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Laguna Seca takes its usual toll

14th July 2003

Race 1

Frankie Chili took the win from Neil Hodgson after a huge pile up during the first lap. The incident happened in turn two and forced a race restart. Aaron Yates took the turn a little too hot on the inside line and ran onto the kerbing while under hard braking. Needless to say that the inevitable happened and Yates went down. In doing so he caught Frankie Chili and a number of other riders creating a domino effect. The worst effected rider was Erc Bostrom who was unable to re-start due to an injured right shoulder.

So the race re-started and more drama ensued with two leaders crashing out. Ruben Xaus lost it in the final turn on lap twelve while leading, and then Regis Laconi, who led the race early on after taking the holeshot, picked up the lead again – only to throw it away going through the Andretti hairpin on lap 17. Chili then took the advantage with the vacated front place and kept it together for his first win on a Ducati since 1998.

Neil Hodgson, after a relatively poor start gradually moved up through the field, partly by passing riders and partly by default as rider after rider crashed. He moved past pole-sitter and AMA Superbike championship leader Mat Mladin on lap 18 as the early race leader’s tyres started to go.

“I cannot believe I am here on the podium and winning the race – I am lucky after the big crash,” said a delighted Italian Frankie Chili. “But I just tried to stay close to the guys in front and today I got a little luck when Ruben and Regis went down. But we are all so much on the limit, this is what happens.”

World Superbike Championship Round Eight Laguna Seca

Race one result:

1. P Chili, ITA, Ducati 998RS, 40’ 35.653
2. N Hodgson, GBR, Ducati, +3.0683. J Toseland, GBR, Ducati, +12.322
4. M Mladin, AUS, Suzuki GSX-R1000, +6.072
5. C Walker, GBR, Ducati, +21.605
6. A Yates, USA, Suzuki GSX-R1000, +21.891
7. G Bussei, ITA, Ducati 998RS, +27.068
8. T Corser, AUS, FP1, +49.287
9. M Sanchini, ITA, Kawasaki, +49.679
10. M Borciani, ITA, Ducati, +50.261

Race 2

The way Ruben Xaus was riding at Laguna Seca should have seen him do the double but for the first race crash, even championship leader Neil Hodgson was unable to keep up with his team mate.

The second race was yet again crash-strewn, but the Spaniard simply blitzed all-comers after working his way into the early lead. Xaus finished over eleven seconds up on his Ducati Fila team mate Neil Hodgson and celebrated the win by performing a burn out in the middle of the Corkscrew on his cool off lap!

Steve Martin was first out when his DFX Ducati crossed the start line in a huge cloud of smoke. Frankie Chili was next out with a huge highside coming out of turn five on lap one, ending his day in the gravel, a sharp contrast to his first race win. James Toseland was on course for another podium position after passing Neil Hodgson and settling into second place. But when entering the infamous Corkscrew he crashed out forcing Hodgson to take evasive manoeuvres. The incidend saw Hodgson drop back to fifth but he eventually fought back to snatch third place from a hard charging Chris Walker.

Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates was up for a podium finish until he crashed out in turn 11 on the 24th lap. With Mladin out and Eric Bostrom injured, the first AMA wild-card finisher in race two was Italian Giovanni Bussei who rode his Austin Ducati to sixth place after running off twice at the Corkscrew on the 24th of 28 laps.

Race two result:

1. R Xaus, ESP, Ducati, 40’43.876
2. N Hodgson, GBR, Ducati, +11.565
3. C Walker, GBR, Ducati, +13.064
4. R Laconi, FRA , Ducati, +15.560
5. G Lavilla, ESP, Suzuki +16.354
6. G Bussei, ITA, Ducati, +19.685
7. J Borja, ITA, Ducati, +33.494
8. M Sanchini, ITA, Kawasaki, +35.564
9. M Borciani, (Ducati), +35.859
10. L Pedercini (Ducati) +39.330


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