WSBK » 6 May 2000
Haga stakes his claim
Only 33 riders lined up to take the start of race two at Hockenheim after John Reynolds gave up the unequal struggle with his Red Bull Ducati on the warm up lap. The British Superbike Championship leader's demise was of little importance to many, whose eyes were fixed on the front row.
Could Colin Edwards get the start right and exploit the power of the Honda or could Troy Corser make another of his demon starts? Troy Bayliss was also there and would be looking to build on the momentum gained with his race one victory. Tension was at boiling point before the lights went to green and when they did, it was Bayliss who rocketed away from the line to lead the rest into the first turn. Behind the Australian were Akira Yanagawa after an excellent start, Edwards after an average start and Corser after a reasonable start.
It was all change into the Ostkurve as Yanagawa moved into the lead and at the end of the lap Bayliss had been muscled back into fourth by Edwards and Corser. At the final turn fifth placed Haga was attacked by Frankie Chili who nearly ran into the back of the Yamaha causing the Suzuki rider to lose momentum.
As the 33 bike snake disappeared into the countryside, Edwards snatched the lead away from Yanagawa into the first chicane and immediately drew out a small gap. Bayliss was now back in third while Corser had fallen behind Aaron Sight and Chili. There was still nothing to chose between the top dozen and in a carbon copy of race one, the top ten gradually began to draw away.
It was the usual suspects from race one at the front with Edwards leading Bayliss (who dealt with Yanagawa on lap two.) Haga was fourth ahead of Slight, Corser, Chili, Andy Meklau, Robert Ulm and Alessandro Antonello who comprised the top ten.
As in race one there was also a titanic struggle for eleventh place again involving Simon Crafar and Stephen Plater on Kawasaki's, and the Ducati trio of Ben Bostrom, James Haydon and Juan Borja. On this occasion they were joined by the last of the factory runners (Anthony Gobert having retired his Bimota on lap two) Vittoriano Guareschi and Katsuaki Fujiwara who were trying to atone for dismal race one performances where they placed 23rd and 18th respectively.
Unfortunately all British interest in this scrap soon disappeared as first Plater and then Haydon were sidelined with mechanical problems. They had made their point though.
At the sharp end of the field Bayliss was really pushing his tyres and had closed the gap on the fleeing Edwards, there was some concern in the Ducati pit that maybe Bayliss was pushing his tyres a little too hard but only time would tell. By lap five Bayliss had caught the Honda and for several laps the pair circulated as one, clear of the rest. However Bayliss soon started to look for a way past forcing Edwards to ride defensively, this in turn allowed new third place man Haga, who had seen off a spirited challenge from Yanagawa, to close up and join the lead battle.
As Haga started to push to the front, Yanagawa was left trailing in his wake but had now been joined by the recovering Chili who had earlier forced his way past both Slight and Corser. Together, these two worked as a team and gradually latched themselves onto the leaders. By lap eight just one second covered the top five with Edwards maintaining his lead while Bayliss, Haga and Yanagawa all took turns in second place. All this jostling allowed Edwards to move clear once again but almost as soon as it looked as though the American might have finally broken the lead draft, Yanagawa suddenly found a remarkable turn of speed and towed the rest of the lead group back onto Edwards' tailpipes.
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