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‘Troy story two’ in World Superbike at Valencia

Raceline Photography

By Rob Every
April 26 2006

Well it’s been the story of most of the races so far in 2006, and yet again on the tight Valencia circuit it was Troys Bayliss and Corser who really did show all the other riders the way home.

This time though Bayliss really took advantage of the nimbleness of the Ducati, and its more effective electronics - that kept the former champion’s rear tyre in good nick until the very end of the race, where on both occasions he romped past Corser and on to victory to score an emphatic double.

Race one then, and Corser (Suzuki) got the holeshot and the fast starting Nori Haga (Yamaha) was also in contention in the early stages. Unlucky, and no doubt cursing his down on power FP1 Foggy Petronas, was Steve Martin, who yet again put the colourful triple in the top six in qualifying, only to be totally outpowered on the run to the first bend!

Corser and Bayliss managed to get away a bit from the pack early on, and it was quickly apparent that Corser could run real well - but Bayliss wasn’t letting him get away too far. A bit of a surprise in the top few at Valencia was Norifumi Abe, who you may remember had a strong run here in 2005 on the Yamaha France R1. The former GP racer was in the top half dozen and later on, along with Haga, broke away - the pair of them dragging Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) with them. The young Italian was having by far his best showing of the current season, and finally showing the talent that got him the ride in the first place.

Lanzi managed to scramble past the pair in the later stages to nick the final podium slot, whilst up front the battle raged between the two Aussies! Corser ground out a small lead and was able to lap in the area that he thought was going to be quick enough. Bayliss though, after the débâcle in Phillip Island, was running the harder rear tyre again here, and knew that if he could just keep a decent gap to Corser, he would come good late on. He did better, and nipped past on the second turn as Corser struggled a little with gear selection and a dodgy clutch! The Ducati ace pounding on to victory.

Good rides in this race from Fonsi Nieto (Kawasaki), who sadly pulled out of the top six with a machine problem. Also for Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki), so much further behind than his many British fans would like to see him, the Japanese finished sixth behind countrymen Abe and Haga. Poor showings though from the Honda men. James Toseland was hugely entertaining to watch as he powerslid the Ten Kate CBR round the track, but without traction control the Brit could only do so much, and ended up a disappointing ninth. Same problem for Alex Barros, later putting pressure on his Klaffi team to get a traction control system installed sooner rather than later!

Race two, and Corser again got a superb start and pulled away immediately from the field as Bayliss fought past a few others to get into second place! On this tough track to overtake on, the format was pretty much the same, but this time Corser tried even harder to get away and he did indeed pull a decent gap on Bayliss. However, the hard rear tyre on the Ducati yet again came into its own in the latter stages, and the former British champion swept by on the start and finish straight to take the lead.

It was clear Corser was having traction problems, as the Suzuki has far more power than the 999, yet out of the very tight final turn, the Italian bike could just drive up to the back of the Suzuki lap after lap. Corser looked distinctly annoyed with all the effort not resulting in a win - on a track he is notoriously dominant at - yet he was powerless to complete with the superior electronics and drive of the Ducati.

Lanzi yet again battled with Haga and Abe for the latter podium slot, the youngster getting the better of the Japanese pair - but good to see Abe up there, he really ought to be getting results like this every time with his talent! Kagayama binned it in the race this time, and fortunately Nieto’s Kawasaki held together to gibe the Spainard a fifth pace on his home ground, a superb result for the much improved former 250cc championship contender. In fact it was a five-six-seven for the PSG team, as Chris Walker followed Nieto over the line, followed by the former runner up in the series, Régis Laconi. Toseland and Barros struggled yet again, the traction control factor clearly a huge issue with the Honda teams, and one wonders if they can sort it quickly.

Another issue maybe resolved over the weekend was the Ducati idea of their bikes having a 1200cc engine limit soon. Corse say that the 999 is at the end of its life, and can not go any further as a package unless the capacity is increased. Maybe the double win for Bayliss will make the SBK organisers think twice about this, and certainly the other teams were most unhappy that the idea was even given any consideration. This one will run and run...

Standings after six races: Bayliss 125; Corser 103; Toseland 86; Haga 64; Barros 62; Pitt 58; Lanzi 47; Abe 40; Fabrizio 34; Xaus 33; Rolfo 32; Nieto 29.

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