In the Malaysian World Superbike round Max Biaggi, with a race strategy worthy of a multiple world champion, took third place astride his Aprilia RSV4 RF. It was an extraordinary result taken in Race 1 at his second wild card of the season, three years after retiring from racing and at 44 years of age. Begun as an exciting and impossible challenge with his participation in the Misano race, Biaggi’s return astride his Aprilia has now been solidified with an exceptional result, his 71st SBK podium.
Max, who started from the second row thanks to his excellent performance in the qualifiers, battled with the official Aprilia riders for fourth place in the first part of the race. After overcoming Haslam and Torres, Biaggi focused on pushing hard, maintaining a fast and consistent pace which allowed him to look after his tyres and, above all, make a brilliant comeback against Sykes who had begun to drop back and lose contact with Rea and Davies. After an impressive progression it was in the final, exciting lap that Biaggi overtook the Brit, taking third place and stepping onto the podium for the first time since Portimão in 2012, the last full season of his career.
Having trouble managing their tyres, Torres and Haslam finished Race 1 far from the podium after having been protagonists at the beginning of the race on fresh tyres. The Aprilia Racing – Red Devils riders finished seventh (Haslam) and tenth (Torres).
In Race 2, with Biaggi crashing out due to contact with Sykes after an excellent start that had placed him in the lead at the first turn, it was Jordi Torres who held the Aprilia colours high with a third place finish. The Spaniard’s second podium of the season can at the end of an extremely consistent race where he broke away from the group and managed his placement behind Davies and Rea. Haslam was a bit behind again, finishing in seventh with tyre management troubles.
Max Biaggi: “The podium is an incredible result. It is a challenge overcome, the challenge of raising the bar to something that no one had ever done before. My race pace was consistent. Rea, Davies and Sykes pulled away at the front straight away. I tried to find my pace without destroying the tyre by overheating it. It wasn’t easy because at the same time you have to push. After overtaking my team mates I began to focus on Sykes who was getting closer and closer. I managed to catch him up and overtake him right at the last lap. I’m super happy. This is the result I was dreaming of, a real cherry on top and the best I could have hoped to achieve. The crash in Race 2 doesn’t take anything away from my satisfaction. Now that the weekend is over I can reveal that my crash during the tests last week “gave” me a left shoulder dislocation and an injury that required stitches on my right ankle. It was mainly the shoulder that bothered me, especially in the more flowing parts of the track. But we gritted our teeth and everything went brilliantly – just one more reason to rush into a happy holiday break.”
Jordi Torres: “First of all I would like to thank my team. Between Race 1 and Race 2 the guys did an incredible job, changing the bike, working on the setup and the electronic adjustment, particularly on the engine brake. This let me ride much more smoothly. I may have wanted to be more aggressive just out of my own instinct, but this let me look after my tyres well in the second race and take this podium which makes me happy. Evidently it’s just my destiny this season – I need a bad Race 1 to have great results in the second one. It was an important race for me because it taught me a lot and that is what I want out of this season. Now I can’t wait to get to Jerez and give 100%.”
Leon Haslam: “I had problems in both races. I had a lot of trouble losing the front. If I tried to conserve the rear tyre it would stress the front and I would lose speed going into turns. In the first race the tyres wore out very quickly and I wasn’t able to maintain a fast enough pace. In the second I started well, but at the end I was lapping slower than the first race. Toward the end of the race I made a last ditch effort to overtake the riders ahead of me but I just didn’t have the grip. I’m very disappointed because on this track the goal was to get onto the podium but we didn’t manage to do that.”