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The sun has got his helmet on. . .

Words by Laura Bradley, pictures by Simon Bradley & Richard Handley

Karl Muggeridge is the most nirrepressibly cheerful guy you'll ever meet, as well as being a hugely talented rider... Eventually, we're sure, his results will reflect what he deserves.Brands Hatch is the favourite round for many people. The cheery atmosphere always prevails and the weather seems to always look on the bright side. This weekend was no different, with the predicted temperature for Sunday being twenty-seven degrees - that's into the eighties for those of us old enough to think in those terms - and all the British bike fans turning up to cheer on their favourite riders.

Friday practice and first qualifying showed no casulties and the consistently hot and dry conditions meant that riders were able to concentrate on their lines instead of what tyres they should be using. A pleasant change from the jetski championships that have masqueraded as races or practice sessions at the previous British rounds this year. James Toseland managed to get the fastest lap and hold it for a while but, once again, Bayliss decided to do one better and beat Toseland's time into the top spot for qualifying, and Troy Corser also beat Toseland's time into second.

Troy Corser may have taken a while to find his form, but oh boy he's found it now...Superpole was almost interesting as far as superpole goes, for there was a lot of good competition for the top spot and that resulted in possibly one of the best front rows we have seen this season. Nakatomi started off with a good lap but was beaten by Karl Muggeridge on the easily spotted fluorescent yellow Alto-Evolution Honda. Muggeridge managed to hold pole position through Nieto's efforts but Max Biaggi redeemed himself after qualifying thirteenth and managed to bite and hold onto pole through the attempts of Steve Martin and Max Neukirchner. Yukio Kagayama, however, went one up and took pole to hold it through the laps of Regis Laconi, Michel Fabrizio, Roby Rolfo and Ruben Xaus. His best friend, Nori Haga, is not the type to not do fast laps, and this pole lap was no exception, fooling everybody into thinking that nobody could possibly beat that speed. Oh, were we fooled, because James Toseland was determined to impress his home crowd even more than he already has and did a spectacularly fast lap into pole position...but, once again, Bayliss did one better and managed to take pole in an incredibly fast lap. Now I have heard people curse him for this, being Toseland fans...but, as much as I like and admire Mr.Toseland, I have to say that even after a slight wobble that could have cost him at least a second off his lap, Bayliss managed to out do them all, and I think for the quality of that ride, he deserved pole.

Troy Bayliss demonstrates that, no matter how well you do in Superpole, falling off wrecks your chances of a points finish. At least he ended up with the same number of fingers and, um, other bits as he had at the start this time... (Richard Handley pic)Race one started and Troy Bayliss took the lead ahead of Corser and Toseland. Kagayama and Haga both battled for fourth. Their battles are always interesting because of their off-track friendship, and this was to be no exception. Lap two got interesting for the British crowd as Toseland took Corser on the start finish straight, and Haga took Corser as well starting an extra battle between the two Yamahas. This left the standings as Bayliss in first followed by Toseland, Haga and then Corser. However, our Brit aims to please and on the first corner of lap four he overtook Bayliss into first. Bayliss and Toseland both battled until the third corner and then Toseland decided that he was just going to stay in first now, bored of playing. This was the beginning of major setback for Bayliss as Haga then took the chance to overtake, knocking him out of the way with his bike and therefore giving Corser the chance to sneak through as well. Unluckily for Bayliss, he thought that he had a jump start, and that must have been preying on his mind as he was riding without his usual style, agressive and unusually pushy. And on lap five he lost the front end of the bike on the turn-in to Druids, taking him out of the race.

