Corser doubles up with ease in Spain
11 March 2001
Troy Corser achieved what he failed to do last year by taking a Valenican double on the factory Aprilia RSV1000, the Australian taking a light to flag victory ahead of countryman Troy Bayliss and a fired up Gregorio Lavilla.
Troy Corser was once again a joy to watch as he decimated the World Superbike field for the second time in one afternoon to leave the opening round of the 2001 World Championship with a handy 10 point lead over countryman Troy Bayliss on the factory Ducati Infostrada entry who leaves the 2.95-mile Ricardo Tormo circuit with a brace of second places.
Starting from pole-position one again, Corser made a better start in race two than he had in race one but he still could not lead the full 32-bike field into Turn One as Colin Edwards somehow managed to shove the faring of his Honda down the inside of Corser's Aprilia to snatch top spot at the start of another difficult 23 laps.
Edwards' lead last all of a hundred yards as Corser, with better pick up out of the turn on the nimble Italian machine, repeated the move into Turn Two to take a lead he was not to lose. However just behind the top two, a horrible looking crash involving Tadayuki Okada and Regis Laconi threatened to overshadow the event as the Japanese rider clipped the Frenchman's rear wheel and was sent tumbling to the tarmac, his helmet hitting the track very hard. For a few agonising seconds Okada lay motionless in the gravel before, to the relief of everyone, he groggily picked himself and walked away. Laconi meanwhile was able to stay on his Aprilia but retired shortly afterwards with damage related to the incident making the bike impossible to ride.
Edwards was in no position to pose a challenge to the fast-disappearing leader and by lap ten Corser had pulled out an incredible seven seconds lead while Edwards became embroiled in a ferocious duel with Troy Bayliss and Gregorio Lavilla, the Spaniard riding like a man inspired on the best of the Kawasaki's.
Despite having changed his settings after race one, Edwards was clearly holding his pursuers up and by lap eight, after several terrific exchanges, Bayliss was through with Lavilla, to the delight of the Spanish crowd, following two laps later.
The Spaniard quickly ate into Bayliss' already not inconsiderable advantage and, with the crowd going wild, Lavilla caught the Australian by half distance and began to harry the Ducati. However after several very close laps of action in which Lavilla made several bids for Bayliss' position, the Australian gradually eased away into a relative comfort zone and, with his rear tyre deteriorating as a result of his earlier charge, Lavilla settled for third, four seconds behind Bayliss.
After keeping the gap at a safe seven seconds for almost half the race, Corser endured his second late scare in as many races two laps from home when, exiting one of the second gear left hand corners on the infield section of the circuit, he put the power down a little too early and the back end snapped out. The resulting min-high side was enough to bounce Corser out of his seat but with a shake of the head he regained his composure and was still able to afford a suitably long stand-up wheelie as he crossed the line with more than five seconds to spare.
Just off the podium after a lonely run once Lavilla had gone by, Edwards can be pleased that he scored good, consistent points at a track neither he nor his bike enjoys while Neil Hodgson completed the top five after a composed run in the GSE Racing Ducati.
Third on the opening lap, a few mistakes early on cost the reigning British Superbike Champion, Bayliss, Lavilla and Ben Bostrom all nipping past on the third lap before the latter endured no less than three stop/go penalties for jumping the start, passing under yellows and finally entering the pits incorrectly. The American withdrew in disgust after seven laps when things just got silly and Hodgson was able to capitalise and hold down fifth for the remaining laps, holding off the attentions of Akira Yanagawa towards the end of the race.
Yanagawa put in another storming charge from the outside of the fifth row, helped by the retirements of Okada, Laconi, Bostrom, Giovanni Bussei and Hitoyasu Izutsu, the last two named coming to grief at the final turn on lap three and the Japanese rider fought his way past Ruben Xaus late in the race to take a creditable sixth.
Xaus also lost seventh place in the closing stages to Frankie Chili who put in another solid effort on what was a brand new, previously un-ridden Suzuki on Friday, but the Spanish rider was able to hang on to eighth and his first WSBK finish in front of his adoring home fans.
James Toseland finished in a fantastic ninth position after starting from the pit-lane on the spare GSE Ducati when his race-bike developed a problem on the grid. The 20-year old Sheffield rider held down tenth ahead of a train of five bikes for most of the race including Steve Martin, Marco Borciani, Brock Parkes, Juan Borja and Robert Ulm, before breaking clear in the closing stages and passing a gripless Stephane Chambon on the second Alstare Corona Suzuki. A top ten result on his WSBK debut was just reward for a rider who broke his thigh last year in a testing accident at Cadwell Park and there looks as though there is plenty more to come.
Following Chambon home in eleventh place for his best WSBK result to date was the impressive Borciani on the leading Team Pedercini Ducati while Ulm, the 19-year-old Parkes on his WSBK debut; Borja and Lucio Pedercini completed the points scorers.
So, two races in and Aprilia have made the best start possible on a track they were expected to do well at. Troy Corser looks fit, sharp and determined to take a second world title while Laconi will continue to improve and challenge as he gets used to the bike. Colin Edwards coped as best he could given the circumstances and should show his true speed at Kyalami although Tady Okada probably wished he stayed at home today. Ducati looks strong as ever but of the three factory riders, Bayliss looks the most consistent and mistake free thus far while Kawasaki have thus far exceeded even their own expectations. Corser may be 2 for 2, but it would take a brave man to bet on a repeat performance in South Africa in three weeks time.