Laguna Seca: Michelin race report

Race one A first-corner pile-up meant the race had to be red-flagged. Several riders were involved in the incident including Pierfrancesco Chili, Aaron Yates (Suzuki), Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki), Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) and...

Race one

A first-corner pile-up meant the race had to be red-flagged. Several riders were involved in the incident including Pierfrancesco Chili, Aaron Yates (Suzuki), Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki), Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) and Neil Hodgson, but Bostr om was the only one injured (dislocated shoulder) and unable to restart. Regis Laconi (Ducati) got the best start once proceedings got underway again. He led Mat Mladin (Suzuki), Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki), Chili, Xaus, James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) and Hodgson. Xaus was having a superb ride and moved into the lead on lap 9. Unfortunately, he then crashed.

Other fallers included Clementi, Haydon (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin), Martin, Pedercini, Garcia and Lavilla. Laconi was back in front on lap 13 but four laps later, he also crashed leaving Chili in command followed by Hodgson, Toseland and Mladin. The order no longer changed for the top four positions so even though he didn't win, Hodgson still increased his cham pionship lead over Xaus. But it could all have gone so wrong after the first lap pile-up. "I jumped on the second bike," Hodgson explained." Thankfully, the team have worked hard, they always do and the bikes are just exactly the same. In fact, I don't kno w one from the other, and that's the way they've always done it."

Race two

Regis Laconi led into turn one ahead of James Toseland, Aaron Yates, Ruben Xaus and Neil Hodgson. First race winner Pierfrancesco Chili crashed on lap one. He was not injured but could not rejoin. Aaron Yates led briefly before Ruben Xaus moved ahead on la p four. Hodgson was second by that time. Hodgson passed Xaus and started pulling away with James Toseland the only rider able to follow. But on lap 18, the two Brits collided.

"He pushed me into the gravel," said Hodgson. Toseland crashed out of the race b ut Hodgson was able to continue, albeit down in 5th place behind Xaus, Walker, Lavilla and Yates. With a 13 second lead, Xaus could no longer be threatened but Hodgson still managed to get back into second before the flag. Chris Walker was third. "I'm very happy," said Xaus. "I made a small but costly mistake in the first race. I'm very glad to have won especially as so many of my Spanish fans have come over here to watch me and I know I also have a lot of fans here in America."

In the championship, Hodgson leads on 355 points, Xaus has 233 and Toseland 201.

Since the start of the world Superbike championship in 1988, Michelin riders have won 262 races out of 379 and taken 11 out of 15 world titles. Michelin won 25 races out of 26 in 2002 and 14 out of 16 races this year.

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