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Tyres critical as Edwards romps home
10 June 2001
Colin Edwards won the first ever World Superbike race at the brand new Lausitzring circuit in Germany after holding off Troy Bayliss for much of the race on a day where a Michelin was the tyre to have.
Factory Castrol Honda rider Colin Edwards made history by becoming the first ever winner of a World Superbike race at the impressive new Lausitzring facility in the former East Germany as he led the opening 23-lap encounter from start to finish. Edwards' triumph came under intense pressure from start to finish, firstly from Neil Hodgson and then Championship leader Troy Bayliss when the Englishman's Dunlop tyres began to go stale shortly after half distance.
Michelin tyres were definitely the preferred option in race one as the Dunlop shod Hodgson and Troy Corser found to their cost with the softer Dunlop's badly blistering during the second half of the race. Pole-sitter Hodgson eventually fell back to eighth place while Corser managed to hold on to fifth as he watched Edwards replace him as the second place-man in the point's standings.
The defending World Superbike Champion was as cool as a cucumber throughout the 23-lap encounter as he first held off a determined looking Hodgson and then toyed with the Infostrada Ducati of Bayliss until the finish. Bayliss looked faster through the technical middle portion of the track but Edwards was superior on straight-line speed and under braking and the gap between the two ebbed and flowed between half a second and 1.5-seconds with the second Castrol Honda of Tadayuki Okada keeping a close watching brief in third after dispensing with Corser, Hodgson and the injured Ben Bostrom in the opening five laps.
After qualifying pointed towards a tremendously close battle, many people were disappointed with the lack of overtaking for although the racing at the front was close, passing opportunities were few and far between and Bayliss was unable to get alongside the Texas Tornado who crossed the line with six tenths of a second to spare for his third win of the 2001 season.
Okada completed the podium a fraction over two-seconds in arrears as Michelin swept the podium with the fastest Dunlop rider being the Suzuki of Frankie Chili who brought extra life into the race with a gritty charge from eighth in the early going. The veteran Italian who turns 37 later this month, found a way past Bostrom and Regis Laconi inside the opening ten laps and then stealthily closed on Hodgson and Corser, enveloping the GSE Racing Ducati with ease on lap 16 and then picking his moment on Corser carefully at the end of the infield straight four laps before the flag to extend his impressive finishing streak.
Corser's factory Aprilia came under intense pressure on the final lap from Gregorio Lavilla on the quickest of the Kawasaki's but the Spaniard just failed to usurp the Australian and had to settle for sixth, a result he would have been more than pleased with at the start of the race when his ZX-7RR stalled and forced the original start to be abandoned, thus reducing the race from 24 to 23 laps. The Fuchs Kawasaki team had a nightmare start to the original race when both Lavilla and Akira Yanagawa left the grid with technical problems forcing both to start the second citing lap from the pit-lane and although Lavilla got the bit between his teeth when the lights finally went out, Yanagawa's lack of pace was a mystery and he could only muster 12th place.
Frenchman Regis Laconi on the second of the Aprilia's remained in a tight scrap with Lavilla and Hodgson in the closing stages and was eventually able to pick of the privateer Ducati rider with ease two laps before the end to claim seventh spot as Hodgson fell back into the clutches of Hitoyasu Izutsu, Stephane Chambon and Bostrom.
Izutsu showed well on the third factory Kawasaki and initially led his two Fuchs stable mates before falling behind Lavilla and the reigning All Japan Superbike Champion found himself entertaining Bostrom and Chambon for the second half of the race.
Bostrom, whose shoulder was actually hurting more after Donington Park than it was before, made a great start and was third at the end of the opening lap behind Edwards and Hodgson but a combination of tyres and the painful joint saw him fall back through the field to the extent that he was eighth after just seven laps. From that point however the L&M Ducati found a pace that both it and the rider were reasonably comfortable with and the Californian kept Izutsu honest before losing out to Chambon on the second Alstare Corona Suzuki on the very last lap to eventually take eleventh.
Behind Yanagawa, Marty Craggill, Broc Parkes and Steve Martin completed the points scorers and all three richly deserve it after performing well all weekend while Bertrand Stey was the first man to miss out in 16th place.
Ruben Xaus on the second Infostrada Ducati was found to have jumped the start and was forced off the track from 13th place on lap three to take a stop and go penalty. This seemed to deflate the Spaniard who then made less than startling progress to 19th place overall, more than a minute behind Edwards.
No less than 23 of the 30 starters were still running at the end of the event with wildcard Matteo Campana bringing up the rear of the field on his DCR Ducati but sadly not amongst the finishers was James Toseland on the second GSE Racing Ducati who fell foul of another mechanical glitch on lap 14 whilst challenging Parkes for a points scoring position.
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