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Chili survives race one carnage for victory.

Frankie Chili opened his long overdue 2003 victory account with a measured performance at hot and sticky Laguna Seca on Sunday by taking the first 28-lap race when erstwhile leaders Ruben Xaus and Regis Laconi crashed.

The veteran Italian Team PSG-1 Ducati rider was lucky even to e able to take the start of the 28-lap race after a major pile-up at the first corner caused extensive damage to Chili's machine. However with more than half a dozen bikes laying strewn across the track the race was restarted and riders allowed to use their spare machines, including Chili.

But even on their second chance, the dusty 2.238-mile Laguna Seca track caught out more than its fair share of victims, including runaway leader Xaus and Frenchman Laconi, who had also assumed the lead on his NCR Ducati when he crashed on lap 16. Suzuki's Gregorio Lavilla also challenged for an unlikely victory before he too crashed out.

All this left Chili with a three second lead over Neil Hodgson's factory Fila Ducati when the chequered flag finally fell with HM Plant rider James Toseland completing the podium.

Polesitter Mat Mladin shone in the early stages but gradually dropped back on his Yoshimura Suzuki to fourth place at the flag while Chris Walker only just held off Mladin's teammate Aaron Yates for fifth place.

With Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom the only one of the original 23 starters not to take the restart having injured his shoulder, Italy's Giovanni Bussei, Troy Corser, Mauro Sanchini and Marco Borciani rounded out the top ten with Borciani's D.F.X Racing teammate Juan Borja, Honda's Water Tortoroglio and Team Pedercini stand-in Luca Pedersoli the only other classified finishers.



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