Motorcycling: Fogarty's art illuminates Donington

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The Independent Online
THE OUTLOOK was Foggy and, true to the forecast, Carl Fogarty tightened his grip on the World Superbike Championship here yesterday. As a grey Midlands sky brightened, Britain's three-times champion risked a deteriorating rear tyre to secure victory in the first race and a cannily compiled second in the later round to increase his lead in the WSB standings from four to 23 points.

For those who were starting to get hot under their corporate collars from Ducatis' apparent dominance of the 1999 series, Colin Edwards steered his Honda to victory in the second race and a creditable third place in the first, while his Castrol team-mate, Aaron Slight, grabbed the place behind Fogarty in the opening rubber.

Slight, however, may not rush to congratulate the young Texan after a collision between the two riders on the second lap left the New Zealander in an undignified heap at the Melbourne hairpin. Slight boldly remounted and after Edwards had lapped him he briefly provided a barrier to Fogarty's challenge before sliding off again, six laps from home.

Fogarty's achievement was not the only one to warm the local support of 60,000. Chris Walker, who rides a Kawasaki in the domestic series, outpaced a number of WSB factory riders - not least Fogarty's Ducati team- mate, Troy Corser - to finish the first race one place off the rostrum.

Jamie Whitham also received rapturous acclaim by winning the Supersport undercard. Whitham, without a ride anywhere this season before yesterday, stood in as a replacement for the injured Massimo Meregalli on a Yamaha in the Belgarda colours. The amiable Yorkshireman stormed from 10th to first place over 23 frantic laps, setting a lap record in the process.

Delirium, however, was reserved for Fogarty, who admitted to taking a risk on a set of Michelins that had dogged his preparation. "I was frightened to open up the throttle once the tyres had gone off, but I pushed hard for them [the crowd] more than for myself - maybe I'll race for myself next time."

The implication was clear: win once for the fans then settle for the points in the next race. And indeed he was not headed from the third lap of the opener, scoring his 51st WSB victory at the site of his first in 1992.

With his tyres in a precarious state Fogarty kept his famously glaring eyes pinned on the pit boards in order to maintain a three-second deficit from the charging Slight. When his gear-changer packed up 10 laps from the chequered flag Fogarty was forced to treat his red Ducati very gingerly indeed. Not that he was letting on; a flamboyant wheelie over the finishing line served to hoist thousands of banners proclaiming "Foggy".

Edwards, too, had struggled for traction on what is considered a "Dunlop track". By the second race he had cracked the combination and replaced the clutch he had burnt out on the starting grid for the first race. "I was surprised to be up front," he confessed. Corser had set the pace but Edwards slipped past the Australian former world champion on lap 12.

Fogarty acknowledged that Edwards had deserved his victory: "He beat me so he must be riding well." So much for an easy stroll in the sunshine.

WORLD SUPERBIKES CHAMPIONSHIP Third round (Donington Park) First race (25 laps, 100.5 km): 1 C Fogarty (GB) Ducati 39 min19.856 sec; 2 A Slight (NZ) Honda 39:23.286; 3 C Edwards (US) Honda 39:36.339; 4 C Walker (GB) Kawasaki 39:40.798; 5 A Yanagawa (Japan) Kawasaki 39:41.280; 6 T Corser (Aus) Ducati 39:44.343; 7 J Reynolds (GB) Ducati 39:46.948; 8 S Hislop (GB) Kawasaki 39:48.834; 9 S Emmett (GB) Ducati 39:54.818; 10 N Haga (Japan) Yamaha 39:57.613; 11 D Romboni (It) Ducati 39:58.873; 12 N Mackenzie (GB) Yamaha 39:59.181. Fastest lap: Fogarty, 1:33.700 (av 154.527 kph)

Second race (25 laps, 100.5 km): 1 Edwards 39:25.558; 2 Fogarty 39:29.771; 3 Corser 39:36.114; 4 Yanagawa 39:39.815; 5 P Chili (It) Suzuki 39:48.051; 6 Haga 39:53.498; 7 Reynolds 39:59.091; 8 Romboni 39:59.226; 9 Hislop 40:00.070; 10 Mackenzie 40:14.676; 11 K Fujiwara (Japan) Suzuki 40:15.118; 12 R Ulm (Aut) Kawasaki 40:29.040. Fastest lap: Edwards 1:33.839 (av 154.298 kph).

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