Noroyiki Haga's woes did not end yesterday, as his bike died on at the start of the grid, forcing the Japanese to start from pit row. But things at Ducati Corse were the complete opposite, as James Toseland took the hole-shot, leading...
Noroyiki Haga's woes did not end yesterday, as his bike died on at the start of the grid, forcing the Japanese to start from pit row. But things at Ducati Corse were the complete opposite, as James Toseland took the hole-shot, leading Pier-Francesco Chili and Chris Vermeulen. Pole-sitter, Steve Martin followed in fourth, chased by championship leader Regis Laconi. Vermeulen may have never seen Laguna Seca until Friday, but this did not keep him from putting up a show, as he overtook veteran, Chili, on his chase for Toseland.
To say Vermeulen was hungry for a win is an understatement, as he closed the gap to Toseland within a couple of laps. Tired of following, Vermeulen drag-raced his way past Toseland on the front straight to lead going into turn one.
Haga is not popular due to his looks, but because of his performances. Laguna Seca 2004 was no exception, as the Japanese Samurai climbed himself to 10th after starting from pit row on his chase for Troy Corser.
Though Toseland led early on, the British was not able to maintain the pace being set by Vermeulen. As a result Toseland began to come into the clutches of Chili in third.
Haga continued to go to work on Corser. Not only passing the Australian, but also taking over 7th from Sanchini.
By the halfway point of the race, first position appeared to be settled. Second and third were up for grabs, with Toseland, Chili, Martin, and Laconi all in the mix. Although Chili and Martin made a couple of moves, the racing order remained unchanged. That is until Chili made his move for second, overtaking Toseland going into the corkscrew. Toseland's trouble continued, as Steve Martin got past him going into turn one, relegating the British to fourth.
They say the first person you must beat in racing is your teammate, and from the looks of it, Laconi paid very good attention the day they taught this at school. From lap 24 to the end, the two Corse riders took the gloves off and went head-to-head for fourth, exchanging the lead countless times. Eventually Toseland come away victorious, but the battle was one of the best on the track.
Farther back, Haga crawled himself to within a couple bike lengths of sixth place, Garry McCoy. McCoy was not able to hold on to sixth, handing it over to Haga.
<pre> 1. Chris Vermeulen 2. Pier-Francesco Chili 3. Steve Martin 4. James Toseland 5. Regis Laconi 6. Noriyuki Haga 7. Garry McCoy 8. Sanchini 9. Leon Haslam 10. Troy Corser