Valencia Race One

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
Aprilia made the best possible to start to the brand new Superbike season with a win in the first race at Valencia. After a slow start Troy Corser quickly carved his way into second place and soon dispensed with team-mate and holeshot man Regis Laconi, squeezing by him on lap three at Michael Doohan corner. Regis clung on for several laps but soon fell victim to a charging Troy Bayliss on lap 15 when Bayliss out-braked Laconi going into the first corner at the start of lap 16. Ben Bostrom followed the Australian into third place two laps later.
Early front runner Tady Okada was forced out on the fourth lap with an electrical problem, much to his disappointment. Castrol Honda team-mate Colin Edwards had also been right up in the front three early in the race but slipped down the order to finish sixth. "We chose wrong," admitted Edwards after the race. "The machine was just too soft and it was at its worst for the second half of the race. As we reached the halfway stage I knew it was going to be a tough ride to the chequered flag." Edwards even admitted to finding the going tough; "It was a bit scary, I was braking hard, the rear started to come around and I had to use the rear brake. We know what the problems are and we’ll be improving everything for the second race."

Troy Corser quickly took command of the race as the laps piled on, although a last lap incident might have cost him the race. As he passed back-marker Wolfsteiner the Austrian seemed to try to out-brake him again. Needless to say Troy was less than amused and suggested the officials "should give the guy a good talking to!". After the race Corser sat calmly in the press conference, he hardly seemed to have worked up a sweat. "It was a little hard to get the bike off the line," said Corser, explaining away his slow start. "We had a high first gear but it really helped me in the race. I got a little excited on the first lap and nearly took myself off, but once I settled down and got in front I pulled away. The bike was perfect and I felt very comfortable." When asked if he could repeat the performance in the second race, Corser replied simply; "I’m here to do the double."

But Corser won’t get it all his own way in race two, both Troy Bayliss and Ben Bostrom were pushing hard all through the race and Bayliss made up ground fast in the last half of the race. "My bike just got better and better, the tyres were working really well as the race went on. I’m feeling really good and confident for the second race." Team-mate Laconi finished fourth.

Bostrom looked a little wild at half distance and had a big moment when the back end came around and kicked him out of the saddle. "I took it a little easier after that as I wanted to finish the race!" said Bostrom.

British hopeful Neil Hodgson crashed out early in the race when he lost the front end on lap four, his GSE team-mate also crashed out of the race. Both riders were unhurt.

Aprilia have opened the season on a win, and the entire team will be pushing for the double. But the massed ranks of Ducatis, headed by Bayliss and Bostrom and the Castrol Honda boys won’t let them have it easy.

First race result: (Laps 23 - 92,115 km - Avg. 148.224 km/h)

1 Troy Corser, Aus. (Aprilia) 37:17.253
2 Troy Bayliss, Aus. (Ducati) 37:20.862
3 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 37:20.948
4 Regis Laconi, Fra (Aprilia) 37:23.933
5 Gregorio Lavilla, Spn (Kawasaki) 37:28.823
6 Colin Edwards, USA (Honda) 37:39.961
7 Pier-Francesco Chili, Ita (Suzuki) 37:42.572
8 Akira Yanagawa, Jpn (Kawasaki) 37:42.807
9 Hitoyasu Izutsu, Jpn (Kawasaki) 37:46.992
10 Robert Ulm, Austria (Ducati) 38:05.425
11 Stephane Chambon, Fra (Suzuki) 38:10.293
12 Steve Martin, Aus (Ducati) 38:13.920
13 Lucio Pedercini, Ita (Ducati) 38:18.022
14 Marco Borciani, Ita (Ducati) 38:18.024
15 Juan Borja, Spa (Yamaha) 38:19.050

Fastest lap: Troy Corser, 1:36.128 - 149.388 km/h

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