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Apr 22, 2001

Honda Storms Phillip Island, Second World Superbike Race Cancelled

Copyright 2001 Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By Glenn LeSanto<BR><BR>Colin Edwards won the first World Superbike race at Phillip Island and Tady Okada finished his first WSB race of the season with a well-earned second place behind teammate Edwards in appalling conditions at Phillip Island. Edwards rode a copybook race to record his second win of the season and seemed in completely in control despite lashing rain, high winds and standing water on the track surface. Okada had taken the holeshot but Troy Bayliss got by in the first corner melee. But Edwards soon took control of the race, passing Okada and then Bayliss on lap two. Bayliss finished third to take the points lead in the Superbike World Championship Series.<BR><BR>Okada, and his Castrol Honda, kept it together for the rest of the race distance, despite the terrible conditions, and recorded his first Superbike finish of the season in second place to give the Honda camp a one-two. There was no repeat of the engine problems that have plagued Okada earlier in the season, but then the conditions hardly allowed for him to push the Honda hard. <BR><BR>"That was one tough race, the most mentally demanding race of my career," Edwards admitted afterwards. "With eight laps to go I thought 'shit! How much longer is this going to last'. I knew I had to hit the front as soon as I could but I couldn't afford to make any mistakes in the traffic on that opening lap. After taking the lead I just wanted to get my head down, put in some consistent laps and make sure of a win. There was oil on the track and I had to change my lines to avoid it. I had a big moment midway through the race when I lost it on the brakes - but I stayed on the bike and just kept going.<BR><BR>"The Honda team had made some changes to the bike before the morning free practice session, fitting softer springs to the front of the bike. The changes worked so we ran with them in the race," concluded Edwards.<BR><BR>Okada was overjoyed with his second place, the first finish of the year for the hard-riding Japanese rider. Okada took the lead into the first corner but Bayliss and then Edwards got by him early in the race. He held third place until passing Bayliss on lap 14 to secure second.<BR><BR> "It was a race I wanted to finish but in the wet weather anything can happen so I knew I had a chance of a strong finish, too," said Okada. "The machine was perfect and I was just glad to see the checkered flag after a disappointing start to this season. I started closing on Colin at the end of the race but I had an idea he was taking it easy and making sure of the finish. To finish first and second - especially in those conditions - is fantastic for the team."<BR><BR>There were many fallers during the race, including Neil Hodgson who had grabbed second on the grid on his GSE Ducati in Superpole. Hodgson had a poor start after his machine wheelspun and turned sideways as he tried to launch off the soaking grid. He lost the front end coming out of MG corner trying to make up lost time. He remounted and battled his way back up to 11th. <BR><BR> Akira Yanagawa had a good race, using his experience to stay on board while others around him dropped like flies. Ruben Xaus, who had recorded the fastest race lap on lap seven, lost control on the next lap, ending his charge through the field for good. He had also crashed during the morning's warm-up. Meanwhile, Yanagawa's patience netted him a useful fourth place finish. "This bike was the best I have ever ridden in the wet," explained Yanagawa. "I felt I could push a lot harder on the wet surface than I usually can. I could catch the leading riders even though I had a lot of wheelspin off the start, this is normally very difficult for me."<BR><BR> Ben Bostrom, who had been back in an uncharacteristic 11th, crashed with only two laps left. He had been even further down the field but had been picking off riders during the race, and said "I wasn't at all comfortable out there today. I've never seen conditions like it!"<BR><BR>Troy Corser, unhappy to be racing in such conditions, finished back in sixth. "It was a matter of survival really," said Corser. "I just rode around and tried not to crash – there was nothing else to do. The rain was bad enough but the wind was something else. When I got back to the garage I asked the Dunlop technician to cut some extra grooves into my race tire, just to try and get some extra grip in race two."