Motorcycling: Corser makes Suzuki history in hypnotic duel with Haga

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The Independent Online

The Australian's victory in the first of the two 25-lap races on the 2.6-mile track was his 31st in the series, and places him joint second in the list of all-time superbike winners with the current MotoGP rider, Colin Edwards. He already had a huge lead in the championship when he arrived at Brands, but entertained the crowd with two breathtaking duels with the fearless Noriyuki Haga's Yamaha. After beating Haga by less than a fifth of a second in the first race, he tried to pass the Japanese rider on the final lap of the second leg, but went wide and had to settle for second place.

"I ran off the side of the track, and there was nothing I could do," Corser said. "I just tried to stay on the bike and make it to the line." James Toseland, Britain's reigning world champion, suffered a disastrous day, retiring from the first race with an electrical fault on his Xerox Ducati, and trailing in seventh in his second outing.

"I'm very disappointed, because I got a good start," Toseland said of his first race. "I got into a groove, set my fastest lap on the sixth lap, and I was catching the leaders. Then the bike came to a stop on the front straight. It's when I'm hampered by factors outside my control I get frustrated, because it feels like you've not been given a chance to do your job."

Corser, 33, has now won eight races this season, and holds a 110-point lead over his fellow Australian Chris Vermeulen on a Honda. He can now virtually trundle to his second world title, after first winning the superbike crown in 1996.

Corser led the first of the two races off the grid. Haga pressured him, and got ahead for nine laps. But Corser always looked the steadier of the two, and when he slipped past his rival as they entered the final lap, he was never threatened again.

Ducati's Régis Laconi hounded the leaders all the way, but could never find the speed to improve on his third place. Vermeulen finished fourth, and Chris Walker made it five different makes in the first five places after a strong ride on his Kawasaki ZX10.

Haga's win in the second race gave Yamaha their first victory at Brands in World Superbike events. Vermeulen took third place behind Corser, and Walker became the most successful British rider of the day with fourth place.