Corona Suzuki team mates Kagayama and Biaggi fought for fifth. Biaggi managed to take Kagayama on the inside as Kagayama's bike seemed to be having a tantrum and was acting like a bucking bronco. Biaggi then went on to take Ruben Xaus into fourth place. Xaus missed a gear and Kagayama also overtook him to, once again, battle with Biaggi for fourth. Meanwhile, there was a two second gap between the race leader, Toseland, and Haga Michel Fabrizio isn't especially consistent, but he's fast as anything and a smashing bloke as second place. Things started getting interesting again at lap seventeen, where Haga had a massive slide and ended up in the gravel. He was able to get back on and rejoin, though, and started to fight to get to the top again but that left Troy Corser in second place and Max Biaggi in third. Kagayama, on lap twenty-three, high sided and ended up being taken to the medical centre. Karl Muggeridge had enjoyed a pretty good race, getting up to eleventh before his Honda stopped on the penultimate lap having run out of fuel - a poor reward for a massive effort.

So the end result James Toseland with a long gap back to Troy Corser, Max Biaggi and Ruben Xaus. Michel Fabrizio continued his impressive form in fifth, ahead of Rolfo, Haga, Laconi and Lanzi. Max Neukirchner finished off the top ten.

Toseland leads Haga through Paddock Hill. And the crowd went wild...again.Race two and Bayliss, once again, started off in the lead with Haga in second and Toseland slotting into third. The first lap saw lots of excitement when the battle for first started, Haga took Bayliss into first and Toseland soon followed and started to chase Nitro Nori to go for the double. It was looking good, too, as he took Haga into first soon after. On lap four there was another battle between Kagayama and Biaggi, which resulted in Biaggi overtaking Kagyama and Troy Corser, giving him high hopes to get another podium finish. However, Biaggi had jumped the start and on lap nine he was called in and had to do a penalty ride through the pit lane, demoting him to sixteenth and letting Corser take third. Bayliss was working his way backwards through the grid as Ruben Xaus and Michel Fabrizio both overtook him and after another attempt to get to first, Toseland once again banished Nori Haga into second position.

But it wasn't all over yet as Haga took Toseland again, seeing the beginning of lap twelve with Haga in the lead followed by Toseland and Corser. By lap fourteen Nori Haga isn't one to just lie in the gravel after a crash - check out the back of his leathers...Toseland decided to try for first again, but failed and the battle allowed Corser to catch up and join the scrap for the front. On lap fifteen, though, Toseland finally took first back and held it. By lap nineteen a gap had formed between Toseland and the Haga/Corser battle behind, leaving the standings at the beginning of lap twenty-three as Toseland, Haga and then Corser with Bayliss down in seventh. The battle between Haga and Corser had really hotted up but Haga managed to hold second from his team mate leaving the final positions at the end of the race as James Toseland first, winning his first ever double, Nori Haga second, Troy Corser third and Michel Fabrizio fourth. Yukio Kagayama, battered and bruised but still clearly capable finished a respectable fifth from Ruben Xaus, Bayliss and Biaggi, while Laconi just pipped Neukirchner who took his second tenth place of the day.

James Toseland now has an almost unassailable lead, sixty-six points clear of second place Nori Haga. He's broken his duck at Brands Hatch in impressive style and in all honesty it would take little short of a miracle to stop him from taking the number one plate away to MotoGP with him.

Race OneJames Toseland seems particularly keen do give everyone this view at the moment. Still, the ladies like it...

1 James Toseland (Honda)
2 Troy Corser (Yamaha)
3 Max Biaggi (Suzuki)
4 Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
5 Michel Fabrizio (Honda)
6 Roberto Rolfo (Honda)
7 Nori Haga (Yamaha)
8 Regis Laconi (Kawasaki)
9 Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
10 Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)

Race Two

1 James Toseland (Honda)
2 Noriuki Haga (Yamaha)
3 Troy Corser (Yamaha)
4 Michel Fabrizio (Honda)
5 Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)
6 Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
7 Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
8 Max Biaggi (Suzuki)
9 Regis Laconi (Kawasaki)
10 Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)

Championship Standing after ten rounds:

1 James Toseland 355
2 Nori Haga 289
3 Max Biaggi 286
4 Troy Bayliss 258
5 Troy Corser 227
6 Ruben Xaus 163
7 Lorenzo Lanzi 161
8 Roby Rolfo 146
9 Max Neukirchner 123
10 Yukio Kagayama 116




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