Yamaha Motor Italia’s Nori Haga scored his second double-header sweep of the season with a second leg win in Vallelunga, Italy in a race that began and ended dramatically.
Haga was fending off Ducati Xerox’s Troy Bayliss when the world champion-elect crashed four turns from the finish. On the track, Bayliss was the world champion; teammate Michel Fabrizio had earlier in the lap passed Yamaha Motor Italia’s Troy Corser for second, guaranteeing Bayliss his title. But the fall took away the title, for one race at least, and Bayliss dropped to 16th when his machine initially refused to start. He scored no second race points.
With two rounds remaining, and 100 points for the taking, Bayliss continues to lead with 369 points to 290 for Corser, who finished third behind Fabrizio, the Italian taking a popular second place finish.
“We are really big fighting,” Haga said. “I’m sorry for the crash of Troy (Bayliss) because I enjoy a great battle with him.”
The finish was as dramatic as the start. The race began with Max Biaggi making contact with Corser, and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) colliding with Biaggi at high speed. Both riders were spat down the track at high velocity, and Sofuoglu flew for a long distance. Biaggi got up and walked away, albeit gingerly, as the race continued.
The three at the front were Bayliss, Haga, and Corser, with nothing to separate them.
Corser set a new lap record on the fourth while still trailing Bayliss and Haga.
Haga first took the lead on the sixth lap and edged away as the race came to the ninth lap, but Bayliss came back at him and Corser came along.
Bayliss took the lead on the 12th lap with a daring pass in the final corner as the lead trio was covered by .348 secs.
Bayliss stayed in the lead until running wide on the 16th lap when Haga went back in front as Corser stuck close in third.
Out of the blue Bayliss repeated his last corner passing trick on Haga on lap 19 and had the lead again, only for Haga to regain it a lap later.
Haga was in the lead when Bayliss appeared to lose the front end in a hairpin left, handing Haga the victory.
Fabrizio had closed up on Corser and used a backmarker to take third, and put Bayliss in position to win the title, before the Australian fell several corners later, handing Fabrizio second and Corser third.
“The race for me is very fantastic,” Fabrizio said.
There was a nine second gap to Team Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner who came fourth well in front of four riders more or less in the same fight. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa was fifth aheadfof Team Suzuki Alstare’s Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama, with Yamaha’s Shinichi Nakatomi eighth.
Regis Laconi and Roby Rolfo filled out the top ten.
1. Nori Haga (Yamaha)
2. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
3. Troy Corser (Yamaha)
4. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
5. Carlos Checa (Honda)
6. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
7. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)
8. Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha)
9. Regis Laconi (Kawasaki)
10. Roby Rolfo (Honda)
22. Matt Lynn (Honda)