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xaus reaches the top

Sunday 22nd june 2003

Words: Simon Bradley
Pictures copyright SBK International

A weekend of upsets saw championship leader Neil Hodgson yield the top podium spot to his team-mate Reuben Xaus, who achieved his first ever double win at Misano. Race one actually saw the Englishman watching celebrations from the pitlane as he failed to finish, while in the second race he was at least in a position to congratulate the Spaniard from the next podium place.

Hodgson set his customary blistering superpole time and set off as firm favourite, but just two laps into race one he made an increasingly rare mistake and lost the front of his Fila Ducati, sitting the rest of the race out in the gravel trap, fortunately unhurt. Xaus, not being a man to look a gift horse in the mouth, made the most of this unexpected development and charged off to glory, hotly pursued by James Toseland and Frankie Chili, with Regis Laconi tagged on the rear. Chili and Toseland raced hard for the remaining 23 laps with the Italian throwing away his second place on the very last lap, allowing Laconi to take a well deserved third - especially respectable bearing in mind that he is still a privateer entry without factory support. Gregorio Lavilla wrestled the big GSX-R Suzuki to a hard earned fourth place with Chris Walker chasing hard in fifth.

Race two saw a similar start from Hodgson, who this time kept his Ducati shiny side up for the whole race but was still unable to get past Xaus, who held him off to win by just a quarter of a second, with Frankie Chili a close third. Toseland, showing that not everything goes his way, failed to finish the race as a fuel line split on his Ducati, sidelining him on lap 14, while high track temperatures took it out of the rest of the field as well as tyres cooked and engines (and riders) overheated in the 31° heat and high humidity. Lavilla found that the inter-race changes he had made to the Suzuki didn't help its manners at all as he bullied it around to fourth place, just behind Laconi while Iannuzzo continued to impress with a well deserved seventh on the race kitted semi-works bike. Walker was back in ninth, suffering from fatigue partly induced by the heat and partly from his old injuries.

Worthy of an honourable mention is Troy Corser, who achieved a respectable seventh and tenth place on the fire breathing Petronas FP1.

All in all, not exactly the most exciting round of the year but memorable for seeing Xaus prove that, contrary to popular belief, he can both keep his bike on the track and ride it quite fast.

Results

Race one:

1. Ruben Xaus, Ducati
2. James Toseland, Ducati
3. Regis Laconi, Ducati
4. Gregorio Lavilla, Suzuki
5. Chris Walker, Ducati
6. Steve Martin, Ducati
7. Troy Corser, Petronas
8. Lucio Pedercini, Ducati
9. Mauro Sanchini, Kawasaki
10. Ivan Clementi, Kawasaki

Race two:

1. Ruben Xaus, Ducati
2. Neil Hodgson, Ducati
3. Pierfrancesco Chili, Ducati
4. Regis Laconi, Ducati
5. Gregorio Lavilla, Suzuki
6. Lucio Pedercini, Ducati
7. Vittorio Iannuzzo, Suzuki
8. Chris Walker, Ducati
9.
Steve Martin, Ducati
10. Troy Corser, Petronas

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