Sep 30, 2001
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By Glenn Le Santo<BR><BR>If you thought World Superbike racing was in decline, then think again. Ruben Xaus, Troy Bayliss and Regis Laconi showed why the series is still so popular with the people who matter, the spectators, with a memorable display of ultra-close racing in the first World Superbike race at Imola. The three fought hard for most of the race distance, with the lead constantly changing hands as the trio gave everything they had to gain an advantage.<BR><BR>Any of the three could have snatched the win at the historic Imola circuit, but fate intervened on the penultimate lap when Bayliss lost the back end exiting the Curva Rivazza. For a split second it looked like he might save it, but as the bike whipped left and right he was unable to hold on. Bayliss dropped the Ducati right in front of Laconi's Aprilia.<BR><BR>Luckless Laconi, who was right behind Bayliss at the time, was skittled by Bayliss' careering bike, sending them both tumbling across the track in an ugly-looking incident. Unfortunately Bayliss broke his collarbone in the incident while Laconi was shaken but uninjured. Laconi had amply demonstrated that he's a force to be reckoned with in World Superbike racing with a brilliant display of hard racing up until the crash. Xaus had no idea what had occurred behind him and continued to ride like his life depended<BR>upon it, almost crashing as he ran over the curb halfway round the final lap. But he stayed on to take another Superbike win.<BR><BR>Troy Corser inherited second as a result of the crash, with Colin Edwards snatching third. Edwards' fellow American, Ben Bostrom was fourth and Okada fifth.<BR><BR>Results follow:<BR><BR>1. Ruben Xaus, Spain, Ducati, 38:42.598<BR>2. Troy Corser, Australia, Aprilia, -3.601 seconds<BR>3. Colin Edwards, USA, Honda, -4.079<BR>4. Ben Bostrom, USA, Ducati, -6.340<BR>5. Tadayuki Okada, Japan, Honda, -13.737<BR>6. Steve Martin, Australia, Ducati, -21.421<BR>7. Gregorio Lavilla, Spain, Kawasaki, -24.100<BR>8. Stephane Chambon, France, Suzuki, -24.280<BR>9. Lucio Pedercini, Italy, Ducati, -46.537<BR>10. Neil Hodgson, Great Britain, Ducati, -49.078<BR><BR>DNFs included James Toseland, Troy Bayliss, Pierfrancesco Chili.<BR><BR>James Ellison rode a mature and patient race to retain his European Superstock title Sunday at the historic Imola circuit in Italy. Even if his championship rival Walter Tortoroglio won the race, all Ellison needed to do was finish fourth. Ellison knew exactly what the position was before the race and was content to sit at the back of a group of four riders who broke away from the pack early in the race. <BR><BR>Torto, as the likeable Italian is known, rode the wheels off his GSX-R1000, leading the race from start to finish. But with Ellison taking no risks and simply hanging on to the back of the four-man leading pack, it was a frustrating race for Torto.<BR><BR>Ellsion's fellow British rider Marty Nutt did most of the work for Ellison by running in second and harrying the Italian for the first half of the race. When Nutt made a mistake and dropped back into third, Torto had the lead to himself, and managed to make a small breakaway. To compound Torto's dilemma Ellison slipped past Nutt late in the race to widen the points gap even further. The pressure started to show on Tortoroglio, who almost crashed as he ran wide over the rumble strips and got his Suzuki sideways in what could have been a decisive moment.<BR><BR>Although Torto no doubt enjoyed another race win, it wasn't enough to clinch the title, which went to Ellison by 162 points to Torto's 157. To compound Torto's disappointment the unfortunate Italian dropped his bike on the slow down lap!<BR><BR>Ellison, still only 19 years old, is the only British rider to win an International Championship in 2001.<BR><BR>Results follow:<BR><BR>1. Walter Tortoroglio, Italy, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 25:18.608<BR>2. Markus Wesscheider, Italy, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -3.009 seconds<BR>3. James Ellison, Great Britain, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -4.805<BR>4. Marty Nutt, Great Britain, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -6.045<BR>5. Mark Heckles, Great Britain, Honda CBR929RR, -6.315<BR>6. Gianluca Vizziello, Italy, Yamaha YZF-R1, -11.699<BR>7. Olivier Four, France, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -11.699<BR>8. Lorenzo Mauri, Italy, Ducati, -27.469<BR>9. Andy Notman, Great Britain, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -27.520<BR>10. Ludovic Fourreau, France, Suzuki GSX-R1000, -29.727<BR><BR>Final points:<BR>1. Ellison, 162<BR>2. Tortoroglio, 157<BR>3. Heckles, 104