Hodgson controls race two.

Behind Hodgson during the opening laps lay a train of eight bikes all still in contention for the podium headed by Bayliss, Edwards, the electric Noriyuki Haga who had risen from 14th to fourth on the opening lap, Frankie Chili, Chris Walker, Akira Yanagawa, Aaron Slight and Lavilla.

Even as early as lap five there was no-one else in the race and British hopes took a dive when John Reynolds, who had risen magnificently to fourth in the opening race, holed a radiator and had to retire.

The pace during the early laps was simply astonishing with Hodgson breaking the lap record no less than four times in the first half of the race. The gap back to Bayliss increased tenth by tenth during the first ten laps and the Australian rider remained in a threatening position until just after half distance when Neil put in a series of stunning laps to blow the gap open and put the race beyond doubt.

The crowd, sensing that they were witnessing a virtuoso performance reacted accordingly and spurred Neil on as the gap grew to almost seven seconds with just five laps to go. After the race Neil admitted to losing concentration in the closing laps although to the casual spectator this was not apparent as the Ducati continued to circulate at impressive speeds until the final few hundred metres when Neil allowed himself a wheelie and a wave to the crowd as he cruised across the line to scenes of utter jubilation. If Carl Fogarty does decide to retire, Britain's next hero is waiting in the wings.

Bayliss was second but a beaten man. The mercurial Australian had pushed and pushed for the entire race, never once easing up and although Hodgson suddenly blew the gap out at two thirds distance it was down to Hodgson picking up his pace rather than Bayliss slowing. Still, with a win and a second each, honours were just about even between Infostrada and GSE.

Eight seconds behind the winner, Chili took a popular third after a race long scrap with Haga's Yamaha. Possibly two of the most spectacular riders in WSB today, Chili and Haga gradually swallowed up the Honda of Edwards which was suffering from an 'off' rear tyre. By lap eleven the trio were together with Haga sitting behind Chili hoping to cash in on any possible mistake from the Italian.

As difficult as the Honda was to tame, Edwards manfully repelled Chili's challenge until lap 14 when Haga decided that he wanted to pressure the American, tucking underneath the Suzuki at Surtees. The Japanese rider took little more than a lap and a half to depose Edwards with a superb move at Clearways, Chili following him past at Paddock.

The battle was now on for the final podium position with the two showmen never more than three bike lengths apart, swapping places on several occasions before Chili was able to make the decisive move five laps from home. The Italian has a massive British following and the fans showed their appreciation for all three podium finishers.

Haga was disappointed with fourth but was safe in the knowledge that Corser had not added to his score and that Edwards was some way behind him. Colin dropped to sixth in the closing stages behind Yanagawa who also saw off a race long challenge from Walker. Had the race lasted two or three laps longer then the fans would have been treated to the National Tyres Suzuki of Walker hunting down and passing the Championship leader but sadly for Walker, time ran out and he fell just one second shy.

The battle for eighth place was effectively settled on lap 14 when Slight slid into the gravel trap at Druids, damaging the Honda beyond immediate repair. That left Lavilla on his own and the Spaniard continued his lonely race until the very end, his pelvis causing too much discomfort to allow him to challenge Walker.

Related Pictures

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Reiterberger, Brookes, race 2, Australian WSBK 2017
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Cluzel crash, WSS600 race, Australian WSBK 2017

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