 seconds over his closest rival.

Race 2 was even more exciting and will be long remembered by the fans. Rocketing out well from the grid Max was involved in contact with Sykes on the first turn, a collision which moved the brake lever and prevented proper braking. Re-entering the track in last place and with an eight second disadvantage, the five time world champion laid down 22 breathtaking laps filled with duels, overtaking, fast laps and deadly cool concentration, coming back to second place and earning the provisional leadership in the 2012 World Championship.

The emotion came through clearly in Max's words: "After such a difficult winter this is extremely satisfying for me. I worked without sparing myself and during the testing here at Phillip Island we truly tried a lot of things and the results prove us right. The first weekend with my new Team puts us out front and I have to thank both my guys and Aprilia for that. Race 1 was great, and the second one maybe even better. After running off the track I only thought about focusing and giving my all, because coming back from last place is always risky. We succeeded. We're taking home two good results and now there is nothing left to do but keep the tension high to confirm our strength at Imola. I am leaving for Montecarlo so Monday I'll be home and I'll begin to prepare for the next round".

Eugene Laverty, who had a rough weekend, was in any case able to cross the finish line in Race 2 in eighth place after pulling out of the first. The two recent crashes left their mark, besides compromising the extremely important test sessions for a rider who is making his début on a new bike. The young Northern Irish rider is sizing up his RSV4 and feels confident for the next races.

"In the end, if we think about what has happened, I'm not disappointed. I would have been happy with two placings among the first 10. It's a shame that the bike went into neutral in the first race which forced me to run on. Race 2 was just as difficult due to my condition after the crashes, but all in all eight points can prove to be important for such a long and difficult championship"