Monday, April 16, 2007

BSB Thruxton: Lavilla Keeps 100 Percent Record

Spain's Gregorio Lavilla took another double at the wickedly fast Thruxton track, keeping up his 100% race win record. With 100 points from a possible 100, Greg has dominated the series so far with his beautifully smooth riding style.
Thruxton is a strange track. It is enormously fast, with the top riders touching 202mph (325km/h for the metric lovers among us), yet there is nothing that you could really call a straight. In other words, all of the straights are curved. It is flat, as in there are no gradients, but it is also bumpy, although not as much as it was in the past.
You would expect that Thruxton would be the worst possible track for a V-twin Ducati, which is always going to be slower down the straights than the Japanese fours. However, Greg Lavilla proved that wrong.
Lavilla didn't have things all his own way, having to battle with other riders for the lead, but in both races he eventually set off into the distance. In race two, he was caught napping, possibly having trouble keeping up a good rhythm on the fast, featureless track. Kiyonari showed him a front wheel on the way into the final chicane, but Greg managed to slam the door shut and seal back to back double victories.
Leon Camier, who is now a clear 2nd in the championship with 67 points, continues to impress. The Bike Animal Honda is clearly a very fast and well prepared bike. Leon had a terrible start in race two, but fought back with the aid of the safety car to take a respectable 5th place, showing the kind of determination that has won him championships in the past and will surely do so again in the future.
Johnny Rea is 3rd equal in the championship on 49 points. In race one, he destroyed the rear Michelin tyre, visibly lighting it up in the fast corners. Spectacular, but not great for the rubber, and he had to pull into the pits when the tyre finally gave up the ghost. However, in race two he saved the tyre and was unlucky to be shuffled back to 4th in the last-lap excitement. He made excellent starts, and revealed that he has been practising on an airfield and changed the clutch after his disastrous starts at Brands.
Ryuichi Kiyonari is equal 3rd in the championship with his team-mate. He has recovered well from the pitiful start he made to the year at Brands, but he will be annoyed to be 51 points behind Lavilla already. It will take a lot of hard work to retain his title.
Shane Byrne is just behind them on 45 points. He rode well on the Stobart Honda, and had some great battles. He already looks a lot happier than he did on the Rizla Suzuki last year.
Leon Haslam is in 6th place in the championship, on 43 points. He has had a disappointing start to the season, being outclassed by his team-mate so far. It certainly seems like the Ducati-Dunlop combination is a bit tricky, and although Leon has been racing for a very long time, he still has far less experience than his team-mate Lavilla in this kind of situation. He is still plugging away, though, and surely won't be away from the sharp end for long.
Fan's favourite Chris "The Stalker" Walker is down in 9th place. He has been right in the mix in every race, but has dropped back, seemingly due to tyre problems in the first three and due to an engine blow-up in the fourth. If the race was stopped at half distance, he would usually have a podium, but the team has to work on carrying this performance through to the chequered flag.
British Superbike has lived up to its reputation as being the best national championship. The racing has been excellent. There are a surprising number of youngsters battling for podiums and front-row grid spots. With Rea, Camier, Hill, Sykes and Crutchlow there are some very highly rated lads. They are the next Hodgsons and Toselands, but might one of them be a Sheene?

No comments: