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Mar 2, 2003

Updated Post: Hodgson And Ducati Sweep Valencia World Superbike

Copyright 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Hodgson does a ‘Bayliss' with a double win season opener<BR><BR>By Glenn LeSanto<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson inherited Troy Bayliss' ride when the Australian changed over to MotoGP racing at the end of last season, and it seems he may have inherited his form too! <BR><BR>Two convincing wins for a factory Ducati rider at the first WSB meeting of the year has a familiar ring about it, Troy Bayliss did it here last season and now Hodgson is literally following in Bayliss' tyre tracks. <BR><BR>Hodgson dominated race two from start to finish and ever looked seriously threatened by second place-man and team mate Ruben Xaus. All the Spaniard could do was follow for a safe second. <BR><BR>Behind the Fila Ducati pair a repeat of the first race struggle between the two HM Plant Ducati riders was being re-enacted. This time James Toseland got the better of Chris Walker to take the third step on the podium. <BR><BR>Behind Walker Steve Martin won a race-long duel with Gregorio Lavilla to take an impressive fifth. It was Pirelli vs Michelin vs Dunlop as the three struggled for supremacy. In the end the Pirelli-shod Ducati twin clinched it from Lavilla on the Dunlop Suzuki and Corser on the FP1 Triple running Michelins.<BR><BR>World Superbike Race Two Results:<BR><BR>1. Neil Hodgson, Ducati 999F03, 36:46.191<BR>2. Ruben Xaus, Ducati 999F03, 36:48.810<BR>3. James Toseland, Ducati 998F02, 36:56.659<BR>4. Chris Walker, Ducati 998F02, 37:09.617<BR>5. Steve Martin, Ducati 998RS, 37:22.730<BR>6. Gregorio Lavilla, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 37:24.785<BR>7. Troy Corser, Foggy FP1, 37:29.160<BR>8. Juan Borja, Ducati 998RS, 37:37.816<BR>9. Lucio Pedercini, Ducati 998RS, 37:39.015<BR>10. Marco Borciani, Ducati 998RS, 37:40.912<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corsa:<BR><BR>CONVINCING DOUBLE DEBUT WIN FOR HODGSON (TEAM DUCATI FILA) AND THE DUCATI 999 AT VALENCIA <BR><BR>Valencia (Spain), Sunday 2 March: Britain's Neil Hodgson (Team Ducati Fila) took a convincing double win at Valencia today in the opening round of the 2003 World Superbike Championship. The Spanish round marked the Superbike debut of the Italian manufacturer's latest creation, the Ducati 999, and Hodgson's two wins, which took his WSBK tally to 5, were the first time the Isle of Man resident has won races outside his home country. <BR><BR>In race 1 Hodgson got a slow start but then passed compatriot Toseland down the main straight. "There was a lot of wind out there today which made the races a bit more physical because you are leaning forward and using the back brake a lot to keep the front wheel down, which was quite scary" he declared. "The early stages of race 1 were quite an experience because you have to get used to the start again after six months of no racing. I was just looking at what everyone else was doing and then made my move." <BR><BR>In race 2 Neil led from start to finish, smashing Bostrom's lap record on the way, to notch up 50 points in the first round of the season. "Fastest in every practice session, pole, lap record, double win on my worst track so I'm so pleased with everything. I made one mistake in race 2, when I was braking into the first corner with a backmarker on the inside. He moved to the outside and nearly pushed me off the track so I was screaming in my helmet, thinking it was all over." <BR><BR>Xaus slotted in behind Hodgson as the Brit took the lead in race 1 to finish second and then shadowed his Ducati Fila teammate throughout race 2 to repeat the result. "Even though the bike is good and the tyres are perfect, all this weekend things have not been working exactly the way I wanted them to" declared Ruben. "The set-up was not 100% and halfway through the race I lost Neil, so I just settled for second place. There wasn't much I could do today about my Ducati Fila teammate, who rode two excellent races. It's been a hard weekend for me with the front not quite right, but I came away with two seconds and 40 points, which is good for the championship." <BR><BR>POINTS: Riders - 1. Hodgson 50; 2. Xaus 40; 3. Toseland 29; 4. Walker 29; 5. Martin 21; 6. Lavilla 19. Manufacturers - 1. Ducati 50; 2. Suzuki 19; 3. Foggy 13; 4. Kawasaki 8; 5. Yamaha 5. <BR><BR>NEXT ROUND: Phillip Island (Australia), March 30th <BR><BR>Earlier in the morning 20-year-old Lorenzo Lanzi (Team Rox-Ducati Pisa) scored the Ducati 999's maiden win when the Italian took the chequered flag in round 1 of the European Superstock Championship. <BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Foggy Petronas Racing:<BR><BR>2003 World Superbike Championship <BR>Round 1, Valencia, Spain, Sunday 2nd March <BR>Circuit: 4.005 kms, Weather: Dry, mostly sunny 16-20 degrees C. <BR> <BR>A GREAT START FOR TROY <BR>A crash in the first race wasn't enough to dampen a great start for Troy and the new Foggy Petronas FP1 at Valencia today. Troy made up for the fall in race one by challenging for fifth spot in race two, before finally settling for seventh place towards the end of the 23-lapper. But the finish and the nine points that came with it, marked a debut that many doubters said would never take place. Both races today were won by Briton Neil Hodgson - he had dominated all the practice sessions and was in a class of his own. Runner up in both races was his Ducati team mate Ruben Xaus, with third going to Chris Walker in race one and to James Toseland in race two. <BR> <BR>TROY CORSER<BR>"I'm satisfied with race two, but disappointed in race one. But generally, I feel pretty happy with today and I think it's a great result for us all. <BR><BR>"Now I know that we're pretty close to competing with the top guys and considering how soon this project has come to fruition, I think we've done a pretty good job. Many people thought we wouldn't even get this far, so to come here, be competitive and get some good points is great. I was in ninth in race one, when I tipped off. On the inspection lap, I knew something was wrong but I thought that maybe the tyre wasn't up to temperature. Then on the first lap, I knew it was going to be a struggle. I thought that the tyre would heat up and I might be OK, but it seems that the rear had lost a bit of pressure and going into the hairpin, I ran a bit wide, then saved it and then found myself heading into the gravel. When I saw the armco getting closer, I just laid the bike down. No problem and no injury.<BR><BR>"I used the same bike and the same tyre for the second race and there were no problems. I was in fifth spot and having a good time, but I made a little mistake when I overshot the first turn and Lavilla and Martin got past me. Their bikes seemed to have a bit better acceleration and, although I could catch them on the brakes, I just couldn't get past. I'm happy with Michelins and they suit my style, but yesterday was the first time I had ever used a Michelin qualifier, so I took it a bit steady on the Superpole lap. I was really happy with the Michelin front today. The rear is a bit more of a gamble, but we're new to all this and it's going to take a bit of time.<BR><BR>"I feel generally pretty fit, but I'm lacking a little race fitness and race concentration. I haven't been on a start line for eighteen months or so, but when the lights went, it was just like old times again. So all in all - apart from the first race - I think we had a pretty good day. One thing I will say though, is that it is a great relief (for me and the whole team) to get this first race under our belt. Now we're off to Phillip Island - a track I know a bit - and I think we can look forward to some good results." <BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:<BR><BR>SOLID START FOR GREGORIO <BR><BR>2003 Superbike World Championship. Round 1, Valencia, Spain. Sunday 2nd March.<BR><BR>Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Gregorio Lavilla started the new season with a pair of solid finishes at Valencia today. After two days of mostly superb weather, today dawned overcast and that's how it stayed for most of the day - but fortunately there was no rain. Gregorio took seventh place in the first race and then went one better in the second of the 23-lappers. Briton Neil Hodgson comfortably won both races, with team mateRuben taking a pair of runner-up spots. Chris Walker and James Toseland took a third apiece to give Ducati complete control of the podium. <BR><BR>GREGORIO LAVILLA Race 1. 