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Kagayama takes win as the action gets hot
3 May 2004
In a fabulous last lap dice Yukio Kagayama took the first race of the day at Oulton Park from team-mate John Reynolds by the very smallest of margins. Michael Rutter had to battle back to the front from twelfth to take third.
John Reynolds started on pole but was pipped into the first corner by Kagayama, Rutter, Scott Smart, Dean Thomas and cup contender James Ellison who got a blinding start from the third row of the grid.
JR was quick to take Ellison on the second lap at Lodge before the start finish straight. Meanwhile Kagayama was still leading the race up front with Thomas nipping at his heals. JR then took Thomas on the next lap in the same place as he passed Ellison. From here he followed Kagayama for one lap and passed at his favourite place, Lodge, in a clean manoeuvre to make sure of no blue on blue mishaps.
HM Honda's Michael Rutter, finally got his start right and was second into the first corner but on the exit he was nudged onto the grass by Hawk Kawasaki's Scott Smart. This displaced Rutter into twelfth, and as usual he had to battle through the field to get back up to the front.
Rutter did not hang around and by lap six he was in fifth. On the next lap he took fourth placed Gary Mason of Virgin Yamaha, but by this time the front three had taken a five second lead over the rest of the field. Rutter rode like a man possessed and closed on Mason over a second a lap. By lap thirteen, Rutter had passed Mason, but JR and Kagayama had now gone off into the distance in their own battle at lap record breaking pace.
JR led Kagayama for the remainder of the race, but Kagayama never let JR get far away as he tried to pressure him into a mistake. But JR is a man used to leading races and so didn't put a foot wrong. The pair matched each other lap after lap and actually posted the exactly the same time to the nearest thousandths of a second on lap eleven.
Kagayama seemed to be battling with the bike and looked quite out of shape for most of the lap. JR in comparison always looked in control and inch perfect. In the closing stages of the race, Kagayama became more erratic and it was clear he badly wanted the win.
JR had to dig deep to stop overtaking attempts from Kagayama but was unable to stop the last pass on the final lap into Hizzy's Chicane. JR took the tighter breaking line trying to block Kagayama but the plucky Japanese rider took an even tighter line and block passed JR into the corner. JR instantly tried to come back but Kagayama rode defensively to the flag, depriving JR of the win he wanted.
Kagayama declared himself 'much happy' after picking up the top trophy at the podium.
However not all riders were able to bring their bikes home, this was one race of many spectacular accidents. On the warm up lap, Superbike Cup contender Warren Scott lost control of his Kawasaki breaking into lodge and collected Vince Whittle's Ducati.
As the bikes fell the fuel tank of the Ducati split open, spreading its fuel all over the track. This then combusted and the flames caught the fuel tank of the Kawasaki which also combusted. The flaming Ducati slid up the road nearly collecting WSBK Noriyuki Haga. Haga later retired from the restarted race due to a broken gear lever.
Haga's Renegade team mate, Leon Haslam had a very good race running in fifth on the last lap until Glen Richards over took him coming up to the chequered flag. Haslam was pushed wide and lost control of his Ducati and was slammed into the Armco with his bike spinning into the middle of the starting grid. This caused problems for the remainder of the field as racing was still going on. A few of the cup contenders nearly collected the stricken Duke as the battled over the line.
Luckily Haslam was soon to emerge from the hay bales and seemed to be shaken but not seriously unhurt. Richards was very concerned and after dropping his bike off at park ferme was straight over to medical office to see if Haslam was okay.
JR now has a fourteen points lead over second placed man Rutter, with Kagayama thirty points behind the Honda rider.
1. Yukio Kagayama
2. John Reynolds
3. Michael Rutter
4. Dean Thomas
5. Scott Smart
6. Glen Richards
7. Gary Mason
8. Sean Emmett
9. Tommy Hill
10. James Ellison
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