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Bayliss gets double, but has to fight
27 April 2008
Race two at Assen proved to be harder fought up front between Haga and Bayliss but further back the battles were a little less fraught than in race one.
Bayliss again got the holeshot to lead into turn one and from the outset the Australian former champion looked to be in control of the situation up front.
The Ducati team leader had used up his tyres a little more then he would have liked in race one so in the second encounter he was more intent on saving them, while still being able to hold the lead.
Ruben Xaus was at least able to start the second lap this time and held second place initially as the field covered the first two laps line astern.
It was almost like Noah's ark for a while with two Yamaha's and three Suzuki's all following each other round the van Drenthe circuit.
The order was soon broken though as Haga made a daring move to take second from Xaus, no doubt aware that Bayliss could pull away. The Yamaha man managed to hurl his Yamaha into a fast corner alongside Xaus and quickly rode up to the twin pipes of Bayliss' similar machine.
One man dropping like a stone was Troy Corser. As in race one the Aussie got a great start but was quickly passed by Neukirchner and Xaus into the final chicane, he dropped quickly thereafter.
Neukirchner's move was brave, taking both Xaus and Corser and being able to still get the line through the best passing place on the track and get into third place.
Making a tardy start yet again was Carlos Checa. Like many GP riders who come to Superbike, Carlos, like Max Biaggi and Alex Barros often seems to take a time to get up to speed in these races.
The Spaniard was making good progress from an early eighth place and was soon with the Suzuki pair of Fonsi Nieto and Kagayama. These two were soon dropped by the leaders though and though Kagayama was able to hold on for a solid placing, they were both soundly beaten by the impressive Neukirchner.
Up front the game of cat and mouse was beginning. Haga was able to stay with Bayliss for a few laps before the Ducati started to just edge clear bit by bit. Then with nine laps to go Bayliss pushed away again and the threat from the Yamaha favourite seemed over.
As this was all going on the battle for the remaining podium place was heating up. Neukirchner was in that place with Xaus right there as the pair of them slowly dropped away from Bayliss and Haga.
The Spaniard made a very good move on Neukirchner in the twisty section on the older part of the circuit, and edged away from the Suzuki.
Catching them both though was Checa, he pushed inside Max at the final chicane and on the last lap managed to get past Xaus into the new turns after the start/finish straight to nick second.
As all this was going on, in the lead Bayliss seemed to be in control but Haga simply refused to give up and on the last two laps was right with his old rival.
The Yamaha looked quicker in only a few places though and despite Haga making a very strenuous effort to get past out of the final corner Bayliss was able to score a superb double win on his last visit to Assen.
Behind the top five were some great rides. Gregorio Lavilla yet again raced like the champion he was in the UK and managed to get seventh place from the equally impressive Jakub Smrz in the final few laps.
Positive results for Paul Bird's team and Lavilla's bike was among the very fastest through the speed traps all weekend.
Kawasaki should be very pleased with Makoto Tamada's results, the former MotoGP man scored two top ten results and looks much happier in his new home.
Karl Muggeridge raced well on his DF Honda to be only a few seconds away from the admittedly still clearly injury troubled Max Biaggi in 13th.
So, Bayliss is now 70 points in front and the talk will be of perhaps slowing down the Italian machines to try and make the racing up front more interesting.
Haga has proved he can be up there, but is over 100 points behind now in the standings. You can not take it away from Bayliss though as he would be dominant you feel on any bike.
A few riders during the weekend were outspoken about the performance of Ducati at Valencia and how apparently slow they were there so the WSBK organisers have much to think about if they do not want the championship tied up before there are three or four rounds to go.
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