Monza race report

Monza, a place reminiscent of fast sweeping corners, and speeds touching 300kph will be reached, as the superbikes thronged the 5.4-odd kms. circuit for the fifth round of the Superbike World Championship. Over the weekend, as the temperature ...

Monza, a place reminiscent of fast sweeping corners, and speeds touching 300kph will be reached, as the superbikes thronged the 5.4-odd kms. circuit for the fifth round of the Superbike World Championship.

Over the weekend, as the temperature arose, so to were the speeds, with Yanagawa and Okada touching 300-mark, hoisting Monza's pride as ever. The local fans had expected two things to happen. One was Chili's victory or a Ducati showdown. Though the first couldn't materialise, but certainly second proposition was strong on the cards, given the fact that Bayliss registered the Superpole, a Ducati was certainly on the horizon. As loades of people thronged the virtual homeland of Ferrari and Ducati. Not to forget was the Aprilias. This time the factory duo of Corser and Laconi were boosted by the presence of the test rider, Alessandro Antonello, who knows the circuit in the back of his mind. In fact, three Ducatis qualified on the front row of the grid with Bayliss and current British Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson taking the top two spots and Ben Bostrom in fourth. Akira Yanagawa slotted his Kawasaki in the Ducati front row. Edwards could manage only the fifth fastest time, current Championship leader Troy Corser was in sixth and the best of the Aprilias. Antonello followed suit as Reuben Xaus in the third Ducati was eighth. Chili, the cynosure of all eyes was in a lowly ninth spot. Regis Laconi in the second Aprilia was tenth.

As race one began, riders jostled for the track position as the restructured Monza circuit hosted the race for the first time. The first chicane was altered significantly with safety concerns in mind, the second chicane too was altered. Albeit altering the first chicane, as the riders hurriedly tried to improve their track position there was pushing and shoving with three riders almost involving in a tangle which left the rest of the pack scraping through the chicane. Steve Martin, Robert Ulm and Stefano Foti were the riders involved. Monza witnessed a host of big names crashing in the early part of the race. Rubbing salt into the wound was the case for Corser, as he tried to overcome a mediocre start, pushed too hard at the first chicane, in the process clipped the back of Pierfrancesco Chili, taking them both out of the race. Colin Edwards, Troy Bayliss changed the lead throughout the race, as both were on a hot chase for the race win. With Corser going out of the equation, it left the door wide opened for Bayliss, Edwards. As the clung on to the potential opportunity for winning the race. Bayliss was the more comfortable compared to Edwards.

In the last lap, Bayliss was trailing Edwards going into the first chicane, but a determined Bayliss, who seemed to win the race desperately, rubbed shoulders with Edwards twice leading to the final parabolica, emerging in the front to take the checkered flag. Edwards came second, but a desperate bid for the third spot between Hodgson and Xaus ended in both the riders taking to the gravel trap, which elevated Yanagawa to third ahead of his team mate, Lavilla to fourth and Regis Laconi to sixth. Ben Bostrom lost his front end and beached in the gravel trap, injuring his wrist, and had to miss the second race. Okada too had to fall in the first chicane and the Honda pilot had to bring a premature end to his first race. However, the general perception was the Michelin tires were the better suited compared to Dunlops.

In the second race, Edwards got the holeshot, as the riders went through the first chicane gingerly. As a clear trend emerged, Antonello moved up to fourth in front of Chili, both having tremendous getaway. But soon the unfinished battle between Edwards and Bayliss continued, as the Ducati and Honda riders traded leads, with Bayliss emerging the victor at the end of the race. Edwards came second claiming 40 pts., two points adrift of Corser, as Bayliss emerged a clear leader with 150 points. The circus now moves on to Donington Park in England for the sixth round of the championship.

-Venkat Ganesan

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Neil Hodgson , Steve Martin , Alessandro Antonello , Troy Corser , Robert Ulm , Akira Yanagawa , Laconi Régis , Ben Bostrom