Motorcycling: First Toseland win but Corser still on course

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The Independent Online

The reigning World Superbikes champion James Toseland won his first race of the season at the European round of the series here yesterday, but the Australian Troy Corser tightened his grip on the title with two safe second places on the 2.2-mile Northamptonshire circuit.

The reigning World Superbikes champion James Toseland won his first race of the season at the European round of the series here yesterday, but the Australian Troy Corser tightened his grip on the title with two safe second places on the 2.2-mile Northamptonshire circuit.

Toseland, who had made a disastrous start to the season, restored his prestige with two podium positions on his Ducati after claiming third place in the first of the two 28-lap contests. "That was so special," he said. "Between the two races we made a slight change to the bike which made a difference between being third and first. It gave me half a second a lap."

But Corser, 33, was content with his runner-up role and now has a 78-point lead over his Suzuki team-mate Yukio Kagayama after only five rounds in the 12-round championship. Toseland is in fifth position, 124 points behind Corser.

Corser has had to wait almost a decade to revive his championship hopes after first winning the superbike title in 1996 on a Ducati. Now he has joined Suzuki at a time when their GSXR 1000 is the dominant machine. And in Belgium's Alstare Corona squad he is riding for what is virtually the factory's works team.

"Suzuki have pulled in all the information that they've got from racing in the American and British superbike championships to decide on the set-up for my bike," he said. "It makes it easy to ride, with a lot of useable power."

Yamaha's Japanese star Noriyuki Haga, who had been blazingly fast in qualifying, burst into the lead at the start of the opening race. But Corser, who prefers to run with a clear track ahead of him, forced to the front by the end of lap one.

The race became a Suzuki v Ducati power struggle, with Regis Laconi and Toseland on the Italian V-twins pressuring Corser's four-cylinder Japanese bike. Laconi broke ahead at half distance and held off Corser to win by just 0.096 seconds.

Corser broke into another early lead in race two, but this time Toseland was unstoppable despite starting from the second row of the grid. He passed Corser on lap 17 and held on to win by nearly half a second, after Laconi had crashed on the first lap.

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