WSBK » 25 June 2000
Corser gives Aprilia the double.
As the leading quartet exited the Curva Del Carro, Bayliss caught a demon slipstream from Fujiwara and effortlessly passed him on the back straight but just three corners later at the Variante Arena chicane, all hell broke loose.
As Haga flicked his bike right for the first half of the chicane, the front tyre of the Yamaha came into contact with one of the slick white rumble strips. Almost instantly the bike was down with Haga rolling away into the gravel. Luckily the Japanese rider fell out of harms way which was more than could be said for his mount. The Yamaha slid off the circuit and then back into the middle of the track on the exit to the chicane. Bayliss, Fujiwara and Borja were the first riders on the scene and had seen the fall infront of them. Nevertheless the rider-less Yamaha forced both Ducati's onto the grass but everyone remained upright. Next along was Chili, travelling like a missile and trying to make up ground on the leaders. Unaware of the unfolding drama ahead of him, Chili aligned himself for the chicane as he would have normally done only to find the stricken Yamaha directly in his path. Chili clipped the bike which sent his Suzuki into a series of violent summersaults and its rider tumbling into the sand-trap. The bike was wrecked and Chili was left crouching in the sand. It was later diagnosed that Frankie had fractured his collarbone, an injury which could mean the end of his championship challenge.
Blissfully unaware of the action behind him, Corser suddenly found himself with some breathing space once again and took full advantage, extending his lead by three seconds in the next five laps. Fujiwara was now holding down second after somehow avoiding Haga's Yamaha while the recovering Ducati pair were swiftly closing in.
Into fifth had now come Bostrom with Slight sixth ahead of Antonello, Yanagawa, an impressive Goddard and Edwards who had dropped behind both Kawasaki's in quick succession on the eighth lap.
Fujiwara did an admirable job of holding down second, benefiting from being allowed to use his own set-up on the bike rather than having it dictated to him, but gradually and relentlessly Bayliss, Borja and Bostrom reeled him in and by half distance they were together. All three Ducati's squabbled amongst themselves with Bostrom just winning in the risk stakes, putting in some very hairy manoeuvres in his efforts to pass Borja.
On lap 17 Bayliss finally found a way passed the stubborn Fujiwara by which time Corser was seven seconds up the road. Not wishing to be outdone, Bostrom then braked impossibly late at the end of the back straight to push the Suzuki back to fourth.
In the final five laps Corser eased his pace considerably, allowing Bayliss to close within four seconds of him. However the Australian had Bostrom crawling all over him, the American putting the lie well and truly to all those who believed he couldn't cut it in World Superbike circles. The same could also be said of Fujiwara who has been largely disappointing in his 18 months with Suzuki, although he was defending his fourth place with gusto.
Coming into the final chicane for the 21st time, Bostrom suddenly dived for the inside around the second half of the chicane and barged past Bayliss. However as the pair accelerated onto the start/finish straight, Bostrom lost his foot-peg and slowed momentarily which gave Bayliss his place back. Try as he might, the 1999 American Superbike champion could not get back on terms with the 1999 British Superbike champion and had to settle for third, his first podium of the year.
The podium was one of the happiest this year with Corser, Bayliss and Bostrom all very pleased with their afternoon's work. Fujiwara was not too disheartened with fourth place as he had had by far his best weekend in WSB's to date. Borja had also put in two fighting performances which will have impressed Ducati Corse, especially as Carl Fogarty is unlikely to return this year.
More than ten seconds back of the race winner, Yanagawa finished a lonely sixth after Slight's tyres went off badly in the closing stages. The New Zealander dropped to ninth at the end behind Antonello and Goddard who proved that he still has the ability to succeed on the world stage.
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