<BR><BR>Australian Broc Parkes had his best-ever finish in his first World Superbike season despite crashing on lap 11 at MG corner. He showed great presence of mind and kept hold of the clutch lever to keep his bike running. He only lost one place as a result of the incident.<BR><BR>The top three were all on Michelin rain tires.<BR><BR>First race result: <BR><BR>1 Colin Edwards, USA (Castrol Honda) 39m 58.665s, <BR><BR>2 Tady Okada, Japan (Castrol Honda) 40m 03.120s, <BR><BR>3 Troy Bayliss, Australia (Ducati) 40m 21.549s, <BR><BR>4 Akira Yanagawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 40m 48.396s, <BR><BR>5 Broc Parkes, Australia (Ducati) 41m 15.848s, <BR><BR>6 Troy Corser, Australia (Aprilia) 41m 16.663s, <BR><BR>7 Pier-Francesco Chili, Italy (Suzuki) 41m 37.275s,<BR><BR>8 Stephane Chambon, France (Suzuki) 41m 38.304s, <BR><BR>9 Robert Ulm, Austria (Ducati) one lap down, <BR><BR>10 Martin Craggill, Australia (Ducati) one lap down.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>Australians dominate wet Supersport race<BR><BR>Australian riders dominated their home round of the World Supersport championship at Phillip Island, filling the podium after a crash-packed race in dreadful conditions. Kevin Curtain survived the rain soaked track and some entertaining early race battles to take a brilliant win, his first ever in the series. His fellow countrymen Adam Furgesson and Andrew Pitt followed him home in second and third.<BR><BR>Furgesson's podium place was a considerable achievement given that he had crashed badly in pre-season testing and broken his pelvis, femur and collarbone. He limped up the podium steps with a big smile to collect his first piece of Supersport silverware in what was his debut race at world level. Andrew Pitt also survived the conditions and the aggressive riding of all the leading bikes to get third place.<BR><BR>James Whitham crashed out while in fourth. Fujiwara, MacPherson and Vermeulen also all crashed out while fighting for a podium finish.<BR><BR>"I still can't believe it, it's just so awesome to win near home," said Curtain after the race. "We have a very good package which will help us to achieve the same in the future."<BR><BR>"You couldn't see which way the corners were going," commented Pitt. "It was just a case of trying to survive to the end."<BR><BR>"It was a good way to make a comeback," said Fergusson. "I was very down after missing Valencia, and I'm still only 90% fit. If it had been dry I might have struggled to make it to the finish, so in a way the wet helped me a little."<BR><BR>All three podium men were riding on Michelin rain tires.<BR> <BR><BR>World Supersport championship round two, race result: <BR><BR>1 Kevin Curtain, Australia (Honda) 39m 32.490s, <BR><BR>2 Adam Fergusson, Australia (Honda) 39m 34.710s, <BR><BR>3 Andrew Pitt, Australia (Kawasaki) 39m 45.164s, <BR><BR>4 Vittoriano Guareschi, Italy (Ducati) 39m 50.105s, <BR><BR>5 Pere Riba, Spain (Honda) 39m 52.653s, <BR><BR>6 Dean Thomas, Australia (Ducati) 39m 56.389s, <BR><BR>7 Paolo Casoli, Italy (Yamaha) 40m 04.234s, <BR><BR>8 Jorg Teuchert, Germany (Yamaha) 40m 26.151s, <BR><BR>9 Ivan Goi, Italy (Honda) 40m 28.687s, <BR><BR>10 Christophe Cogan, France (Yamaha) 40m 32.461s.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>World Supersport championship points after two of 11 rounds:<BR><BR>1 Curtain and Riba 36, <BR><BR>3 Piergiorgio Bontempi, Italy (Yamaha) 22, <BR><BR>4 Pitt and Guareschi 21,<BR><BR>6 Fergusson 20, <BR><BR>7 Christian Kellner, Germany (Yamaha) 16, <BR><BR>8 Cogan 15, <BR><BR>9 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan (Suzuki) and Casoli 13.<BR><BR>Manufacturers points: 1 Honda 50, 2 Yamaha 29, 3 Kawasaki and Ducati 21, 5<BR><BR>Suzuki 14.<BR><BR>Next round: Sugo, Japan - April 29 2001<BR><BR> <BR><BR>Second Superbike Race Washed Out<BR><BR>The second race in the Phillip Island round of the World Superbike championship was abandoned after torrential rain caused chaos at the meeting. Before the organizers made the decision to stop the racing there was controversy as Troy Corser tried to persuade other riders to join him in boycotting the race. Out on the track rivers of water and mud flowed across the racing line and pools two feet deep began to appear at the edge of the track. The organizers decided that Steve Martin and Edwards should take a sighting lap to check the conditions.