Donington Park and the Roman rebel.Thu, 31 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
We know the sun always shines on the righteous and that’s exactly what happened last weekend at Donington Park. Yes its good honest people back in charge of the Derbyshire circuit so we saw summer sunshine for Friday’s free practice and also for WSB race two on Sunday. The circuit is better than ever with a new Esses section in place, and while the paddock remains unchanged, work has already started that will see gradual revamp over the year ahead. Outside the paddock, George White has opened a smart new store adjacent to the museum and with an excellent cafe next door it makes a top venue for a ride out.
The racing was brilliant but it was reigning WSB champion Max Biaggi’s antics and lack of results that was the major talking point of the weekend. It kicked off on Friday when he clashed with Michel Fabrizio at Coppice, punting the Suzuki rider into the gravel and out of free practice. The next day little Massimiliano managed two near identical off track excursions at Redgate then an on track/off track handbag scrap with Marco Melandri before handing over a 3000 euro fine for slapping the man from Ravenna.
It would seem all of this left him frustrated on race day as an average start from the second row in race one saw him move up and down the leader board as he continually missed apexes and braking markers before bagging a 7th position at the chequered flag. Race two was worse as he jumped the start while trying to anticipate the lights but then refused to take his ride through penalty so was subsequently black flagged and disqualified.
I’ve always admired his riding but never really respected him as a human being. I’ve watched him trying to intimidate riders since his GP debut in 1992 and I even had a little taste myself during my last GP season in 1995. As a has been on a very average 250cc Aprilia, at the opening races Max liked to fly past on his full factory version then brake check me mid corner. At first I thought it was my imagination but I soon realised he just wanted to let me know who was boss. He stopped this trick when he realised I was no threat which was good timing as I was looking forward to taking him out had it continued. I thought Melandri dealt with the Donington practice incident perfectly. Biaggi was the one in the wrong but Marco still remained calm and dignified throughout. The Yamaha rider’s attitude towards the Biaggi reminded me of an interview I did with him three years ago at the NEC when I asked how the Roman would fair in WSB. His reply was ‘I don’t know and I don’t care’. Love him or hate him racing would be a lot less interesting without Max Biaggi.
Read Whitham's take on Biaggi's latest tantrum here
By Niall Mackenzie
See also: Max Biaggi loses the plot . . and very nearly his teeth !, Max Biaggi loses the plot . . and very nearly his teeth !, New ÍHLINS products for GSX-R600 & GSX-R750.