Kyalami Race One: All Edwards
April 1 2001
By Glenn LeSanto
The Texas Tornado blows 'em away in Kyalami Race One
Colin Edwards won the first race in Kyalami in convincing style on his Castrol Honda. After running into turn one in third place the Texan soon carved his way to the front to take his first win of the year.
Bayliss got the holeshot in race one and was followed into turn one by Corser, who had commented the night before how important a good start would be in the race. Pole sitter Ben Bostrom didn't get such a good start and followed third place man Edwards into the first turn. Hodgson looked determined in fifth but it soon became clear that he couldn't stay with the pace of the leading four bikes. As the front four began to break away in the early laps Hodgson, Yanagawa and Chili settled into their own battle for fifth place. Hodgson was clearly trying hard but his bike didn't look settled and the back end was constantly sliding under power. This must have been costing him time, as soon Yanagawa and Chili were able to get past the British Superbike champion.
Meanwhile at the front of the race the four leading guys were sorting themselves out with Edwards in the lead. Bayliss hung on but soon slipped back to over a second off Edwards. Corser was even further back, he'd completely lost Bayliss' tow and was himself under pressure from Ben Bostrom.
As the race wore on Edwards could be seen controlling the race from the front, each time Bayliss tried to close him down he simply stepped up the pace to maintain a gap of between one and one-and-a-half seconds. At just over half distance it looked like little was going to stop the Texas Tornado.
Further down the field Yanagawa was still holding on to his fifth place. Chili, back in sixth had lost sight of the green Kawasaki and was running a lonely race ahead of Lavilla and Laconi, who were running perhaps the closest race in the top ten. The race had developed into a procession, with at least a second, usually more, between most of the front ten. Corser and Bostrom looked close enough to provide the fans with a fight to watch, they were separated by about half a second. Bostrom was laying rubber all through the faster turns in an attempt to force his way onto the podium.
Things hadn't turned out right for the GSE Ducati team, Hodgson had retired by lap 12 and Toseland had been pulled in for a stop and go penalty after jumping the start.
Colin Edward's pre race prediction that he could "run all day" in the 1.43s was proving right, and keeping up that pace was handing him the race. Behind him Bayliss was dropping into the 1.44s, allowing Edwards to slip away further into the lead, by lap 20 of 25 Edwards had stretched his advantage to over 2 seconds. Behind them Corser had responded to pressure by Bostrom and eased out the gap to more than a second. It looked like Bostrom would have to settle for fourth and miss his second visit to the podium this year.
Further down the field it was the turn of Lavilla and Laconi to provide some action for the cameras. Laconi had caught Lavilla in the late stages of the race and the pair began trading paint as they fought for seventh place. With three laps to go Laconi managed to get his Axo Aprilia onto the inside and looked set to pass Lavilla on the Kawasaki but the Spaniard held him off and Laconi was forced to back off. But he wasn't giving up and on the last lap he was right there on Lavilla's back wheel again as he set himself up for a last ditch attempt at gaining one extra place and some valuable championship points.
Out in front it was no change with Edwards cruising home to his first win of the 2001 World Superbike Championship. Bayliss came in second followed by Corser and Bostrom. Yanagawa was next home in fifth with Chili sixth. While Edwards and Bayliss shook hands and wheelied for the crowd, Laconi had one last attempt to grab that place from Lavilla on the last bend. But Lavilla seemed to have the better drive coming off the last turn and held onto to seventh. Xaus and then Chambon came in to complete the top ten.
Colin Edwards, Castrol Honda:"It looks like I'm going to be in the papers here on Monday for the right reason now," joked Edwards. "I didn't get the start I wanted, it wasn't too bad I guess, as I was in third coming out of the first turn. I got by Troy Corser but it took me a little longer to line up Bayliss. It was a hard race, I had quite a job to get past Bayliss and even when I did he hung on to me really hard. But I did the job and I'm confident I can do the same in race two."
Troy Bayliss, Ducati Infostrada:
"I tried as hard as I could, the bike was running well but with 15 laps still to go the rear tire just span every time I opened the throttle, so there was no way I could catch Edwards."
Troy Corser, Axo Aprilia:
"I'm happy to be on the podium, I haven't done as much testing here as some of the guys so third is not a bad result. I tried to take it a little easy early in the race to save a bit of tire to reel them in at the end, but it was too late, they'd gone."
Tady Okada, Castrol Honda:
"The machine and tires were fine and I knew I could make my move when I wanted and get closer to the front of the race. Then the machine started cutting out. I tried to continue but it would have been impossible to finish the race. I'm disappointed for the team's sake, they work so hard for me but I know success will come our way."
Neil Hodgson retired after his oil cooler split, but he wasn't around to comment on his bad luck!
First race result:1 Colin Edwards, USA (Honda) 43m 17.222s,2 Troy Bayliss, Australia (Ducati) 43m 19.070s,3 Troy Corser, Australia (Aprilia) 43m 21.378s,4 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 43m 26.990s,5 Akira Yanagawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 43m 30.728s,6 Pier-Francesco Chili, Italy (Suzuki) 43m 49.92s,7 Gregorio Lavilla, Spain (Kawasaki) 43m 52.474s,8 Regis Laconi, France (Aprilia) 43m 52.735s,9 Ruben Xaus, Spain (Ducati) 43m 29.178s,10 Stephane Chambon, France (Suzuki) 44m 06.943s.
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