Two wins for Ducati Fila-Michelin.
Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila-Michelin) won race 1 and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila-Michelin) followed suit in race 2 at the 2003 World Superbike championship finale, in France. Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) was 8th in race 1.
A good start gave Neil Hodgson the means to control the race despite a strong challenge from his team-mate Ruben Xaus in the latter stages. Although he had to settle for 2nd place, 0.3 seconds down on Hodgson, Xaus had the satisfaction of the being the fas test Superbike rider at Magny-Cours. The Spaniard, who set the fastest lap in the race (1m41.227), took the unofficial outright lap record during free practice with an impressive time of 1m40.754. Chris Walker (HM Plant Ducati) was 3rd, 13 seconds down on the winner and 2 tenths ahead of Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki). James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) was 5th in front of Régis Laconi (Ducati). With both men fighting for 3rd in the final standings, Laconi would therefore go into race 2 with a 16 point adv antage over Magny-Cours poleman James Toseland.
"This race was part of our development program," commented Petronas team owner Carl Fogarty. "But next year we'll be looking for some strong results. Our aim is for a top 6 finish at the first race in Valencia next year. We know what the problems we still have to solve are. Now the real work begins."
Another great start for Neil Hodgson. The 2003 World Champion was followed by James Toseland, Chris Walker, Pierfrancesco Chili (PSG-1 Ducati), Régis Laconi and Ruben Xaus. Hodgson stayed in front until lap 13 when an extremely determined Ruben Xaus took o ver his lead. Toseland was still 3rd ahead of Walker and Lavilla. A mechanical problem forced the unfortunate Laconi to make an unscheduled pit stop and the Frenchman went from 6th to 16th. The incident meant Toseland would end up 3rd in the championship. Hodgson ended his dominant 2003 season on the ground. His crash gave Xaus a clear run to the last win of the year, 10.4 seconds ahead of James Toseland with Chris Walker 10.5 seconds down and Gregorio Lavilla 22.2 seconds down.
"Our aim was to win the title for the Ducati 999's first season and that's what we've done," smiled Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati team director. "Ducati won all 24 races this year and 20 of those wins went to the 999. We have our technical partners to thank for s uch a strong season, including Michelin and Shell Advance."
Since the start of the world Superbike championship in 1988, Michelin riders have won 269 races out of 385 and 12 out of 16 World Titles. Michelin won 25 out of 26 races in 2002 and 20 out of 22 this year.