Ben Bostrom recovered from a poor start to take a convincing victory at his home track Laguna Seca in the first race of the day under the Californian sun from long-time leader Neil Hodgson
and last year's race two winner Troy Corser.
Ben Bostrom took his third win of the 2001 World Superbike Series in fine style at Laguna Seca on Sunday recovering from a tardy getaway in which he fell from pole position to sixth on the opening lap before slicing his way passed the leaders in majestic fashion and comfortably cruise home with seconds to spare.
The Californian rider appeared to suffer no visible pain from his badly injured right shoulder as he hustled the L&M Ducati around the sun-drenched 2.238-mile undulating circuit passing first Akira Yanagawa, then younger brother Eric and Championship leader Troy Bayliss
before honing in on breakaway pair Troy Corser
and Neil Hodgson.
Hodgson had led from the start on the GSE Racing Ducati but had no answer for Bostrom when the American dummied his way past the reigning British Superbike Champion at the fearsome Corkscrew turn, scene of previous stunning moves by Bostrom on Corser, Bostrom E and Bayliss. Taking the lead on lap 22 of 28 Bostrom quickly broke the challenge of Hodgson and Corser and could even afford the luxury of a few last lap wheelies as he crossed the line 1.3-seconds clear of Hodgson.
The British rider once again appeared to use the best of his tyres early in the race as he built up a two second cushion over Corser before the Australian Aprilia rider slowly began to reel him in at around half distance. However while Bostrom was able to sail past both riders at the Corkscrew, Corser could not find a way around Hodgson and settled for third place and a small gain over fourth place finisher Bayliss in the points standings.
Bayliss was in trouble from the very start on Michelin tyres that did not agree with the track surface but he plugged along gamely as Eric Bostrom kept close company behind him. Simply powerless to do anything about the Dunlop shod trio ahead of him, Bayliss focused his efforts on keeping Bostrom, E behind him and minimising his points loss to Corser and although the American rider has far more experience around the twisty Laguna Seca circuit, every one of the Kawasaki riders' attacks was successfully repelled.
Colin Edwards won himself few friends en-route to a lacklustre sixth position, 30-seconds behind Bostrom although Michelin tyres did not help his case. However Edwards may certainly have a case to answer to when the Superbike officials review footage of his lap three manoeuvre on Akira Yanagawa for sixth place at the Corkscrew in which the Castrol Honda rider appeared to push the Japanese star off the track at one of the most dangerous points on any circuit in the world. Yanagawa tried to remain upright as he bounced across the gravel going downhill to the tune of three-storeys but the sudden change in elevation when he regained the prepared surface threw him off his Kawasaki and directly into the path of Frankie Chili who had nowhere to go and bounced over the green machine. Chili landed heavily on his wrists and shoulder and was clearly in a great deal of pain afterwards and his race two participation is in doubt.
Ruben Xaus emerged ahead of a titanic struggle for seventh place and was making serious inroads into Edwards when the flag came out while Tadayuki Okada, Doug Chandler and James Toseland completed the top ten.
Regis Laconi almost beat the GSE Racing rookie across the line but had to settle for eleventh on his first visit to Laguna Seca while Gregorio Lavilla, Brock Parkes, Steve Martin
and Giovanni Bussei completed the points scorers.
Peter Goddard record Benelli's first finish of the year with 18th place and was less than ten seconds away from a World Championship point while the only other major retirement apart from Yanagawa and Chili was that of Stephane Chambon who remarkably recorded Suzuki's first mechanical failure f the entire year whilst holding down ninth place on lap17.
The riders now have a chance to regain their composure and prepare themselves for race two where Ben Bostrom
will be gunning for his first ever double World Superbike win.