Motorcycling: Lavilla dominates field to stay top

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The Independent Online

The Spaniard Gregorio Lavilla continued to break the spirit of Britain's best riders when took his Airwaves Ducati to two more wins here yesterday in the British Superbike Championship.

Lavilla, 31, started in fourth place in each of the two 17-lap races, but needed only nine laps in the first event and three tours in the second leg before he grabbed the lead.

The reigning champion has now won six of the eight races held so far, and leads the championship with 182 points to the 121 of his closest challenger - his team-mate, Leon Haslam.

Rizla Suzuki's Shane Byrne made a brave effort to stop Lavilla in the first race, despite needing intravenous drips before the start to counter the effects of flu. He broke into the lead but eventually succumbed to Lavilla's pressure.

"I'm feeling dreadful," Byrne admitted. "I got tired and kept making mistakes and couldn't hold on."

Haslam had shattered the lap record to claim pole position, but complained that the bike set-up that had worked so well in qualifying handicapped him in the first race, when he finished third. "I'm lapping a second a lap slower than yesterday," he said. "I can't get the bike to stop, and it's handling a lot differently."

Yorkshire's Karl Harris twice forced his HM Plant Honda past Lavilla in the closing stages of the second race, but eventually lost the duel by just 0.058sec.

"I was struggling on the last sector of the track all weekend," Lavilla said. "Karl braked later than me, but I was able to cut back inside him."

Byrne was credited with third place after race officials studied an incident at the chicane on the final lap, ruling that Red Bull Honda's Jonathan Rea had gained an advantage as he took to the grass, and relegating him to fourth.