7th, Race 2. 6th - We've struggled a little this weekend and I don't think we ever got the bike to where would've liked. That made our life difficult and if we had found a good set-up, I'm sure the results would've been better. We changed our rear shock setting for race two and the bike felt better and also the <BR>rear tyre lasted longer and had more feeling. The Alstare Suzuki's engine feels strong - but in some areas I don't yet like - and I think we have to carry on the work we are doing in the mapping. I'm sure there's quite a bit to come, it's just a little frustrating not being able to get there quicker."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by HM Plant Ducati:<BR><BR>Toseland turns the tables<BR> <BR>James Toseland managed to turn the tables on his team-mate Chris Walker by storming to an impressive third-place finish in race two at Valencia, despite having to go out on his spare bike. The 22-year-old Brit left nothing to chance and strung 23 consistently fast laps together to earn himself the second podium placing of his SBK career behind Fila Ducati's Ruben Xaus and race winner Neil Hodgson. Walker put in a very solid performance to secure fourth place but was not quite able to catch the Yorkshire rider. This reversal of fortune sees the two HM Plant Ducati riders currently tied for third place in the overall championship standings with 29 points apiece. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>Hodgson led the race from start to finish with Xaus following in his wake. Toseland likewise doggedly refused to give up the hunt and remained hot on the heels of the Spaniard. For the first half of the race Walker matched the pace of his team-mate and the pair lapped in tandem with less than half a second separating them. However, Toseland was the one who managed to find that little bit extra and pulled away from the other orange bike – eventually finishing almost ten seconds ahead of it. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>"I had some gearbox problems with my number one bike in the first race so we decided to use the spare just in case," said Toseland. "I knew that if the bike was good I'd be able to get in the top three – and it was perfect. By about half distance I knew that I had third place in the bag if I could just maintain my lap times. It became quite a long race then but I adapted my riding style to suit the tyres. The new rubber that Dunlop has produced for us this year is superb so I just concentrated on being smooth, carrying a lot of corner speed and not getting too heavy handed with the throttle. I probably could have done faster laps here and there but consistency was what got me on the rostrum – I just wish that I'd ridden the same way in the first race then I could have had a double podium!" <BR><BR> <BR><BR>Walker was pleased with the outcome of his first two races on a twin-cylinder machine since 1996. Although Toseland was able to pull away from him, the four-time British Superbike runner-up put on a confident display and passed the chequered flag over 13 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>"I tried everything I could to stick with James," said the man nicknamed The Stalker. "My HM Plant Ducati and Dunlop tyres were faultless – I think the only thing that let me down was that I'm still not quite back to full fitness after breaking my leg. To be third equal in the championship at this is early stage of the season is an excellent position to build on and I'm going to be training really hard over the next two weeks so that I'm back on form by the time Philip Island rolls around."<BR><BR> <BR><BR>Race two result: 1. N. Hodgson (Ducati) 36:46.191; 2. R. Xaus (Ducati) +2:619; 3. J. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) +13.468; 4. C. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) +23.426; 5. S. Martin (Ducati) +36.539; 6. G. Lavilla (Suzuki) +38.594; 7. T. Corser (Foggy) +42.969; 8. J. Borja (Ducati) +51.625; 9. L. Pedercini (Ducati) +52.824; 10. M. Borciani (Ducati) +54.721; 11. G. Bussei (Yamaha) +1:00.510; 12. D. Garcia (Ducati) +1:02.114; 13. M. Sanchini (Kawasaki) +1:02.114; 14. I. Clementi (Kawasaki) +1:09.885; 15. N. Russo (Ducati) +1:17.697 <BR><BR>Points after round one: 1. Hodgson 50; 2. Xaus 40; 3.