Laconi at the Superbike double Regis Laconi (Ducat Fila 999F04) completed a perfect weekend with victory in race two at the Imola-hosted round 10 of the Superbike World Championship in Italy on September 25-26. The Frenchman's affinity...
Laconi at the Superbike double
Regis Laconi (Ducat Fila 999F04) completed a perfect weekend with victory in race two at the Imola-hosted round 10 of the Superbike World Championship in Italy on September 25-26.
The Frenchman's affinity with the 4.933km circuit was again on full public display, as the polesitter backed up his narrow win over Australian Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) in the opening 21-lapper with an even narrower victory (0.041sec) over teammate James Toseland (999F04) in the second instalment.
The double victory was Laconi's second in 2004, with the first coming in front of his paymasters at another Italian round -- the May 16 battle at Monza.
Laconi's maximum 50pt haul has now helped him back into the championship lead ahead of next weekend's final round at Magny-Cours in France. He's again showing the way on 295pts, ahead of Toseland (291) and Vermeulen (282) - the only three riders with a realistic chance of claiming the silverware.
Noriyuki Haga (Renegade Ducati Koji 999RS, 254pts) should also have still been in the equation, but he crashed out spectacularly on lap 10 while leading from Toseland and Laconi. The plucky Japanese rider emerged unscathed, but his faint championship hopes were all but dashed in the process.
Another member of the ensemble cast to crash heavily was Vermeulen -- but on the warm-up lap! After picking up his #1 CBR1000RR and limping back to the pits, the Queenslander then had to start from pit lane on his spare machine -- with a badly bruised hand and grazed hip to contend with. In a fighting ride through the field, Vermeulen first picked off the back markers with ease, before working piecemeal through some of his more heralded opponents.
The end result of the relentless charge was a fine sixth place, behind compatriot Steve Martin (DFX Ducati 999RS) and XEROX Ducati Nortel teammates Gianluca Nannelli (999RS) and Garry McCoy (999RS). It was Nannelli's best result of the season, besting his fifth place in Germany's round five, while for Martin it was his fifth third place in what has been a bittersweet year.
At Imola, Martin (144pts) maintained his hold on seventh place in the championship behind McCoy (163) and Pierfrancesco Chili (PSG-1 Ducati 998RS, 213), the latter retiring from race two with mechanical problems.
Meanwhile, Australian Warwick Nowland (Zongshen Suzuki GSX-R1000) was 18th in race two, and is 19th in the title on 21pts.
The 4.411km Magny-Cours circuit will now crown the 10th world Superbike champion in 17 years next weekend. Of the leading trio, Toseland finished second and fifth in last year's two races, both times ahead of Laconi, while Vermeulen was second behind Karl Muggeridge in the world Supersport race.
A victory for Vermeulen would make him only the third Australian to win more than one world motorcycle road race championship, after Mick Doohan (1994-95 500 GP) and Nowland (2000/02 world endurance).