WSS: Laverty wins Assen thriller
26 April 2009
A brave last corner move by Eugene Laverty has seen him snatch a second World Supersport victory of the season following another thrilling race at Assen, Netherlands.
Mirroring the dramatic final lap enjoyed by their Superbike counterparts earlier in the day, Laverty, Cal Crutchlow and Joan Lascorz gave a marvellous display of aggressive riding through the concluding bends,
However, while he was down to third just a few corners from the finish, it was Laverty who prevailed when he denied Lascorz victory into the final turn chicane, before resisting Crutchlow to the chequered flag – the top three would be separated by just 0.178secs.
Another enjoyably close Supersport race from start to finish, Crutchlow had been hot favourite initially but a desperately slow getaway, prompted by a gear selection problem, saw him down in tenth from the start.
Instead, it was Ten Kate Honda that made the running initially, Kenan Sofuoglu ahead of the fast-starting Andrew Pitt, but the usual hustle over the next few laps would see them slip back behind as Lascorz and Laverty returned to the fore.
Between them, Lascorz and Laverty led for the majority of the race, swapping the lead on numerous occasions while their rivals battled close behind.
Chief amongst the protagonists was the recovering Crutchlow and Yamaha team-mate Fabien Foret, who was enjoying arguably his most competitive ride for some time just outside the top five. Indeed, with Crutchlow was making rapid progress through the field, Foret sprung a surprise by producing a risky outside overtaking move at the final corner and catching the British rider unawares.
From here, he gradually climbed the order, getting as high as second position before falling back into the clutches of Crutchlow in the battle for third place.
However, their battle came to a head on lap 16 when Crutchlow dived down the inside of Foret at the hairpin, forcing both riders wide and losing them time. Seizing the chance to pounce, Pitt attempted to pass both but instead slid off his Ten Kate Honda, before his arm was clipped by the recovering Crutchlow. Although able to extricate himself from the gravel, Pitt appeared to be in some discomfort as he nursed his arm.
With a substantial gap having formed between Laverty and Lascorz out front and the delayed Crutchlow down in third, the battle for victory looked as though it would come down to the Honda and Kawasaki rider.
However, the combination of their fight, which included Lascorz grabbing the lead from Laverty on the penultimate lap, and Crutchlow's searing pace in clear air meant there was soon nothing between them.
It could have ended much worse for Crutchlow after he almost high-sided whilst attempting to wrest second from Laverty, the British rider nonetheless clinging on to make it a three-way battle for the win heading into the final lap.
Entering the lap in the order of Lascorz, Laverty and Crutchlow, Lascorz did not appear comfortable on the Kawasaki through the opening bends, but he was doing a fine job of resisting Laverty first and then Crutchlow, who had overtaken Laverty mid-way around the lap.
However, when Crutchlow was baulked by Lascorz's defences, Laverty swept back through and immediately began pressuring the Kawasaki. With only two corners remaining, Laverty chose to run out wide on the penultimate bend, giving him the inside line into the slow last corner chicane.
The tactic worked perfectly and Lascorz found himself unable to resist the Parkalgar Honda, with Laverty muscling through and sprinting over the short run to the finish line to complete a second WSS win for both himself and the Parkalgar team.
Crutchlow also capitalised on Laverty's set up, pouncing on Lascorz to claim second and move clear in the fight for the championship. Third for Lascorz signals Kawasaki's first since 2007.
Unable to maintain the breathless pace of the leaders, Foret had to settle for fourth position, ahead of Sofuoglu on an unusually tough day for home favourites Ten Kate.
Mark Aitchison and Anthony West finished a distant sixth and seventh, while Barry Veneman kept his home fans happy with a decent run to eighth. Robbin Harms and Michele Pirro completed the top ten,
Elsewhere, a mention should go to Garry McCoy, who was given a drive-thru penalty for jumping the start but fought back to 15th and a single point.