Monday, May 28, 2007

WSBK Silverstone: Bayliss Stars in Downpour

Troy Bayliss was the only winner in the World Superbike round at Silverstone, with race 2 being cancelled due to torrential rain. The Australian had taken pole position, and was on top form in a 3-horse race with the two Yamaha Italia bikes of Haga and Corser.
There was action from turn one of the race, where Michel Fabrizio dumped his Honda. Very quickly it was obvious that the two Troys and Nori Haga were the only contenders for the victory. Championship leader James Toseland looked to be riding sensibly in 4th place until he highsided in the stadium section. As he picked the machine up, its right side was badly damaged and there seemed to be a lot of coolant pouring out, but Toseland remounted in 18th and charged back, finishing an impressive 8th to salvage a few points.
Karl Muggeridge was another victim of an early highside, and various other riders fell off to leave just 13 finishers, with Ruben Xaus among those who had fallen and restarted.
TV cameras showed Max Biaggi's eyes through his clear visor at the start of the race, with the Roman Emperor's expression seeming to verge on sheer terror, his eyes like saucers. He had a disappointing race to 6th place, with several scary slides showing how badly the Suzuki was handling on the soaking track, but stayed onboard to retain 3rd place in the championship and chip away a few points from Toseland's lead.
Regis Laconi had one of his occasional good days, with a decent ride to 5th, but was overshadowed by Roby Rolfo's 4th position. The young Italian has had two decent showings in a row now, and must be gaining confidence in the big Superbike after so long on the little 250GP machines.
Troy Corser had led for several laps, but finished 3rd, just behind Haga in 2nd and about three quarters of a minute in front of Rolfo.
Haga's 2nd place took a big bite out of Toseland's championship lead, and is now just 23 points behind the Englishman.
Troy Bayliss was the star of the day. After a great battle with Corser, who was as fast in the first half of the lap as Bayliss was in the second half, Troy number 21 managed to break away. There was a heart-stopping moment when his left foot slipped off the peg at high speed, dragging his trademark titanium toe slider along the ground and covering the following Yamahas in a huge shower of sparks. However, Bayliss kept cool as he lapped everybody up to Toseland and won the race in fine style.
Race 2 was cancelled as the conditions worsened. It seems to be a feature of WSBK riders that they are prepared to race in terrible conditions for race 1, but feel that doing the same again would be too great a risk. Since all of them have been flung over the handlebars a few times due to touching a white line or opening the throttle a tenth of a second too early, it's easy to see their point.
The conditions were freezing cold and soaking wet, thanks to the ridiculous weather the UK has had this year, with a scorching hot spring followed by a miserable start to the summer meaning that the stars of World Supers had much worse conditions than the BSB riders had at Silverstone a few weeks ago. Let's hope that things will improve when the WSBK championship returns to these shores.

No comments: