Crash.Net WSBK News
Hodgson controls race two
6 August 2000
Neil Hodgson emulated his Donington Park feat by simply walking away with the second race of the day at Brands Hatch in a style that was very reminiscent of King Carl.
Once again the afternoon's proceedings at Brands Hatch were disrupted by an accident on the opening lap of a World Superbike event as yet another horrific looking shunt caused the second WSB race to be stopped for almost half an hour.
The accident, this time involving Troy Corser and Akira Yanagawa looked particularly nasty with Corser high-siding coming out of Surtees and then being ridden over by the Kawasaki rider who did everything possible to get out of the way but could not avoid the Australian.
As was the case with Steve Hislop during race one, the red flag was produced and an ambulance was deployed for Corser who took a hefty knock from the Kawasaki. Thankfully after several worrying minutes Troy was put into the ambulance and taken away to the track's medical facility where he was released before the end of the re-started race.
The distraction did not seem to affect the remaining contenders who were about to make their fourth start of the day and although their preparations had been disrupted, the news that Hislop had only minor injuries to his hand and ankle and Corser was reporting no problems was a great relief.
With Robert Ulm, Hislop and Corser adding to the list of race one non-starters only 29 (of the original 36) bikes took the fourth and final start of the afternoon with the crowd now well and truly on fire.
When the lights turned green Gregorio Lavilla got away like a scolded cat and pushed himself up into the lead group as the field rounded Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. Rekindling their race one battle Neil Hodgson and Troy Bayliss went round the first corner together with Bayliss nudging the Englishman off line to take the lead. Colin Edwards snuck through into second while Hodgson gathered himself together and robustly fought off a challenge from Chris Walker at Druids.
However Hodgson wasn't going to hang round for long and before the end of the first lap the bright orange Ducati was homing in on the Castrol Honda ahead of it. The move came coming into Paddock on lap three although Neil's time in second place was short lived, the Burnley rider using his momentum to surprise Bayliss on the run down to Graham Hill Bend just a few hundred metres later.
Bayliss fought back along Cooper straight although Hodgson was determined not to surrender the lead and held Troy off under braking into Surtees. The roar of the crowd and the hundreds of horns and klaxons was deafening the first time Hodgson negotiated Clearways in the lead and the GSE Ducati began to pull away.
Behind Hodgson during the opening laps lay a train of eight bikes all still in contention for the podium headed by Bayliss, Edwards, the electric Noriyuki Haga who had risen from 14th to fourth on the opening lap, Frankie Chili, Chris Walker, Akira Yanagawa, Aaron Slight and Lavilla.
Even as early as lap five there was no-one else in the race and British hopes took a dive when John Reynolds, who had risen magnificently to fourth in the opening race, holed a radiator and had to retire.
The pace during the early laps was simply astonishing with Hodgson breaking the lap record no less than four times in the first half of the race. The gap back to Bayliss increased tenth by tenth during the first ten laps and the Australian rider remained in a threatening position until just after half distance when Neil put in a series of stunning laps to blow the gap open and put the race beyond doubt.
The crowd, sensing that they were witnessing a virtuoso performance reacted accordingly and spurred Neil on as the gap grew to almost seven seconds with just five laps to go. After the race Neil admitted to losing concentration in the closing laps although to the casual spectator this was not apparent as the Ducati continued to circulate at impressive speeds until the final few hundred metres when Neil allowed himself a wheelie and a wave to the crowd as he cruised across the line to scenes of utter jubilation. If Carl Fogarty does decide to retire, Britain's next hero is waiting in the wings.
Bayliss was second but a beaten man. The mercurial Australian had pushed and pushed for the entire race, never once easing up and although Hodgson suddenly blew the gap out at two thirds distance it was down to Hodgson picking up his pace rather than Bayliss slowing. Still, with a win and a second each, honours were just about even between Infostrada and GSE.
Eight seconds behind the winner, Chili took a popular third after a race long scrap with Haga's Yamaha. Possibly two of the most spectacular riders in WSB today, Chili and Haga gradually swallowed up the Honda of Edwards which was suffering from an 'off' rear tyre. By lap eleven the trio were together with Haga sitting behind Chili hoping to cash in on any possible mistake from the Italian.
As difficult as the Honda was to tame, Edwards manfully repelled Chili's challenge until lap 14 when Haga decided that he wanted to pressure the American, tucking underneath the Suzuki at Surtees. The Japanese rider took little more than a lap and a half to depose Edwards with a superb move at Clearways, Chili following him past at Paddock.
The battle was now on for the final podium position with the two showmen never more than three bike lengths apart, swapping places on several occasions before Chili was able to make the decisive move five laps from home. The Italian has a massive British following and the fans showed their appreciation for all three podium finishers.
Haga was disappointed with fourth but was safe in the knowledge that Corser had not added to his score and that Edwards was some way behind him. Colin dropped to sixth in the closing stages behind Yanagawa who also saw off a race long challenge from Walker. Had the race lasted two or three laps longer then the fans would have been treated to the National Tyres Suzuki of Walker hunting down and passing the Championship leader but sadly for Walker, time ran out and he fell just one second shy.
The battle for eighth place was effectively settled on lap 14 when Slight slid into the gravel trap at Druids, damaging the Honda beyond immediate repair. That left Lavilla on his own and the Spaniard continued his lonely race until the very end, his pelvis causing too much discomfort to allow him to challenge Walker.
Andy Meklau took a well deserved ninth on the only Gerin Ducati in the race although the Austrian only inherited the position after Ben Bostrom had to pit to change his rear tyre and Juan Borja crashed at Druids. The high retirement rate also accounted for, amongst others, the second Axo Aprilia of Alessandro Antonello and the Bertocchi Kawasaki of Giovanni Bussei.
The mechanical carnage left Alessandro Gramigni in a well deserved tenth place while Katsuaki Fujiwara and Vittoriano Guareschi completed the top dozen, neither rider doing their chances of retaining their factory rides any good this weekend.
Completing the points scorers were Markus Barth, Marco Borciani and Lance Isaacs as they were the only others left not to have been delayed by one problem or another.
The Brands Hatch weekend certainly lived up to most expectations with a good deal of British success to cap it all off. As far as the championship is concerned though, it is still open to either Edwards, Corser or Haga despite Troy's failure to score in race two. The Australian is now 24 points behind the Texan with just six races remaining. However with talk of the Imola round being cancelled, everything could come to a head at Assen in just under a months time.