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Laconi claims dramatic Imola double
26 September 2004
Fila Ducati's Regis Laconi won the second race of the World Superbikes from Imola to take his second win of the day. His team-mate James Toseland came across the line just 0.041secs behind the French rider in one of the closest finishes yet this season.
Ten Kate Honda's Chris Vermeulen managed to accidentally high-side his Fireblade on the warm-up lap. Giovanni Bussei saw the stricken Australian and stopped track-side to give him a lift to the pits. Here Vermeulen hobbled up to his spare bike to start the race from the pit lane exit in last position.
However the Honda rider did not waste any time in clawing his way back up to the front, knowing full well that he had to finish strongly in a maximum points scoring position in order to keep his championship hopes alive.
Meanwhile, at the front Laconi took a commanding lead over proceedings from the start, with Rengade Ducati's Noriyuki Haga and Fellow Fila rider James Toseland hot in pursuit in second and third respectively.
In no time at all the leading three had opened up a lead to fourth placed Steve Martin, and by lap five they were 6 seconds ahead.
Haga looked despirate to get pass Laconi, knowing that he needed to score well to make up the gap that had opened up following the first race and the last round at Assen.
On the ninth lap he got his chance as Laconi made a mistake that took him wide on the exit of Tamburello going onto the back straight. This allowed Haga to get immediately passed, with Toseland out dragging his team mate by the end of the straight.
Now Haga led with Toseland second and Laconi third.
By this point, on the tenth lap, Vermeulen was still carving his way through the pack, up to tenth and chasing down ninth placed FPR rider Troy Corser.
Corser saw the youngster closing and on the 12th lap let him through, after seeing what had happened on the warm up lap. Corser knew that Vermeulen had a shot of the championship and graciously put aside his own race to allow the Honda rider through with minimum friction.
At the front enraged a wheel to wheel battle between Haga and Toseland, both as desperate as each other to win. Haga was trying to pull a slight lead on the ninth lap, when the unthinkable happened. Haga was coming over a steep crest when he lost control of the front breaking for a tight left hander. This saw him slide out of first place, with any championship hopes he had previously had ebbing away too.
Toseland now picked up the pieces in first with his team-mate Laconi in hot pursuit.
Laconi sat behind Toseland, hounding the young Brit for the next few laps, making his move with three laps to go.
Laconi blocked passed Toseland into the second chicane taking first place and first in the championship standings. This was the way it was to finish at the chequered flag despite a last corner challenge by Toseland which saw the two riders cross the line side by side, separated by only 0.041 secs.
Chris Vemeulen valiantly battled his way up to a final sixth position to take ten hard earned points and keep his chances of the title alive.
Laconi now leads the championship on 295 points with Toseland second on 291, and Vermeulen is third with 282 points.
Race two top ten
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