<BR><BR>When Colin Edwards arrived back in the pits his body language soon made his opinion of the conditions obvious as he gave an emphatic thumbs down. "I really want the points," said Edwards, "but this is ridiculous. There are rivers of water and mud across the track. On that lap I came around Hay Shed, taking it really easy, and still the front just went away and I almost lost it. There is no way you can race in that." Edwards also gave his version of the events leading up to the race being called off. "The organizers didn't seem to want to make the call, and after some discussion they asked us to take this sighting lap and tell them what we thought. When we got back after the lap Steve just looked over at me and gave the thumbs down. It was better that it was done with just two riders as if we had all gone out then some of the riders would just have gridded up and that would have made it difficult for us to call it off."<BR><BR>Minutes before the race was called off Corser had been at the pit lane exit, in his leathers but without his bike, helmet or gloves, approaching all the riders and attempting to persuade them not to go out. At one point an animated conversation ensued between Troy Corser and his former team manager at Ducati Corse Davide Tardozzi who seemed to be admonishing Troy Corser for trying to influence the rest of the riders. "It was nothing," claimed Tardozzi. "We were discussing the way to have the race stopped. I didn't think it was right for him to just hold up his hand asking the riders to stop. I thought that the riders should be able to go out and look for themselves. But I have known Troy a long time and there is no problem between us."<BR><BR>Troy Corser explained his actions. "The clerk of the course said it was too dangerous but the organizers wouldn't listen to him. He asked me to try to get the race stopped."<BR><BR>SBK owner Paolo Flammini said he regretted stopping the race, "But it would not be proper racing in these conditions," he said. "The race had to be stopped and it is for safety reasons we have decided to call off the rest of the meeting." Flammini denied that the decision had been caused by pressure from the riders. "No, it is not because of any action by riders, it is because you cannot race in this." <BR><BR>Giovanni Bussei, who rides for Ducati NCR was disappointed that all the riders hadn't been involved in the decision. "All the riders should have been on the sighting lap, so we could have all decided if it was safe to ride or not, it shouldn't have been decided by just one or two riders." There will be a meeting on Thursday before Sugo to discuss how situations such as this would be dealt with in the future.<BR><BR>Ben Bostrom, who had struggled in race one with the conditions and crashed on the final lap of race one, was relieved to hear the race had been called off. "To race in these conditions wouldn't have been about skill, it would have been down to luck who did and didn't crash. There's no way you can ride competitively in this," Bostrom said. When asked why he had struggled in the conditions he admitted that he hadn't felt at all comfortable riding this weekend. "I don't know why, this should suit my sliding style of riding but it hasn't worked out that way."<BR><BR>As a result of the cancellation, Troy Bayliss takes his championship lead gained in the first race to the meeting in Sugo in Japan. The World Superside race (sidecars) was also abandoned. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>First race result:<BR><BR>1 Colin Edwards, USA (Castrol Honda) 39m 58.665s, <BR><BR>2 Tady Okada, Japan (Castrol Honda) 40m 03.120s, <BR><BR>3 Troy Bayliss, Australia (Ducati) 40m 21.549s, <BR><BR>4 Akira Yanagawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 40m 48.396s, <BR><BR>5 Broc Parkes, Australia (Ducati) 41m 15.848s, <BR><BR>6 Troy Corser, Australia (Aprilia) 41m 16.663s, <BR><BR>Pier-Francesco Chili, Italy (Suzuki) 41m 37.275s, <BR><BR>8 Stephane Chambon, France (Suzuki) 41m 38.304s, <BR><BR>9 Robert Ulm, Austria (Ducati) plus one lap, <BR><BR>10 Martin Craggill, Australia (Ducati) plus one lap.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>World Superbike championship points after three of 13 rounds: <BR><BR>1 Bayliss 96, <BR><BR>2 Corser 92, <BR><BR>3 Edwards 73, <BR><BR>4 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 54, <BR><BR>5 Gregorio Lavilla, Spain (Kawasaki) and Chili 45, <BR><BR>7 Yanagawa 42, <BR><BR>8 Chambon 32, <BR><BR>9 Regis Laconi, France (Aprilia) 31, <BR><BR>10 Neil Hodgson, GB (Ducati) 29.<BR><BR>Manufacturers points: 1 Ducati 101, <BR><BR>2 Aprilia 92, <BR><BR>3 Honda 74, <BR><BR>4 Kawasaki 60,<BR><BR>5 Suzuki 45, <BR><BR>6 Yamaha 4.<BR><BR>