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Edwards Champ – For now
11 September 2000
Colin Edwards repeated his Race One dominance in the second encounter at Oschersleben to clinch the 2000 World Superbike Championship, for the moment.
Once again the rest of the World Superbike field were left gasping as Colin Edwards asserted his dominance over proceedings. Once again the American led from start to finish and had an unchallenged run to the flag, even allowing himself a small wheelie before the flag as he cruised home with more than four seconds to spare.
Edwards made the best use of pole position for the second time in under four hours but was chased hard in the opening laps by Pier Francesco Chili who put up a stern threat until his injuries began to take their toll once more. The Honda and the Suzuki opened up a two second gap back to third place man Troy Bayliss who had a raging scrap between Gregorio Lavilla and Noriyuki Haga going on behind him for fourth place.
However one rider not on the leader board was Troy Corser who kissed his Championship hopes goodbye when his Aprilia cut out after just three corners, the Australian coasting into the pits to retire to join non-starters Doriano Romboni and Juan Borja on the sidelines.
It took Bayliss until lap eight to dispose of Chili but although the twisty nature of the Oschersleben circuit is supposed to favour the Ducati more than the Honda, Bayliss could do nothing except watch Edwards disappear slowly into the distance.
If the battle for the lead was a non-starter, the scrap for third kept the sizable German crowd on their toes for the entire race with Chili doing his best to hold off Haga and Lavilla with Akira Yanagawa making his presence felt in sixth position.
A little way behind that quartet there was a titanic struggle for seventh place between Aaron Slight, Ben Bostrom, Peter Goddard, Katsuaki Fujiwara, Alessandro Antonello and Wataru Yoshikawa, which more than matched the Chili/Haga/Lavilla/Yanagawa tussle in terms of spectacular overtaking moves.
Not even Frankie Chili could resist the triple decked onslaught forever and after ten laps of chopping and changing places with Haga and Lavilla, the Italian fell away in sixth place, once again in so much pain that it was a major struggle just to turn the corners.
Haga was also in trouble as the race progressed with the Yamaha not only lacking in mid-range power, crucial on this track, but also not handling to the Japanese rider's liking. Once his tyres were passed their best, Haga could not stop Lavilla from bursting through and as Edwards continued relentlessly up front, Haga watched his Championship dreams slip away.
Coming into the event, many people predicted Kawasaki as the perfect title spoilers and so it was on lap 24 when Yanagawa demoted his Japanese counterpart to fifth, Edwards moved 50 points clear in the points standings with just two races to go.
As the points stand at the moment, Edwards cannot be caught for even if Haga wins both races at Brands Hatch on October 15th, he will lose the title on Edwards' greater number of wins…..HOWEVER….If Yamaha's appal against Noriyuki's 45 point penalty in South Africa is successful, the Japanese star will go into the final round 5 points ahead of Edwards!
No sooner had Yanagawa moved into fourth, he began harrying his team-mate for the final step on the podium and with three laps to go he was through and on his way for his second podium result in the last three races. Bayliss' second place was out of reach although the bright green bike closed to within two seconds of the Australian at the flag.
Some 25 seconds behind Edwards on the track, the battle for seventh lost three participants as Slight fell foul of the starters beam and instead of taking his stop-go penalty within the first five laps of the board being shown, the New Zealander continued until lap twelve before steaming into the pits and retiring. On lap 18 Goddard and Antonello went for the same piece of tarmac at the end of the back straight with the inevitable contact resulting in both riders continuing their dispute in the gravel trap to further reduce the numbers.
For a long while it looked as though Fujiwara had got the measure of his squabbling rivals and the Japanese rider clung to the rear of his team-mate for many laps although he could not find a way through. This delay allowed Bostrom to close in and on lap 26 the Californian wildman took the spot in a textbook outbraking manoeuvre into the first turn.
Yoshikawa scored another good result with ninth place and Robert Ulm rounded out the top ten for the Gerin Ducati squad. Alessandro Gramigni scored his second successive eleventh place finish ahead of the second Gerin machine of Andy Meklau with Markus Barth, Lance Isaacs and Marco Borciani completing the points scorers.
Amongst the various celebrations up and down the pit lane, one pit garage seemed to be nosier than the rest put together as the party began in the Castrol Honda pit. However as joyous as the occasion is, Colin could have it all to do next month at Brands Hatch depending on what the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides.
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