Sep 2, 2001
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By Glenn Le Santo<BR><BR>Defending Superbike World Champion Colin Edwards took his Honda VTR/RC51 to a perfect win in the first race at Oschersleben, putting himself back into the battle for the Championship while points leader Troy Bayliss DNF with a mechanical problem.<BR><BR>Edwards took the lead at the first corner, piled on record lap after record lap to build a two-second cushion, then didn't look back for the rest of the race. He was helped by Akira Yanagawa, who held up the pack of V-Twins chasing Edwards long enough for the Texan to make a clean break.<BR><BR>By the time Ruben Xaus got past Yanagawa on lap four, Edwards already had a two-second cushion. Xaus piled on the pressure, but Edwards remained ice-cool, controlled the race and took a valuable win.<BR><BR>Edwards' win was made even sweeter when Bayliss, who had been charging down the leading duo, succumbed to clutch problems. Bayliss tried to nurse his machine to the finish for points, but was forced to pull into the pits on lap 18 of the 28-lap race.<BR><BR>Pole-sitter Neil Hodgson got a poor start on his Ducati, was way back in 10th by the first corner, didn't seem able to recover and was eaten up by Pierfrancesco Chili. But around middle distance Hodgson got a second wind and managed to pull a few places back, passing a struggling Troy Corser to finish seventh. Chili stayed in front of Hodgson for a well-deserved sixth place as Corser dropped back to ninth. Ben Bostrom, who also had a poor start, carved his way up through the field to take a podium finish in third.<BR><BR>The win puts Edwards right back into contention for the title. "I've had really bad chattering problems all weekend," admitted Edwards. "But we tried a new tire and it helped. Last night I lay in bed wondering how I could do two races, I have two severe cases of tennis elbow from the chatter! The chatter is still there but greatly reduced. I made a clean start to the race and managed to repeat what I did here last year. I kept a watch on my pit signals and could see Ruben was catching me so I had to dig a bit deeper. Troy retiring is unfortunate for him but it's certainly put some life back into the Championship. But it does equal up the 25 points I lost in South Africa with a DNF."<BR><BR>Ruben Xaus wasn't sure he'd have the strength to finish the race, explaining "I was still awake at 3:30 a.m. this morning trying to get some sleep. But there were so many parties going on in the paddock, with very loud music playing that I just couldn't sleep. But I am very glad to be here on the podium and I hope I can do it again in race two."<BR><BR>Xaus has been in a race winning position in World Superbikes before, and then thrown it away by crashing. "I didn't want to do the same as I did in Monza, so I pushed Edwards, but not too hard, because I could see he had a big enough gap to defend the race," Xaus said.<BR><BR>Bostrom, having won five races on the trot, didn't look at all happy with his podium place. "I didn't get off the line well," said Bostrom. "By the time I got into third there was nothing I could do, the other guys had gone. I was hoping for another win, but all the guys were riding incredible today. Tires were a problem, the track is really grippy and you can't ride to conserve them, it's all-out for lap-after-lap. There's a real tire war going on out there and you just have to let the rear slide as the tires go off and load the front. But that makes it good for the spectators!"<BR><BR><BR>First race result:<BR>1. Colin Edwards, USA (Honda) 41:23.687<BR>2. Ruben Xaus, Spain (Ducati) 41:27.042<BR>3. Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 41:38.999<BR>4. Akira Yanagawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 41:41.402<BR>5. Tady Okada, Japan (Honda) 41:45.105<BR>6. Pier-Francesco Chili, Italy (Suzuki) 41:45.380<BR>7. Neil Hodgson, GB (Ducati) 41:46.758<BR>8. Regis Laconi, France (Aprilia) 41:48.421<BR>9. Troy Corser, Australia (Aprilia) 41:52.305<BR>10. James Toseland, GB (Ducati) 41:53.751<BR><BR>Championship points:<BR>Bayliss, 303<BR>Edwards, 275<BR>Bostrom, 263<BR>Corser, 233<BR>Hodgson, 266