Troy Bayliss increased his overall Championship lead with a superbly controlled wet weather ride under intense pressure from Neil Hodgson
on a drying Lausitzring track. Colin Edwards completed the podium but was a class below the two Ducati riders who rode with bravery and precision to top off a thoroughly absorbing race.
Heavy rain during the supporting World Supersport event at the Lausitzring ensured that all World Superbike teams and riders had a tough decision to make before the start of the second 24-lap test of the day around the by now highly treacherous, twelve turn 2.67-mile long course and it was the factory Infostrada Ducati team who handled the changing conditions best as they propelled Troy Bayliss
to his third win of the 2001 season.
The brand new tarmac may have provided a billiard-table smooth surface in race one but in wet conditions it was a totally different proposition as the track surface has not yet gained the necessary draining qualities leaving the surface deceptively slippery. Although the rain had abated by the time the WSB contenders left the dummy grid all 30 riders would start the race on wet weather tyres but a dry line was expected to emerge should the rain stay away.
Right from the start of the race it was clear that pole-sitter Neil Hodgson
and his former GSE Racing team-mate Troy Bayliss
were head and shoulders above the rest of the field as Hodgson led his Australian friend into the first corner, which thankfully everyone survived. However by the end of the first lap Bayliss found enough of a draft to pull himself alongside Hodgson and the last two British Superbike Champions swapped places going into the first corner.
From that point onwards Bayliss was never headed although to say his win was easy would be a gross understatement as Hodgson gritted his teeth and really got stuck into the Michelin shod Ducati, a combination that was expected to outshine Hodgson's Dunlop mounted machine when the conditions were really wet but conversely expected to suffer if the track dried out. During the opening ten laps the two leading protagonists pulled out more than 20-seconds over the rest of the field and traded fastest laps back and forth until Bayliss finally carved out what appeared to be a comfortable advantage.
Hodgson refused to back down however and by half distance a semi-dry line was appearing on certain sections of the track and the GSE Racing rider gradually began to cut into Bayliss' three second advantage, safe in the knowledge that his nearest pursuer was close on half a minute behind him. His mid-race spurt seemed to have Bayliss rattled and lap by lap the gap gradually began to drop as the Infostrada bike started to look increasingly ragged and by lap 17 just 1.2-seconds separated them.
Shrugging off his race one disappointment with ease, Hodgson threw caution to the wind and started pushing the bike deeper and deeper into the corners as Bayliss' looks over his shoulder became all the more frequent, but a big moment for both riders coming through the final flip-flop section cost Hodgson valuable tenths and with four laps to go the gap was back out to more than a second and a half. But then just as things looked as though they were going to calm down Hodgson retaliated once more on what as to be considered one of his most mature performances to date and as the orange and purple bike once again began to close, Bayliss missed several crucial apex's and the 27-year old Burnley rider could smell victory as they started their final lap.
Through the first chicane complex and Hodgson was visibly quicker as they headed out onto the first of two infield straights. Under braking Hodgson once again closed and as the two leaders charged down the last real straight before the end of the lap Hodgson was right underneath Bayliss but couldn't quite get alongside under braking for the final twisty section that offered no realistic passing opportunities. However the excitement wasn't finished there for as Bayliss accelerated out of the final chicane the back end of his bike suddenly got well out of shape allowing Hodgson to get one final run as they sped towards the chequered flag.
Had Hodgson been riding a full factory 2001-spec Ducati 996 the result may have been different but as it was Bayliss somehow managed to cling on by two tenths of a second to score another superb victory to add to his spectacular Monza double.