Britain's James Toseland celebrated his first season with Honda with second place the World Superbike Championship in the final round here yesterday.
After finishing first and second in the two races on the 2.74-mile circuit on his Winston Ten Kate Honda, Toseland said: "I want to go one better next year and win the title."
The 25-year-old Yorkshireman won the WSC for Ducati in 2004, but was dropped by the Italian factory after a troubled season in 2005. But this year he has built a reputation as one of the world's greatest Superbike contestants by helping the Dutch Ten Kate team to develop the 1,000cc Fireblade into a championship contender.
This was also a happy day for Troy Bayliss, the 37-year-old Australian who last week clinched the WSC title at Imola. Appropriately, he won the second race, the 24th and last of the year, on his Xerox Ducati with a blazing ride that left Troy Corser (Alstare Corona Suzuki) and Toseland unable to respond.
"That was probably my best race of the year," Bayliss said. "It was my first time at this circuit and, and step by step we made improvements to the bike throughout the weekend.
"We made another change just before the second race, and it gave me a slightly better feel midway through the corners. In the end I just pulled the pin and went for the win."
Toseland started the day only two points ahead of the Yamaha rider Noriyuki Haga in the battle for the runner-up position in the points table. But Toseland never really gave the Japanese rider the chance to unnerve him.
Haga briefly grabbed the lead in the first race, but Toseland re-passed his rival, and the British rider scored his third race win of the season from Haga, Corser and Bayliss.
Toseland looked like he was also going to win the second race until Corser and Bayliss found inspiration in the closing laps. The Briton was happy to ease back from this barging match, knowing that Haga was some way behind him in fourth place, and, therefore, that the world No 2 tag was his.