27 April 2003
Gibernau takes dream win!
Marshals quickly attempted to clean up the mess, with a rather generous amount of cement dust, while other riders rushed to ask Kenny where the problem had occurred, for their own safety. Between (the quick) turns 3 and 5 was his answer.
The machines then returned to the pitlane to top up their fuel and wait for the start procedure to begin again for what would be a full (28 lap) race, while Suzuki also set to work on a spare bike for KR Jr.
Following a 50-minute delay, the second start procedure began without problem, but as soon as the lights went out Nakano almost stalled his M1, causing the field to take evasive action – but no sooner had that near miss taken place than Colin Edwards veered sharply to his right, on the run down to turn one, and slammed into McWilliams.
It was unclear exactly what had triggered the accident, the Texan's right foot just seemed to come off its peg (possibly after tangling with Hopkins) then the bike speared to the right and, since Edwards started on the left of the grid, sent him straight into the pack.
A number of riders were collected, with McWilliams losing out the most as he was forced off track and into retirement – although he kept it on two wheels – and even managed to avoid the tumbling Edwards who almost fell under his machine.
The double WSBK champ limped away unaided from the heavy accident and was taken to the medical centre and, fortunately, any injuries are not thought to be severe.
The chaos at turn one, combined with the apprehension of the front row riders – who would have been first through the cement dust – played right into the hands of Troy Bayliss and from his ninth placed start the Aussie was leading the field by the mid point of lap one. Fantastic.
And he wasn't just leading in some kind of 'got lucky, lets see how long I can stay here' way, the #12 was riding with the kind of confidence that made him such a WSBK legend, and proving he'd lost none of his fight.
So by the end of a chaotic first lap the order was: Bayliss, from Gibernau, Biaggi, Rossi, Abe, Ukawa, Hayden, Checa and Barros – with Capirossi having run well wide during that lap, dropping him back to 13th.
The feisty Italian was soon wringing everything he could to get back on terms with the leaders, working his way up to 11th by lap 9, at which point he ran wide again – this time only just missing the tyre barrier - before calling it a day and returning to the pits with some kind of 'problem'.
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