Edwards on top at Sugo Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda - Michelin) takes win and second place in World Superbike round four at Sugo in Japan and becomes first non-Japanese winner and first Michelin winner for seven years as pace hots up in ...
Edwards on top at Sugo
Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda - Michelin) takes win and second place in World Superbike round four at Sugo in Japan and becomes first non-Japanese winner and first Michelin winner for seven years as pace hots up in championship battle.
Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda - Michelin) became the first non-Japanese winner for seven years at the Sugo round of the World Superbike championship after winning the opening race of round four on Sunday.
Edwards was in dominant mood as he powered through from fifth place on the grid to win the opening 25-lap race, incredibly breaking the lap record 11 times and recording a race-winning time 21 seconds faster than last year's. The 28-year-old American was f orced to hold off fellow-Honda rider Makoto Tamada in the closing stages of the race as he took his 21st World Superbike race victory.
"We had a disappointing time at Sugo last year and if someone had told me I would win here a year later I wouldn't have believed them," said Edwards. "Since that race last April Michelin have really worked hard and it's credit to them and Honda for today's win."
Edwards' victory was the first by a non-Japanese rider and the first by a Michelin rider at the 2.32-mile circuit since Carl Fogarty took victory in August 1995. Polesetter Noriyuki Haga led in the early stages before fading to finish third, four seconds d own on Edwards.
Former British champion Neil Hodgson took fourth with championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) fifth. Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) crashed out of sixth place on the 18th lap, suffering two badly cut fingers on his left h and.
Tamada bounced back in race two and the double race winner of 2001 was able to get ahead with nine laps to go. As Tamada made the break Edwards was forced to work hard to overcome Hodgson, doing so with five laps remaining.
Second place for Edwards reduced the points deficit in the championship from 45 points at the start of the day to 24, with nine rounds, 18 races to go. It also gave Edwards his seventh podium finish from the eight races so far this year. Hodgson took third with Bayliss fourth as the second to fourth place battle crossed the finish line within 0.4s of each other.
Bayliss commented: "I would have liked to have been closer to Colin (Edwards) but it wasn't to be. I was closer to him last year in the races here and the championship points I lost to him were a lot less. The second race today was much better for me and t he results are not that bad considering the problems we've had."
Xaus ignored the pain from his injured fingers, decided to start the second race and was rewarded with a top 10 finish as the gritty Spaniard took ninth.