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A dramatic start to World Superbike 2006 in Qatar

Raceline Photography

By Rob Every
March 15 2006

It was a dramatic start to the 2006 Superbike World Championship, at Losail circuit in Qatar. Troy Bayliss, James Toseland and Troy Corser scored the points; Noriyuki Haga and Yukio Kagayama made the impact.

Race one: The biggest story in from the first race in World Superbike in 2006 was the clash of the two Japanese riders in the first race, that resulted in them both finishing out of the points!

The battle was between multiple WSB race winner Noriyuki Haga, on the Team Italia Yamaha R1, and former British Superbike race winner Yukio Kagayama, on the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R K6. Haga lost the front under braking, as he swept underneath Yukio to take the lead, and took the pair down.

Taking maximum advantage of the Japanese’ misfortune was 2004 World Champion James Toseland, who was probably laughing into his Suomy lid as he saw them scrabbling in the gravel trap. If the Sheffield man was laughing though it was short lived, because on his tail was Troy Bayliss, the MotoGP star returning to his former home at Ducati and setting the winter testing runs alight with his speed - after a brief worry about a heavily fractured wrist broken in his last GP year.

Bayliss was on pole after Superpole, and finished a very close second to Toseland after the Brit forced his way past reigning champion Troy Corser late on. Corser finished a close fourth behind first time WSB podium man Andrew Pitt, the ex-Kawasaki GP rider having a great ride onto the podium despite front tyre worries late in the race.

Other good rides in the first race were for Michel Fabrizio on the Honda, beating GP veteran Alex Barros into fifth place. Seventh was another GP refugee Roberto Rolfo, who managed to keep Barros in sight.

On to race two, and a superb start from the line for the Yamahas. Pitt and Haga led away, with Nori nudging ahead to lead the first lap. Corser and Bayliss were soon on the move though, as was Toseland on the Winston Ten Kate Honda.

Suzuki mounted Corser managed to get through quite quickly on the Yamahas, using the K6’s superb straightline speed on the 1K straight to blast into the lead and pull away. Bayliss was nowhere near as quick onto the straight, but good in the slipstream and got past both Yam’s a few laps later, bringing Toseland with him.

The gap to Corser was large but Bayliss showed why he is so popular with Ducati by getting his head down and getting behind Corser with a few laps left. He couldn’t match the Suzuki on the straight, but on the last lap forced inside Corser in a chicane. The reigning champ managed to nip back past as Bayliss ran wide on a kerb, but Bayliss still wasn’t finished and tried again, running wide again as he forced thorugh. But the damage was done, and the elation Corser showed was relief as well as joy, no doubt, as he has been criticised in the past for being poor in a fight - but not today.

The battle for third was just as thrilling. Toseland had fallen to fifth behind Haga and Pitt, but squeaked past Andrew on the penultimate lap. He caught Nori very quickly and rammed the Honda up the inside into the last bend. The Yamaha caught the slipstream and nicked the position on the line by the smallest of margins, so small it was probably down to the placement of the transponder!

Barros rode well again to storm through the field after a bad start for fifth, behind 2005 sensation Lorenzo Lanzi on the factory Ducati.

Standings after two races: Bayliss 40; Toseland and Corser 38; Pitt 27; Fabrizio and Barros 19; Haga 16; Rolfo 12; Muggeridge 11; Abe and Lanzi 10.

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