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Bostrom achieves Laguna double
9 July 2001
Ben Bostrom became the first man to sweep both Laguna Seca races since John Kocinski in 1997 as he led race two from start to finish and was never troubled leaving all the fighting and squabbling to those left in his wake.
Confidence in the World Superbike paddock was low heading into the start of the second race of the day at Laguna Seca as nobody was quite sure how Ben Bostrom could be beaten around the glorious 2.238-mile eleven turn course and the Californian L&M Ducati rider proved that his competition had every right to feel a little depressed as he finally made the start he was looking for and controlled the second 28-lap encounter from lights to flag for his third World Superbike win in a row.
Bostrom's first World Superbike double capped a perfect weekend in which he headed both qualifying sessions, was victorious in Superpole and then took the victory spoils in both races as he tied Troy Bayliss for four race wins in 2001 and consolidated fourth place in the Championship with one eye on Troy Corser and Colin Edwards ahead of him.
After fluffing the start in race one, Bostrom made a near perfect getaway second time around but still found himself only alongside the rocket-like Neil Hodgson going into the first turn. However as Hodgson ran a little wide Bostrom was able to make a decisive break and as the Englishman, Corser, Colin Edwards and the younger of the two Bostrom's, Eric, wowed the sun-drenched California crows with a fantastic dice for second spot, Bostrom disappeared up the road and into the middle distance.
Corser was the only man able to make inroads into Bostrom's lead once the scrap for second had died down but even he could only bring the deficit down to 1.8-seconds before Bostrom further turned up the wick and put the result beyond doubt before half distance. The Australian Aprilia rider eventually crossed the line 2.3-seconds in arrears of the local rider, a margin that one felt could have been far greater had Bostrom wished it to be.
The fight for second in the opening ten laps was pure joy to watch with Hodgson's orange and purple GSE Racing Ducati passing both Corser and Edwards at the final hairpin on several occasions only to be out-dragged down the start/finish straight and into the first corner. On lap six the Englishman looked to have finally made his move stick on Edwards but the defending WSB Champ made the extra grunt of the Honda count down the main straight and the two entered turn one side by side which allowed Corser to sneak inside both of them in a great three-wide move going into turn three.
Eventually Corser was able to get some clean air between himself and Hodgson as Eric Bostrom performed the traditional Bostrom family spectacular on Edwards going into the Corkscrew for fourth place on lap seven. This allowed Hodgson to consolidate third place behind Corser but he could not match the pace of the two riders ahead of him and settled for third place, nursing a very worn front tyre home to the finish, anxious to avoid a repeat of his Misano race two disaster.
However if the top three positions remained largely static throughout the second half of the race the battle for fourth place remained up in the air until the very last corner as Bostrom, E. Edwards, Troy Bayliss, Tadayuki Okada and the sensational James Toseland duked it out with Bayliss calmly sitting on the rear wheel of Edwards until lap 19 when he out-braked the Texan Tornado going into turn five. Not content with fifth place Bayliss then went after Bostrom's impressively ridden Kawasaki and made a breathtaking move for fourth going up the hill towards the Corkscrew in which the Australian had half his Ducati on the curb and the other half on the dirt.
Making the most of a bad situation as he has done so often this year, Bayliss then kept a slight advantage over Bostrom who in turn had a few bike lengths to spare over Edwards. However, Edwards was slowly being reeled in by Toseland and Akira Yanagawa who had made a poor start but had avoided any mishaps at the Corkscrew on this occasion but despite a concerted last lap effort from Toseland to depose the reigning WSB Champ Edwards clung onto his sixth place behind Bostrom who matched his race one result with another fine fifth place.
More than ten seconds behind the eighth placed Yanagawa and exactly half a minute behind Bostrom was Regis Laconi who rode a lonely race for ninth while Ruben Xaus just held off Okada for tenth after the Japanese rider slid off the track going through turn six on lap 15 just as he was sizing Bayliss up for sixth place.
Stephane Chambon made it home on this occasion for a disappointing twelfth place finish ahead of Steve Martin and Broc Parkes while there were scenes of further joy in the Benelli pit as Peter Goddard grabbed a World Championship point on the very last lap after Giovanni Bussei threw his NCR Ducati into the boonies just four corners from home.
Frankie Chili's miserable weekend continued for although he was declared fit to race after his race one tumble, a very sore Frankie pulled off after just one lap after damaging his groin in race one and finding the injury too painful to continue. Gregorio Lavilla's weekend also went from bad to worse when he retired his Fuchs Kawasaki on lap six while Doug Chandler decided to call it quits after a stop and go penalty put him in amongst the Javier Rodriguez's, Jiri Mrkyvka's and Ferdinando Di Maso's of this world
The World Superbike circus now heads back across the Atlantic to Britain and Brands Hatch in two weeks time as the series takes in its second glorious circuit in a row. Neil Hodgson is relishing the challenge as is Ben Bostrom although the American suffered a complete nightmare last time out at the Kent track while there will surely be a wildcard or two capable of upsetting the applecart.
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