MAGNY-COURS, France —The closest ever finish in the history of the Superbike World Championship came concluded Sunday at Magny-Cours when Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) ended the second race in fifth place and ended the season one-half-point ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team).
Biaggi had fallen in the first eni FIM Superbike World Championship race of the day, leaving open a path of opportunity for Sykes and race one second place finisher Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport).
With Melandri crashing out in spectacular style in race two it was down to Sykes to make the running and he did it in style after putting in his fourth race win of the year. Biaggi, receiving pit signals from his crew, had worked his way far enough forward to take the overall win and score his second SBK championship, adding to his 2010 season win, again for Aprilia.
Biaggi now has two world titles, 21 race wins, 70 podiums and five pole positions to his credit, and four 250GP titles to boot.
“This is the fourth world championship out of six that I have won at the final race, I seem to like difficult challenges,” Biaggi said. “The 2012 season went right down to the wire: we started well with a win at Phillip Island after totally renewing my team and we also had some difficult moments. We had to work hard to win the title, and maybe for this reason it’s even better.”
In the final championship rankings in 2012, Biaggi has 358 points, Sykes 357.5 and Melandri 328.5.
In the opening race of the day, held in wet conditions early contender Biaggi feall on lap two and his two remaining championship rivals, Melandri and Sykes score podiums for second and third, respectively. Guintoli continued his amazing form in privateer guise with a clear win, by over six seconds from Melandri and by over 16 seconds from Sykes. This was Guintoli’s third win of the year.
“What a race,” Guintoli said. “It’s been a great weekend for me, obviously with a wet race I knew I had a big chance, then got into my rhythm. When Marco came past it woke me up and I found some extra pace and then managed to pass Tom. I’m really happy to win in France after this crazy season with lots of ups and downs.”
Sykes did all he could in winning race two, impressively by 1.354 seconds despite pressure from behind for the whole race distance on a largely dry track. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) was second in the 23-lap race, with Guintoli third. Biaggi’s team-mate, Laverty was fourth in the race, but Melandri crashed out of contention. Maxime Berger made it a happy day for the French with fourth on his Red Devils Roma Ducati.
“It’s difficult to accept that half a point separates us in a full season, but that’s all credit to World Superbike and how close it is,” Sykes said. “Max did a great job, but for me and my season I’m very happy, everyone gave me a full package to do something with and this weekend I was very strong. Overall we had a pole position, circuit record, two podiums and I’d like to dedicate that to Joan Lascorz, I’ve had some help from him this weekend. To close 30 points on Biaggi was magical. Now we’re all signed and sealed for next year, hopefully we can deliver.”