2010 Imola World Supersport Race - Sizzling Duel For Championship Goes Down To The Line

Results and summary of the World Supersport race at Imola:

Michele Pirro was the surprise winner of a riveting World Supersport race at Imola, the Ten Kate Honda rider profiting from a crash that had been waiting to happen all race long between title rivals Eugene Laverty and Kenan Sofuoglu.

With Sofuoglu leading Laverty by 12 points going into the penultimate World Supersport race, and both men on the front row, a tight race looked likely, but nobody suspected just how close it would be. The Hannspree Ten Kate rider and the Parkalgar Honda man cleared off from the front as soon as the lights dimmed, the two men swapping places for three laps until Sofuoglu seized the initiative. The Turk opened the smallest of gaps, but his advantage was to last no more than a lap and a half, and Laverty was back with Sofuoglu by the end of lap 4.

From that point on, the race got ever more intense. Sofuoglu allowed Laverty through on lap 7, to see what the young Irishman had. Laverty ran smooth and fast whilst conserving his tires, but Sofuoglu had the measure of Laverty's pace. When Sofuoglu took the lead, though, it was Laverty's turn to follow comfortably, never really troubled by the pace of the Turk. 

The tension rose as the laps ticked off, the ferocity of battle increasing in inverse proportion to the length of the race remaining. The race turned from Mexican standoff into full-scale nuclear war on lap 13, with Laverty taking the lead from Sofuoglu. The lead swapped four times on the next lap, and twice more the lap after, Sofuoglu emerging in front, but hardly on top. With three to go, the Ten Kate man decided it was do-or-die, and Sofuoglu started to push his Honda to the very limit of his capabilities, taking over a second off his previous lap time in an attempt to finally dispense with Laverty.

The Irishman was having none of it, and Laverty was poking his nose alongside Sofuoglu at every conceivable opportunity, and quite a few which were quite beyond conception. Laverty had a serious attempt going into the first corner, but Sofuoglu edged the Parkalgar Honda out to cling on. It would come down to the final lap, and both men knew it. If Sofuoglu finished ahead of Laverty, he would take a very comfortable lead into the final round at Magny-Cours, while if Laverty could be Sofuoglu, he would close the gap down to something much more manageable.

Laverty had a serious stab at a pass through Turn 1, but there was not the room to get past, and the Irishman lost a bike length. He chased Sofuoglu down through the rest of the lap, poking his wheel wherever there was just a sliver of daylight, but could never get fully past the Turk to take the lead. Laverty's final chance was in the last chicane, and the Irishman flung his Parkalgar Honda up the inside of Sofuoglu's Ten Kate CBR600RR in a last-gasp attempt. It was never really going to work, and Laverty lost the front on the inside of the kerbing on the first half of the turn, wiping out and taking Sofuoglu with him.

The nature of the Imola track, however, meant that both men and their bikes slid across the track and into the gravel on the outside of the circuit, just 20 meters from the finish line. The first rider to remount and cross the line would win the points, and both Laverty and Sofuoglu scrambled to their machines and tried to get back on track. In the end, it was Sofuoglu who was fastest to get back underway, but by this time his teammate Michele Pirro had caught and past both men, taking victory - and an important extra point -  from Sofuoglu, Laverty scrambling across the line behind the Turk to take 3rd spot.

The bizarre - if inevitable - finish to the race leaves Sofuoglu with an advantage of 16 points going into the final World Supersport round at Imola, and one hand firmly on the 2010 crown. Laverty has to finish 3rd or better in France, and Sofuoglu has to suffer some kind of problem if the Turk is not to wrap up the title at the final round.

Results: 

Pos No. Rider Country Bike Diff
1 51 M. Pirro ITA Honda CBR600RR  
2 54 K. Sofuoglu TUR Honda CBR600RR 2.888
3 50 E. Laverty IRL Honda CBR600RR 4.569
4 23 B. Parkes AUS Kawasaki ZX-6R 4.865
5 37 K. Fujiwara JPN Kawasaki ZX-6R 5.718
6 55 M. Roccoli ITA Honda CBR600RR 6.102
7 18 M. Aitchison AUS Honda CBR600RR 9.977
8 53 C. Migliorati ITA Kawasaki ZX-6R 18.563
9 44 R. Tamburini ITA Yamaha YZF R6 19.987
10 45 G. Vizziello ITA Honda CBR600RR 28.436
11 14 M. Lagrive FRA Triumph Daytona 675 28.508
12 31 V. Iannuzzo ITA Triumph Daytona 675 42.347
13 85 A. Palumbo ITA Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'05.502
14 131 G. Barone ITA Yamaha YZF R6 1'05.930
15 5 A. Lundh SWE Honda CBR600RR 1 Lap
RET 7 C. Davies GBR Triumph Daytona 675 1 Lap
RET 10 I. Toth HUN Honda CBR600RR 6 Laps
RET 127 R. Harms DEN Honda CBR600RR 9 Laps
RET 4 G. Rea GBR Honda CBR600RR 16 Laps
RET 25 D. Salom ESP Triumph Daytona 675 17 Laps
RET 99 F. Foret FRA Kawasaki ZX-6R  
RET 117 M. Praia POR Honda CBR600RR  
RET 34 R. Quarmby RSA Honda CBR600RR  
Round Number: 
12
2010
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Comments

Not quite the finish I expected! But all's well that ends well. What a sterling race those two turned on, shades of the 'Imola Showdown'... I don't blame Laverty for that lunge given the way they'd both been hitting that chicane lap after lap.

Good for Pirro : )

I think sometimes the word "awesome" gets used a little too much but after watching this race I think it fits well. It's too bad Chaz Davies' Triumph quit on him on the last lap. It could have been a first win for my favorite middleweight bike.

It was a stunning battle, reminiscent of the Bayliss vs Edwards battle in 2002! And of course Laverty had to try this, there was no point in securing that second place. And let's be honest, Sofuoglu of all people can hardly complain about an aggressive passing move. What I am missing though in this extensive race review is the fact that Chaz Davies on the Triumph was in a sure third place after shaking off Pirro, and therefore about to take a historic win after that crash. Pirro was lying a distant fourth going into the last lap, and saw the first two crash in the last corner and the third man breaking down with a broken fuel pump just a few corners before that... Lucky man! And of course it would not have been the most glorious kind of win for Davies, but man, it would have been great to see him and the Triumph take that victory. Next year for sure!