Troy Bayliss completed his first World Superbike double victory in fine style at Monza on Sunday as he led home defending WSBK Champion Colin Edwards by the comfortable margin of three seconds after another classic duel.
Troy Bayliss is a quick learner. On Sunday he learnt that his life would be far more stressful if he allowed Colin Edwards the merest sniff of a race win on the final lap and the Australian had to resort to some bravery of epic proportions to take his first win of the 2001 season. In the second 18 lap race of the day he made his job much more simple by demoralising the Texan during the final three laps with some stunning bike control but only after giving the rabid Monza faithful more than their money's worth in the opening 14 or so laps with another terrific duel.
On this occasion Bayliss and Edwards occupied the top two positions from the first chicane (grrr) to the chequered flag although they once again managed to swap positions more than a dozen times with Edwards preferring to make the majority of his moves going into said chicane with Bayliss opting for the far more popular (in terms of the number of loopy Ducati fans sitting in the nearest grandstand) Ascari chicane and Parabolica.
It was at the Ascari chicane on lap 13 where Bayliss made the decisive move on Edwards and although the Castrol Honda rider clung grimly to the exhaust pipes of the Infostrada Ducati mounted foe until lap 16, it was clear that Bayliss had made better use of his tyres earlier on in proceedings and Edwards dropped away steadily as the race reached its conclusion.
As in race one there was a four bike breakaway for most of the race with the second factory Honda of Tadayuki Okada and the factory Suzuki of local God Frankie Chili battling gamely with Bayliss and Edwards. Chili made a stunning start from eighth on the grid (one place above his qualifying place after the withdrawal of Ben Bostrom
who dislocated his shoulder crashing out of race one), to place third at the first turn and the 36-year old Italian made the GSX R750 beg for mercy as he hammered the living daylights out of it throughout the race.
On a bike clearly not as quick as those around it, Chili sent the Monza hordes into raptures every lap as he clung to the rear of Okada, less than one second off the lead until 12 laps were in the books when both he and Okada began to fade away. Try as he might Chili could not get alongside the more powerful Honda and as both rider's tyres cried enough they were left as easy prey for the resurgent Akira Yanagawa who spectacularly swept past them both in the closing three laps to take his second podium finish of the day.
Seven tenths of a second separated the trio as they crossed the line and despite finishing in fifth place, Chili still saw fit to deposit most of his racing attire to his adoring fans. Okada was disappointed not to make the podium but happy to have scored some more good points after another race one disaster and to have run at the very front of a World Superbike race for the first time discounting the Phillip Island lottery.
Sixth place for Ruben Xaus
made up somewhat of his race one mishap but after a stern talking to from none other than Carl Fogarty
in between races; it was possibly fear that kept Xaus upright on this occasion as he held off his race one combatant Neil Hodgson.
Hodgson made a reasonable start from second on the grid behind Bayliss but was still forced to give best to Chili and the inspired Alessandro Antonello on the first lap. As he took time to adjust to the bike, fixed after his race one problem, several other riders made their way passed the GSE Racing Ducati although after falling as low as ninth at one point, the 2000 British Superbike Champion, emerged victorious in a scrap with the Aprilia of Regis Laconi.