Imola (Italy), 28 September '03: Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila) scored a superb double victory at Imola today to clinch second place in the championship and help Ducati Fila score a resounding 1-2 finish in the standings. Championship winner Neil Hodgson battled with his Spanish team-mate in race 1 to finish second but was relegated to fourth place in race 2 after a trip into the gravel at the Tosa.
"I wanted to win today. My plan was to start from pole, be first into the first corner and win, win because I know I had a good set-up and good pace" declared Ruben. "In the second race Neil was braking really hard and then I was second. He was fast in some places and I was faster in others, so it was not easy to be behind him. I wanted to pass but couldn't so I said OK and wait. Then I was past but I didn't see that Neil had gone off. The tyres were fine, Michelin wanted to show to everyone that they can win with a street tyre design and they did today. We did even better lap times than the slick tyres in race 1. These race wins today are dedicated to my crew, because we have become a fantastic team together in the second part of the season".
Neil Hodgson gave 100% today but was not too disappointed with his results. "I always want to win and was frustrated not to. The back-markers were the same for everyone and it was really difficult to pass two side-by-side. No excuses, I rode well and Rubens won the race" declared Neil after race 1. "That's racing" he added about his trip into the gravel in the second race, "I just backed in really aggressive, the bike gripped and almost high-sided me. It was good racing today and in that second race the tyre gave a lot of feeling and grip. I know I could have got Ruben because I was riding well and I always go for the win but I'm not complaining about the result".
MICHELIN: In collaboration with its French tyre supplier Michelin, Ducati Corse fitted the 999 Factory bikes of Hodgson and Xaus with grooved rear tyres in race 2, an experiment that proved to be successful, with Xaus's win. Nicolas Goubert, Head of Michelin motorcycle racing competition declared: "We wanted to prove that well-designed grooved Michelin tyres can deliver good performance. Thanks to Ducati we have proved today that grooved tyres are well-adapted to racing motorcycles close to production like Superbikes."
FILA: With one round left in the championship, Ducati and Fila can consider 2003 to have been a remarkably successful year, the all-Italian partnership picking up the Riders' and Constructors' titles in its first season. "The agreement signed in December 2002 appointing Fila as Title Sponsor for the official Ducati Superbike team, has been successfully carried out this year" said Jon Epstein, President and CEO of Sport Brands International, the new holding company that recently completed the purchase of Fila and all of its subsidiaries. We are proud to be associated with the winning team of the 2003 World Superbike Championship and we look forward to another fantastic year in 2004".
FINAL ROUND: The final round of the 2003 World Superbike Championship will take place on October 19th at the Magny-Cours Formula 1 circuit in France, which last hosted an Superbike race in 1991. Hodgson and Xaus's Ducati 999 bikes have been running Magny-Cours WSBK promotion stickers on their swing-arms since the Assen round.
RACE 1: 1. Xaus (Ducati Fila); 2. Hodgson (Ducati Fila); 3. Laconi (NCR Ducati); 4. Lavilla (Suzuki); 5. Chili (PSG-1 Ducati); 6. Martin (DFX Ducati); 7. Corser (Petronas); 8. Sanchini (Kawasaki); etc. RACE 2 : 1. Xaus ; 2. Laconi; 3. Lavilla; 4. Hodgson; 5. Walker (HM Plant Ducati); 6. Pedercini (Ducati); 7. Corser; 8. Sanchini; etc.
POINTS : Riders - 1. Hodgson 464; 2. Xaus 341; 3. Laconi 257; 4. Toseland 240; 5. Lavilla 230; 6. Walker 202; etc. Constructors - 1. Ducati 550 ; 2. Suzuki 280; 3. Kawasaki 117; 4. Petronas 110; 5. Yamaha 63; 6. Honda 25.