Assen: Michelin race report

Hodgson is new champ Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila-Michelin) took a win and a second place at Assen today-- and the world title. It is Michelin's 12th title in 16 seasons of World Superbike racing. Race one. Neil Hodgson led the first lap...

Hodgson is new champ

Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila-Michelin) took a win and a second place at Assen today-- and the world title. It is Michelin's 12th title in 16 seasons of World Superbike racing.

Race one.

Neil Hodgson led the first lap followed by Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki), Pierfrancesco Chili (PSG-1 Ducati) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila-Michelin). Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) started ninth. After crashing in practice, Vittorio Iannuzz o (Alstare Suzuki) and James Haydon (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) were both non-starters. On lap two Lavilla passed Hodgson to take the lead with Chili third and Xaus fourth. The Suzuki rider crashed a lap later. Xaus and Hodgson then swapped the lead s everal times with Chili and James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) not far behind. The lead changed nine times in 16 laps! Xaus led on lap 6, Hodgson on lap 9, Xaus on lap 11, Hodgson on lap 12, still Hodgson on lap 15 and... Xaus won the race.

A sixth place finish was Troy Corser's second best result of the year (he was fifth at Phillip Island). "That's what I thought we were capable of going into this round so I am happy for myself and glad to give the whole team a lift," he said. "The bike ran consistently throughout the race and the temperature stayed consistent. My Michelin tyres were also good. I won't want to change anything with the chassis for race two." Xaus' race time was 33m07.249, a little slower than the first leg race time last year (Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) won with a time of 32m58.601). Edwards' lap record, set last year at 2m02.395, also still stands. The best lap of today's first ra ce was set Gregorio Lavilla with a time of 2m03.081.

Race two

Hodgson led once again, this time followed by Xaus, Regis Laconi (Ducati), Lavilla, Toseland and Chili. After a few laps Hodgson, Xaus and Lavilla started pulling away from the fight for fourth place between Laconi, Chili and Toseland. On lap 11 the positi ons hadn't changed for the top three with Hodgson, Xaus and Lavilla, but Toseland found a way past Chili and Laconi. Hodgson set the fastest time on lap 13 at 2m02.733 and at the same time, fellow Brit Toseland was forced to retire. One lap later Lavilla s tarted loosing his battle to keep the leading Ducati duo in his sights. Trying to avoid a repeat of the first leg finish, Hodgson pulled out all the stops. Taking full advantage of his Michelin tyres' consistency and endurance, he set a new lap record (2m0 2.649) on the last lap and won the race.Troy Corser finished ninth.

Since the start of the world Superbike championship in 1988, Michelin riders have won 264 races out of 383 and taken 12 out of 16 world titles. Michelin has won 15 races out of 20 this year.

Chili not in favour of the new tyre rules.

Assen poleman Pierfrancesco Chili spoke out against the proposed single tyre manufacturer rule for 2004. "There is a new tyre rule that I don't like," he said. "This year we are riding only one second slower than Rossi and I want to go faster next year, fa ster every year. But I think that if they introduce this rule then we will go too slow. Unless they change this rule, I do not think I will be here next year."

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