Motorcycling: Lavilla piles on pressure as Rutter comes unstuck

Lavilla, 30, won the first race after Rutter and his team-mate Ryuichi Kiyo-nari dumped their HM Plant Honda Fireblades.

Lavilla then finished runner-up to Kiyonari in the second race, and emerged from the day as a serious contender for the title.

"It's going to be a close championship," he said. "We will try to push the Honda riders to the limit." Rutter finished fourth in the second race. He still leads the points table, but by only 26 points from Kiyonari with four rounds and eight races remaining.

The opening race was stopped after five laps after crashes which saw Scott Smart break a collarbone and the American rider Ben Bostrom break a toe.

On the restart Rutter led from Leon Haslam's Airwaves Ducati on the first lap, while Kiyonari failed to capitalise on his pole position and slipped back to fourth place. But before he could complete the lap, he fell at Woodcote.

"When I leant the bike into the corner, the bottom of the engine touched the track, and all I could do was lay the bike down," he said.

Lavilla charged through from eighth place to take the lead on lap eight, but even so Rutter's position seemed healthy. If he held on to second place he would increase his championship lead over Kiyonari.

Lavilla, Rutter and Haslam entered the final two laps close together. But Rutter dropped his bike in the very spot where Kiyonari had gone down, leaving Lavilla and Haslam to claim a Ducati one-two from John Reynolds (Rizla Suzuki), the reigning series champion.

"I lost the front end with no warning," Rutter said. "Lavilla was slowing and I could have caught him."

Haslam said: "I got a great start but hit a neutral going into the complex and nearly ran off the track. When Rutter went down I was just about to make a move on him." Kiyonari and Rutter picked up their bikes to finish eighth and 15th respectively.

Kiyonari made no mistake in the second race and led all the way. Lavilla probed and pushed, but his twin-cylinder Italian bike did not have the speed of the Japanese rider's four-cylinder machine.

Haslam, 22, was content to take third place and his first double podium of the season.

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