= Toseland 29; 3.= Walker 29; 5. Martin 21; 6. Lavilla 19; 7. Pedercini 15; 8. Borciani 13; 9. Laconi 11; 10. Borja 10<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Scuderia Caracchi NCR Nortel Networks: <BR><BR>Unlucky Regis Laconi, very fast Garcia at Valencia <BR><BR>(Valencia 2003, Marzo 2) <BR><BR>Actually not a lucky day for Regis Laconi the 2003 World Superbike debut race today here in Valencia circuit. In race-1 Regis found some problem on the front, ending however in fifth position after a strong fight against Corser first and the Martin. In the second leg Regis had a very fast start and was riding close behind the couple of GSE Ducatis factory '02 when the engine started to give problems, forcing the Ducati Caracchi NCR Nortel Networks rider to join the pits. <BR><BR>"In the first leg I had some trouble in the front, the bike seems to have the tyre deflated, as well Dunlop has made a control just before to start on the grid. At the start Hodgson wasn't too fast and so I must remain behind Corser that was slower as me, so the leading group took some advantage. When I overtook Corser then Martin arrived at my shoulder: he was very fast and only in final laps I've been able to earn some meter. In race-2 I started well and I was able to run together the two GSE Ducatis when, suddenly the engine started to run not correctly and I entered the pit-garage. We don't know exactly what happened, we must open the engine in the workshop. It has really a pity because it would be not easy to recover in the pointstanding table a good result throw away like this!" - commented a disappointed Regis at the end of the day. <BR><BR>The Race Direction, following the FIM/CCR rules, has not considered as a force majeure the not participation of David Garcia at the Superpole session because the bike damaged in the crash and the short time (no more as 20 minutes) between the end of the free practices and the start of Superpole. So the Spanish rider, who recorded a 14th fastest in qualifying, has been forced to start from the last position of the starting grid. But with a fantastic race David has been able to finish in tenth position in the first leg, scoring his first World Superbike points. In race-2 Garcia was riding better and better, but the pain of the crash started forced him to lose positions in the final. Almeria's rider is however very satisfied about his World Superbike debut: "When Stefano told me that I must start from the last position I feel myself like dead, but I made two good starts and at the end of the first lap I was in good position. In race-2 I was riding very well, I was fighting for the eith position, but in the final laps the pains didn't allow me to ride comfortably, I had pain in the leg and no more power in the arms for braking. Anyway I'm really satisfied about my debut in front of Spanish spectators and the result is just what I was waiting to get." <BR><BR>Valencia results: <BR><BR>Race-1 (23 laps = 91,115 km) <BR><BR>1.HODGSON Neil (Ducati) in 36'56.205 at 149,631 km/h; 2.XAUS Rueben (Ducati) at 4.700; 3.WALKER Chris (Ducati) at 12.377; 4.TOSELAND James (Ducati) at 12.682; 5.LACONI Regis (Caracchi NCR Ducati Nortel Networks) at 24.068; 6.MARTIN Steve (Ducati) at 27.006; 7.LAVILLA Gregorio (Suzuki) at 39.792; 8.PEDERCINI Lucio (Ducati) at 49.662; 9.BORCIANI Marco (Ducati) at 56.200; 10.GARCIA David (Caracchi NCR Ducati Nortel Networks) at 1'06.328 <BR><BR>Race-2 (23 laps = 91,115 km) <BR><BR>1.HODGSON in 36'46.191 at 150,311 km7h; 2.XAUS at 2.619; 3.TOSELAND at 13.468; 4.WALKER at 23.426; 5.MARTIN at 36.539; 6.LAVILLA at 38.594; 7.CORSER Troy (Foggy Petronas) at 42.969; 8.BORJA Juan Batista (Ducati) at 51.625; 9.PEDERCINI at 52.824; 10.BORCIANI at 54.721;. 12.GARCIA David (Caracchi NCR Ducati Nortel Networks) at 1'00.510 <BR><BR>World Championship Points Table <BR><BR>1.HODGSON Neil (Ducati) 50 points; 2.XAUS Rueben (Ducati) 40; 3.TOSELAND James (Ducati) 29; 4.WALKER Chris (Ducati) 29; 5.MARTIN Steve (Ducati) 21; 6.LAVILLA Gregorio (Suzuki) 19; 7.PEDERCINI Lucio (Ducati) 15; 8.BORCIANI Marco (Ducati) 13; 9.LACONI Regis (Caracchi NCR Ducati Nortel Networks) 11; 10.BORJA Juan Bautista (Ducati) 10; 11.GARCIA David (Caracchi NCR Ducati Nortel Networks) 10 <BR><BR><BR><BR>