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Lavilla tightens grip on BSB crown

Lavilla tightens grip on BSB crown

Lavilla tightens grip on BSB crown

Gregorio Lavilla, with a victory and a third place, in the rain soaked second round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park tightened his grip on the crown he won last year.

But in atrocious conditions, the real hero was Scott Smart who splashed his Vivaldi Suzuki to glory, ahead of Leon Haslam, in the afternoon's second race.

Lavilla, who had taken a winning double at the Leicestershire circuit last year, en route to the crown, had shattered his own lap record to put his Airwaves Ducati onto pole start, had even more speed to come as he set the fastest ever two wheeled lap of the 2.5 mile grand prix circuit in 1m 31.243secs, 98.63mph.

That came in a dramatic race. Going through Redgate for the first time, three riders tumbled spectacularly bringing out the Audi Safety Car for two laps – Haslam held the edge, but on the fourth lap the Spaniard was ahead, and was not to be headed again.

Behind, Ryuichi Kiyonari was closing in, but the HM Plant Honda riders efforts were thwarted as the weather intervened. He was running little more than a tenth of a second down when the first few spots of rain brought the action to a premature halt - within minutes became a torrential downpour of rain, sleet and hail added to the misery.

Even after the red-flags had stopped the race several riders, among them former champion Shane Byrne, Michael Laverty and Jonathan Rea crashed out in the fast deteriorating conditions.

Byrne tumbled out again as he made his way around the circuit to the starting for the second race which began in difficult rain lashed going with first, Kiyonari, soon to crash out, Michael Rutter, then Karl Harris and Leon Haslam making the early running before Scott Smart took over, sure-footed aboard the Vivaldi Suzuki, on the fifth lap.

"Apart from a few anxious moments, I was fairly comfortable – in these conditions you have to be super-smooth. Be a little but too enthusiastic on the throttle and the bike was twitching.

"Once I was out front, there were no problems with the spray but over the last few laps my fingers had gone numb and it was just a case of hanging on and holding Haslam off on the final lap," explained Smart as he enjoyed his fourth success and the first ever in the top flight for the Vivaldi team.

Haslam grabbed second place on the last lap from Lavilla, but the Spaniard is now 24 points clear of Kiyonari.

James Buckingham, the defending British Superbike Cup champion, took the first race honours, finishing ahead of Malcolm Ashley, Marty Nutt and Craig Sproston, but he had to settle for third best next time out as Chris Martin took the victory from Ashley.

Round Two – Bennetts British Superbike Championship – Donington Park

Race one – 13 laps 1 G Lavilla (Spn) Airwaves Ducati 20m 53.166s, 93.27mph
2 R Kiyonari (Jpn) HM Plant Honda +0.134s
3 L Haslam (Gbr) Airwaves Ducati +5.246s
4 M Laverty (Gbr) Stobart Honda +9.361s
5 S Byrne (Gbr) Rizla Suzuki +9.591s
6 K Harris (Gbr) HM Plant Honda +10.540s
Fastest lap: Lavilla 1m 31.243s, 98.63mph (Outright lap record)
Race two – 15 laps

1 S Smart (GBR) Vivaldi Suzuki 27m 37.071s, 81.40mph
2 L Haslam (GBR) Airwaves Ducati +0.576s
3 G Lavilla (SPN) Airwaves Ducati +2/297s
4 G Mason (GBR) Hydrex Honda +5.943s
5 J Rea (GBR) Red Bull Honda +30.768
6 T Hill (GBR) Virgin Mobile Yamaha +33.586s
Fastest lap: Haslam 1m 46.017s, 84.89mph

Championship positions:

1 Lavilla 82
2 Kiyonari 58
3 Haslam 56
4 Karris 41
5 Smart 33
6 Laverty 31

MotoGP, 2006

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