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May 11, 2002

Klaffenbock Beats Webster By Inches In Monza Sidecar Thriller

From a press release:<BR><BR>Klaus Klaffenbock narrowly defeated arch-rival Steve Webster in a stunning Superside battle at Monza.<BR><BR>After 14 action-packed laps Klaus Klaffenbock crossed the finish line only 0.142-second ahead. The pair were locked in a titanic battle for the final laps after Klaffenbock hunted Webster down to produce a thrilling finish.<BR><BR>Earlier in the race Markus Schlosser fought with Webbo and Klaffi in a sensational three-way dice that often saw them three abreast heading into the Parabolica curve. The three swapped the lead and seemed incredibly closely matched, with Schlosser even out-dragging Webbo down the long Monza main straight. At one point they even swapped the lead three times in one corner!<BR><BR>But the battle proved too hot for Schlosser, who started to drop off the pace as his motor waned. His Suzuki mill eventually gave up the ghost on lap 13 leaving Klaffi and Webbo to fight amongst themselves over the result.<BR><BR>Webster was dealt a few blows on the final laps when backmarkers baulked him as the leaders started to lap slower outfits. But he recovered all the ground he lost carving through the backmarkers to close down on Klaffi for the final-lap decider. The two were nose-to-tail as they entered the final turn. Then, as they raced onto the final straight, Webbo pulled out of Klaffi's slipstream and only missed out on victory by a matter of centimetres.<BR><BR>"It was a fair race," said Webster afterwards, "and it was also a great race!"<BR><BR>Klaffi also enjoyed himself; "That was pure fun! It's a shame that not all the races are so enjoyable."<BR><BR>Klaffi's passenger joined in the spirit of things saying; "We couldn't have had better race for our first win of the season!"<BR><BR>During the race Klaffi seemed able to outbrake Webster at will, using the lower weight of his R1/LCR combination to full advantage. The surprise came when he also showed he could power past Webster on the main straight. "My engine was sensational - I was able to overtake all the other outfits when I pulled out of their slipstream," he said.<BR><BR>After the race Webster's Liveonscreen.com team admitted that they had lowered the compression ratio on his Suzuki engine in order to avoid a repeat of the reliability problems he had suffered in qualifying.<BR><BR>Steve Abbott moved steadily through the field after an appalling start to grab a useful third place. "I thought I stood a good chance of winning the race today if I got a good start," said Abbott. "Unfortunately I got a terrible start!"<BR><BR>Jorg Steinhausen and passenger Trevor Hopkins bounced back from their spot of upside-down grass-tracking earlier in the day to finish a creditable fourth.<BR><BR>Liveonscreen.com's Stuart ‘Spotty' Muldoon was another victim of the intensity of battle, or at least his motor was. They were forced to retire after only six laps with engine failure. The team found the remains of an inlet valve seat in his airbox after the race. That the part was fired out through the carburettor suggested that Muldoon had the throttle pinned wide open at the time of the failure!<BR><BR>The thrilling race, undoubtedly the best of the season so far, will go down in history as one of Superside's all-time classics.