Fogarty's figures add up to close on Kocinski

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The Independent Online
Carl Fogarty, Britain's twice champion who needed to make the most of home advantage to take a significant lead this season, fell in yesterday's first World Superbike Championship race here, but in a stopped and then restarted second he defied the rain and, in a hugely exciting duel with the American John Kocinski, rewarded a huge crowd with a mathematical victory.

It was not a victory on the road - that went to another Briton, Michael Rutter - but on the aggregate times of the first 11 laps of the second race, run before rain intervened, and the 15 laps later run on a soaking track.

Fogarty's bravery on his Ducati eventually left him four points behind Kocinski on world championship points, but on the last lap, after a wheel to wheel tussle, he eased up a fraction. He knew that on aggregate times he had a five-second advantage on the day and could look ahead to less eventful ones in which to close on the championship.

Fogarty said: "I knew I had to keep within about five seconds of him and there was no way I was going to lose this." Nevertheless, he was infuriated by his first race crash in front of British motor sport's second largest crowd of the year, nearly 70,000 - only exceeded at Silverstone for the British Formula One Grand Prix.

Yesterday the racing fulfilled expectations and, sadly, drew attention to the dangers when a British rider, Graeme Ritchie, crashed into a tyre wall and was seriously injured.

Fogarty experienced the frustration of having taken a solid-looking lead after the first four laps of the first race, but when Ritchie crashed the field was brought to a stop. At least that gave Britain's domestic superbike leader, the 36-year-old Niall Mackenzie, a chance to rejoin the re-run race after a footrest had snapped off in the warm-up.

A comparatively slow start by Fogarty in the re-run allowed another Briton, Neil Hodgson, also on a Ducati, to take the lead. In his fierce attempt to close in on Hodgson and Kocinski, Fogarty risked a lot. A violent slide hinted at his determination.

The fall came as Fogarty attempted to get past the New Zealander Simon Crafar at Druids. He could only watch as Kocinski seemed ready to grab his chance but Pierfrancesco Chili, (Ducati) fastest in practice, took a decisive lead. Mackenzie (Yamaha), after a fast start, had dropped back but once Fogarty was out he seemed to rise to the crowd's switch of allegiance.

All that a home crowd wanted was to see him relegate Kocinski, who was involved in a tough battle with fellow American Scott Russell (Yamaha). That he did brilliantly, to take third place at Druids.

Druids remained an unwelcome place for Fogarty in the second race as he twice almost lost control before he touched Chili, who fell. Fogarty pressed on in the lead as the rain fell, but he later had to resume on wet tyres, which he did superbly.

Results, Digest, page 19

Michael Doohan strengthened his grip on the 500cc world title when he won yesterday's Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro. It was the Australian's ninth win in 10 races, and his seventh in a row. Japan's Tadayuki Okada, made it a 1-2 for Honda, who have won all 10 races this season.