Roberto Panichi wins home round for the second time Roberto Panichi came on top of a race-long argument in Mugello, on the eve of the Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix, claiming his second win of the season in the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003, and ...
Roberto Panichi wins home round for the second time
Roberto Panichi came on top of a race-long argument in Mugello, on the eve of the Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix, claiming his second win of the season in the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003, and indeed his second consecutive BoxerCup victory in Mugello. The finish was so close for runner-up positions that the race direction was forced to use a photo finish to decide that Andy Hofmann had finally defeated Sébastien Legrelle for second spot by only 7 thousandths a second (!). In the provisional standings, Dream Car Team rider Panichi extends his lead to 10 points over Senger Team rider Andy Hofmann. Thanks to a remarkable recovery, Sébastien Legrelle (BMW Motorrad Belgium/Herpigny Motor) moves up to third in the championship.
"The last lap was a bit strong," admitted Roberto Panichi with a wide grin on his face as he came down from the podium. " I knew that being in the lead on the last lap wasn't necessarily the ideal position, because other riders might slipstream me after Bucine onto the finish line, but I thought I could open up a gap in that last lap and secure the win."
Panichi indeed came out of the fight on top, but things didn't quite happen as he'd expected. Coming into San Donato and Luco for the fourteenth and last time, the Italian series leader did what he had to do to fend off the attacks of Hinterreiter and Hofmann, but they kept on his tail throughout the lap, right up to the last corner. Determined as he always is, Hinterreiter (race fastest lap: 2'08""095 on lap 11) probably entered the last turn a little too fast and grounded his left cylinder heavily. As a result of this, he lost time to Panichi's benefit and allowed his followers - Hofmann, Legrelle and Barth - to fly past him on the ultimate straight to the chequered flag.
"I was glad the race ended because it was damn hard, with the race leader changing two or three times a lap," said second placed Andy Hofmann, who qualified in fourth position behind pole setter Markus Barth, Thomas Hinterreiter and ex-250cc Grand Prix rider Jürgen Fuchs, invited to compete alongside four other VIP riders, among which multiple world champion Jorge Martinez. "The tyres were starting to slide qui seriously," Hofmann continued, "and another lap in this humid heat would have been treacherous."
Lying sixth some two seconds behind the four race leaders, Sébastien Legrelle managed to pass ex-125 cc Grand Prix rider Peter Öttl for fifth, and started to charge his way through the field, moving up with the top riders as the race swung into its second half, only to take advantage of Hinterreiter's mistake on the last corner. "I'm very pleased but have no time to celebrate because I have to drive up to Belgium overnight for another race in Chimay!"
Almost ten seconds behind the leaders, another big fight was taking place for seventh place between eight riders Fremy, Cristobal, Dietrich, VIP rider Lance Isaacs from South Africa, Oulton Park winner Cooper, Rebholz and Lejeune. They eventually finished in that order, but positions also changed several times a lap. Next week in Catalunya, for the fifth round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003, they will probably still be reminiscent of this incredible race-long argument!