WSS: Lascorz win forces Crutchlow to wait
4 October 2009
Cal Crutchlow needs just six points from the final round in Portugal to wrap up the World Supersport title after finishing second to Kawasaki's Joan Lascorz at Magny-Cours.
Crutchlow entered the race just two points ahead of Eugene Laverty in the standings, but a fall for the Parkalgar Honda rider mid-way through the race would very nearly hand the title to the Yamaha rider, who now requires just an tenth place finish at Portimao to seal victory.
Indeed, Crutchlow very nearly completed his objective one round early had he been able to get on terms with long-time leader Lascorz, but what was shaping up to be a thrilling end to the race was halted by an oil-related stoppage.
Prior to that, the title battle looked to be going down to the wire with barely anything to separate the two protagonists as Crutchlow and Laverty disputed second position behind Lascorz, who led from the opening turn.
Indeed, while Crutchlow seemingly had the quicker bike than Lascorz on the long run down to the Adelaide hairpin, the Kawasaki's superior braking was keeping the Yamaha at bay on every occasion.
One more failed attempt on lap twelve would actually see Crutchlow lose his position to Laverty, who was back in the lead fight despite an error earlier on that dropped him briefly to fourth.
However, while the move would see him take a provisional lead in the standings, Laverty's title dreams were all but dashed just a few corners later when he tumbled off his Honda at Chateaux d'Eau. Losing a significant amount of time, while Laverty would scramble back onto the bike and rejoin the race, he was now well out of contention.
Laverty's demise would now offer up the opportunity for Crutchlow to seal the title one round early, albeit only if he could get past Lascorz and win and Laverty didn't get back into the points.
However, the young Spaniard was providing a stern test for Crutchlow, gradually pulling a margin out over the soon-to-be World Superbike rider.
Nonetheless, far from settling for second, Crutchlow began to reapply the pressure during the closing stages, slicing the gap down to less than a second in what was destined to be a grandstand finish.
As it happens, Crutchlow's hopes of overhauling Lascorz were prevented by a red flag, deployed after an oil spillage at Lycee caused three accidents in quick succession.
With no time to restart the race, Lascorz was declared the race winner, signalling a maiden win for the Provec Motocard team, as well as a first triumph for Kawasaki since Fabien Foret won at Phillip Island in 2007.
Crutchlow had to settle for second to add 20 vital points onto his tally, giving him a 19 point buffer over Laverty, who defied a damaged bike to claw his way back up to 13th for three points of his own. It means Crutchlow needs just a top ten finish at Portugal to be crowned the champion.
Despite his rival's win, Kenan Sofuoglu continues to keep Lascorz at bay in the overall standings after finishing on the podium for the fifth time this season.
Almost 15 seconds further back, the early stoppage had also curtailed a thrilling fight for fourth position between the three Hondas of Andrew Pitt, Mark Aitchison and Anthony West, as well as the Kawasaki of Katsuaki Fujiwara.
Never separated by more than a second, all four jostled for the position, particularly on the run down to Adelaide as they capitalised on one another's slipstream. Eventually, however, it was Stiggy's West who would emerge in front – having started a lowly 16th -, ahead of Aitchison on the Althea machine and reigning champion Pitt on the Ten Kate bike. Fujiwara had to make do with seventh.
In a race of attrition that would see just 16 riders classified at the finish, Massimo Roccoli was eighth, from returnee Matthieu Lagrive, while Michele Pirro recovered to tenth after a terrible start from fifth on the grid had seen him outside the points early on.
Local rider Olivier Four was 11th, ahead of Miguel Praia, the recovering Laverty, Kev Coghlan and Arie Vos.