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Bayliss pips Hodgson in Race One
6 August 2000
Troy Bayliss used the superior power of the Infostrada Ducati to keep a fired up Neil Hodgson at bay in Race One at Brands Hatch, an event marred by a horrific looking crash involving Steve Hislop.
With the perennially unlucky James Haydon and Haruchika Aoki being forced to withdraw from the race after the morning warm up and Massimo De Silvestro and Claude Alain Jaggi not being permitted to start due to their painfully slow qualifying times, 32 bikes lined up on a muggy startline for the first 25 lap dash.
Twenty minutes later, 31 bikes lined up to try and make the start once again. The unfortunate absentee was British Yamaha rider Steve Hislop who became embroiled in a horrific accident with Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga as the pack hurtled around Paddock for the first time.
Edwards appeared to clip the rear of pole-sitter Neil Hodgson which caused the Honda rider to sit up. Hislop, on the outside of Edwards also had to quickly check up but contact was made and both riders were pitched into the air. The fast starting Haga was also caught up and ran over Hislop as the three headed toward the gravel, Edwards and Haga being thrown clear of their bikes while Hislop was caught up with his and somersaulted several times before coming to rest just a few feet from his mangled bike.
The Scottish star was seen to be clutching his left leg as the dust settled although it took the circuit doctors some 15 minutes to remove him from the gravel bed and place him in an ambulance. Preliminary reports suggest that his injuries are not life threatening but he will definitely not ride again today.
Haga and Edwards were left to take the re-start on their spare bikes although neither rider let the first turn incident affect them, Edwards shooting into the lead from the front row as Haga catapulted through the field from the outside of the fourth row to second by the end of the first lap.
Also on fire in the early going was Troy Bayliss who moved into third on the second lap and quickly set about dealing with those ahead of him. The Ducati rider swiftly moved up on Edwards and Haga, outbraking them beautifully into Surtees on the third second tour.
Edwards soon dropped back as he struggled to get to grips with his spare bike which didn't have the same suspension settings as his primary machine. The Texan soon dropped behind Hodgson, Chris Walker and Frankie Chili who led the chase in third, fourth and fifth before losing further places to his team-mate Aaron Slight and title rival Troy Corser.
The fanatical British crowd were treated to a thrilling battle at the front for although Bayliss was able to keep the gap back to Haga stable at about 15 bike lengths, the Japanese rider soon had Hodgson, Walker and Chili climbing all over the back of him.
The battle for second to fifth positions raged on for much of the race with both Walker and Hodgson sending the crowd wild, matching one another in the spectacular moves stakes. Walker's move down the inside of Haga at Paddock on lap eight for second place garnering the biggest cheer.
Not wishing to be outdone, Hodgson tried a very late move on Chili on the run up to Druids a lap later, the orange Ducati running out of road forcing Neil to pick the bike up and run wide. Back on track, Neil cut in-front of Slight going in to Graham Hill bend and proceeded to hunt down the top four who were now disappearing into the distance.
Tenth by tenth, Hodgson reeled his opponents in one by one, dispatching Chili at Surtees on lap eleven and cutting inside Haga down the inside of paddock a lap later. With Bayliss easing away in the lead, all eyes fell on the fight for second involving the British Superbike stars for the second step on the podium.
The very physical tussles between Walker and Hodgson which have been the talking point of the BSB series this year once again spilled over onto the world stage as Walker's Suzuki strove to keep Hodgson's Ducati at bay. The deciding moment came at Surtees on lap 15 when Hodgson dived to the inside at the last moment and forced Walker to yeald.
With ten laps remaining Bayliss held down a 2.5 second lead over Hodgson who gradually pulled away from Walker as he chipped away at the leader.
The rest of the field were no longer a factor with Haga and Chili still squabbling over fourth albeit six seconds adrift of the leader and everyone else still further strung out behind.
By lap 23 Hodgson had caught Bayliss and was testing the Australian all the way around the 2.46 mile track. Bayliss had an advantage along the start/finish straight and along Pilgrims Drop whereas Hodgson closed from Druids Hairpin all the way round to Surtees. Around the rest of the lap the two bikes were evenly matched with Neil realising that he would only have one shot at the lead against the Australian rider.
The move for the lead came a lap too early as on lap 24 Neil swept into first at Surtees, holding the move brilliantly as the two bikes powered into Pilgrims Drop. However Bayliss used the superior speed of the Infostrada machine to drag past the British rider on the start/finish line. Onto the final lap and Hodgson stayed glued to the rear of the red Ducati but was unable to make a move. Troy defended his line well and took the flag for a popular win in-front of a crowd whom adopted him as an honorary Brit last year during his successful BSB campaign.
Hodgson was pleased with second as were the 120,000 fans who packed themselves around the Kent circuit especially as fellow wildcards Walker and John Reynolds completed the top four. Walker battled on until the end but his tyres were feeling the effect of his early exuberance while Reynolds saved the best of his rubber for a late charge which saw him pass Slight, Corser, Edwards, Chili and Haga in the last six laps.
The Yamaha rider eventually finished fifth as his back-up bike did not last as well as he had hoped it would and was easy prey for Reynolds on the final lap. However after a nasty crash in Superpole and an even more dangerous incident at the first turn, Haga can count himself lucky that he was able to finish the race in one piece.
Corser moved quietly into sixth in the late stages after battling with Edwards, Slight and the two Kawasaki's of Akira Yanagawa and Gregorio Lavilla for much of the race. Slight eventually moved into seventh as Chili faded badly towards the end while Edwards' race became one of damage limitation when he realised that his spare bike also had the wrong gear ratios on it. Colin would finish behind Yanagawa in tenth but lost ground to both Corser and Haga in the title chase.
Series returnee Lavilla rode admirably despite the pain of his previously broken pelvis causing him more and more discomfort as the event progressed. The Spaniard stayed in touch with the group battling for seventh place during the first half of the race but was eventually overhauled by Juan Borja on the second Infostrada bike and finished twelfth..
Andy Meklau, Alessandro Antonello and Ben Bostrom and completed the points scorers on a day with surprisingly little attrition. Bostrom struggled on his first visit to Brands Hatch while Meklau and Antonello rode well and moved up the order to score well deserved points.
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