Sunday, October 01, 2006

WSBK Imola: Barros and Bayliss share spoils

Race 1
Alex Barros took the victory with an awesome performance, storming through the field for a dominant win from James Toseland and Andrew Pitt.
Ruben Xaus had been in fine form before hopping off the low side and chucking his bike down the road.
Troy Bayliss finished 5th, losing 4th place to Nori Haga on the line, but it was enough to guarantee Bayliss the title of World Superbike Champion 2006.
There had been drama on lap 1 when a mistake from Neukirchner had taken himself out along with his Suzuki team-mate Kagayama.
Race 2
Trying a different rear tyre proved to be a good move by Troy Bayliss. Racing in new white leathers and crash helmet, Bayliss dominated the race, winning from Alex Barros's Honda.
Barros had made his trademark woeful start, but again came through the field, setting lap records along the way. He couldn't catch Bayliss, despite some spectacular riding on the last lap.
Yukio Kagayama took the final step on the podium, dragging himself up through the field with some great overtaking manoeuvres.
Ruben Xaus was again on outstanding form on his customer Ducati before dropping it again, this time in a spectacular crash, the bike tumbling through the gravel and reminding us why Xaus's "win it or bin it" mentality is so entertaining.
James Toseland eked out a 2 point lead over Haga in the race for 2nd place in the championship, by finishing ahead of the Japanese Yamaha hero again in race 2. There is nothing in it between these two, who will take the runner-up spot in the championship at the final meeting in Magny Cours is anyone's guess.
Bayliss has taken a richly deserved title, his performance in race 2 underlining this.
Barros has shown his great experience and talent today. Early in the year his bike seemed to have been rushed into the championship to give the Brazilian a ride. Now, his Honda is coming into its own. He could be one to watch next year, having won races in pretty much every World Championship race series you care to mention.
James Toseland has come on strong in the last few races after a bit of a struggle with his new Honda early in the season. Hopefully, Honda will concentrate on him as their number 1 rider next year. He could make a strong challenge for the title.
Nori Haga will give Toseland a hard time as the pair battle for the title runner-up spot in France. We saw at Lausitzring how breathtaking the racing between these two can be.
Troy Corser had a miserable weekend. His relationship with Suzuki is on the rocks, and won't have been healed by his poor performances and meek surrendering of his title.
Next up, Magny Cours. There are championship spots still to be claimed, and riders looking to impress team bosses, as the final race always sticks in the mind during the period of contract negociations over the winter. There should be some hard racing to end the season.

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