Bayliss storms to first win
4 June 2000
Colin Edwards began Sunday with a perfect record at Hockenheim in 2000. Fastest in Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Superpole and in the Sunday warm-up. Not many would have argued if you said the Castrol Honda looked unbeatable.
One man who wouldn't have shared that opinion was Ducati's Troy Bayliss. The 31 year old Australian was having his first taste of Hockenheim's flat out straight's in what is only his third World Superbike meeting but that didn't stop him from battling tooth and nail with some of WSB's finest AND beating them to record his first ever World Superbike victory.
Away from the line both Troy's : Bayliss and Corser outdragged the pole sitting Edwards only to have the Honda displace them on the run down to the Jim Clark chicane. Edwards knew that his best chance to get an easy race would be to break the lead draft early on and, recognising this fact by the end of lap one both Noriyuki Haga and Pierfrancesco Chili had further demoted Messrs Bayliss and Corser.
By the end of the lap Edwards still had Haga and Chili stuck to his exhaust pipes with Corser, Akira Yanagawa, Bayliss and Alessandro Antonello still in close company. In the opening several laps the Texan made a desperate attempt to break clear of the pack but to no avail. Haga and Chili would not be swayed either and there was now some daylight beginning to appear between the top three and Bayliss, who had now established himself in fourth.
The 34 bike field had already been depleted by one when John Reynolds pulled up after just a single tour while Anthony Gobert retired his troublesome Bimota shortly afterwards.
This almost went unnoticed for the action at the front was unrelenting. On lap three Chili pulled a lap of 1 minute 59.885 out of the bag which was faster than even Edwards managed in qualifying. Bayliss had managed to put some daylight between himself and the following group, still led by Yanagawa but now with Aaron Slight, Corser, Antonello, Andy Meklau and Robert Ulm in tow. There was a sizeable gap now beginning to appear between the top ten and the following scrap for eleventh which comprised Ben Bostrom, Juan Borja, James Haydon, Simon Crafar and the plucky Stephen Plater.
It was clear in the opening laps that Edwards and Haga had Chili for pace but the Suzuki was able to make up for it in the turns. Chili would struggle for the first three quarters of the lap but would then close dramatically into the stadium section. This boded well for a final lap battle into the last couple of corners.
Edwards continued to do the lion's share of the leading although Haga briefly took the place away on lap six, he was quickly displaced. The following lap Chili decided that he had had enough of sitting back and wanted to lead, which he promptly did, forcing Edwards off-line at the very fast Ostkurve. Haga took advantage of the Honda's loss of momentum to nip through and take second while Bayliss had now closed right up in fourth and was in ten bike length's of the new leader.
Once Bayliss was with the lead group, he made short work of them to sweep though into the lead as they approached the stadium section on lap nine. With the leader's continuing to battle furiously, Yanagawa had seized the opportunity to join the quartet and had dragged Slight and Corser, who was hanging on despite his Aprilia's lack of grunt, to within two seconds of the lead bunch.
Bayliss looked very comfortable at the front and held the place for an entire lap before Edwards and Chili went either side of the Ducati on the exit of the Ayrton Senna chicane. Chili once again moved to the head of the multi-coloured train which was made up of five different bikes from five different manufacturers, this was Superbike racing at it's very best.
At the ten lap mark, a mere one second separated Chili, Edwards, Bayliss, Haga and Yanagawa with Slight and Corser still within striking distance. The Gerin Ducati twins Meklau and Ulm had, by now got the better of Antonello in the second Aprilia and were making inroads into Corser. Behind the top ten, Crafar now led the battle for eleventh but only by a whisker from Borja, Plater, Bostrom and Haydon.
As the race entered its' closing stages the position shuffle became a little more frantic as the leaders all fought for the best position in the sprint to the flag. First to show his hand was Yanagawa who moved up to second behind the new leader Bayliss. Edwards and Chili dropped back to fourth and fifth places respectively and seemed content to let the others battle. By lap twelve it was clear that it would be a five bike battle to the finish and in the circumstances, one had to favour the experience of Edwards and Chili.
Yanagawa had other ideas and with his Kawasaki performing better than had been expected, he moved to the front at the Jim Clark chicane on the penultimate lap.
As the quintet entered its' final lap Yanagawa still had the edge over Bayliss with Edwards and Chili looking menacing in third and fourth. Out into the countryside they poured with the lime green missile leading its red, white, purple and wine coloured counterparts. Into the first chicane Bayliss lunged to the inside to take the lead only to have Yanagawa retaliate into the Ostkurve, behind these two, Chili suddenly put his hand in the air and slowed with a mechanical problem and forlornly pulled to the side of the track. And then there were four.
Bayliss took advantage of his Ducati's superior straight line speed to move around the outside of the Kawasaki going into the Senna chicane but in doing so both he and Yanagawa lost a touch of momentum. This allowed Edwards and Haga to close right up and on the straight leading into the stadium section it was four abreast with Bayliss clinging to the inside. The Australian held off Yanagawa round the Sachskurve and took the line into the final series of turns to take his first win by a scant two tenths of a second.
Behind the ecstatic victor, Yanagawa held on to a fine second while Haga beat out Edwards for the final podium place. In a race where Edwards was expected to dominate, he had failed to make the podium.
Slight came home over three seconds behind the leaders to inherit fifth after Chili's demise while an inspired Meklau just edged out Corser on the final lap.
Ulm and Antonello were eighth and ninth while the battle for eleventh had been promoted to a battle for tenth on the last lap with Bostrom coming out on top. The American, in his first ride for the satellite NCR Ducati team beat off Kawasaki returnee Crafar, Haydon, Borja on the second Infostrada Ducati and Plater who thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of WSB action.
Markus Barth took the final point on his Yamaha after another race-long battle with fellow privateers Alessandro Gramigni and Marco Borciani.
All in all the race had been a great advertisement for World Superbikes with a new winner, competitive showing from all the factory teams (with the exception of Bimota) and plenty of hard but clean racing. At the flag only even seconds separated the top seven finishers. Five of whom were on different bikes. Race two would have to be something special to beat this.