20 years ago today, April 23, Phillip Island hosted the second round of the 2000 World Superbike Championship and boy was it one to remember.
Troy Corser had taken pole on the Rotax engined Aprilia RSV Mille with a 1m33.321 while alongside him on the front row were Pierfrancesco Chili (Suzuki GSX-R750) and Colin Edwards on the new RC51 Honda.
Come Sunday though it was wet and tyre choice was critical. It looked as though the track would steadily dry thus it was really a roll of the dice and for a 25-year-old Anthony Gobert it was one gamble that paid off.
Gobert had qualified 11th and his Suzuki TL1000R engined Bimota SB8R was almost 20 km/h down on top speed compared to the front runners.
When the lights went out it was Colin Edwards that got the initial jump but the American was quickly overhauled by Gobert and Corser who immediately started pulling away only for TC to go down at Hayshed.
At the end of lap one Gobert led by 9-second and by the end of lap three, that lead was out to an incredible 31-seconds and by lap seven Gobert’s buffer was over 47-seconds.
Gobert lapped both Haga and Bostrom on lap eight but on lap ten a dry line had started to appear and the Australian could no longer continue to pull away.
Carl Fogarty put in the fastest lap of the race on lap 12 and had reeled Gobert in a little, the gap down to a still very significant 40-seconds but diminishing nonetheless.
Then on lap 13 the rain started falling once again and Gobert was able to maintain his advantage before backing off on the final laps to take the chequered flag 29-seconds clear of Fogarty.
2000 WorldSBK – Round Two – Phillip Island
Race One Results
Anthony Gobert – Bimota SB8R
Carl Fogarty – Ducati 996 +29.542s
Vittoriano Guareschi – Yamaha YZF-R7 +41.205s
Lucio Pedercini – Ducati 996 +52.174s
Colin Edwards – Honda +56.985s
Robert Ulm – Ducati 996 +57.168s
Gregorio Lavilla – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +57.627s
Giovanni Bussei – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +66.223s
Akira Yanagawa – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +77.071s
Noriyuki Haga – Yamaha YZF-R7 +92.748s
Alistair Maxwell – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +95.951
Mauro Sanchini – Ducati 996 +1 lap
Katsuaki Fujiwara – Suzuki GSX-R750 +1 lap
Lance Isaacs – Ducati 996 +1 lap
Ben Bostrom – Ducati 996 +1 lap
Colin Edwards and Pierfrancesco Chili both got away well from the line and were being chased by Simon Crafar, Haruchika Aoki, Noriyuki Haga and Juan Borja on what was a slightly damp but almost dry track. Race one winner Gobert was down in 15th place and battling with a 14th placed Carl Fogarty.
By lap four Colin Edwards led the race by ten-seconds over Chili. The American had gone with intermediates and that gave him the upper hand early on but the others on slicks were reeling him as a better dry line appeared as the laps clicked on.
On lap five, a 12th placed Carl Fogarty went up the rear of Robert Ulm’s mis-firing Ducati at around 200 km/h in a frighening clash through turn three. It subsequently proved to be a career ending crash for the four-time World Champion.
Noriyuki Haga took second place from Chili on lap eight and then took the lead from Edwards two laps later.
Troy Corser then came to the fore as the track dried further and by lap 12 was leading the race from Haga and Chili.
Lapped traffic caused Corser some problems on lap 14 when a slower rider cut back across him in alarming fashion but TC successfully threaded the needle.
The intermediate rubber on Edwards’ Honda was now very much a hindrance and was relegated to fifth by Gregorio Lavilla.
On lap 16 though, the rain started falling again, and with Fogarty still being attended to by medics by the side of the track, officials took the decision to red flag the race and the results were declared with Corser the winner from Haga while Chili rounded out the podium.
In the post race press conference at Phillip Island Corser seemingly took great delight in pointing out that, at that point in time, the top six riders in the championship points were all on different brands of motorcycle, but none of them was on a Ducati.
The 2000 season as a whole was a big one for both Troy Corser and Aprilia. It was Aprilia’s first season in World Superbike and TC took five victories on his way to third in the championship.
2000 was the year that Ducati’s stranglehold on the series was broken as rival manufacturers produced V-Twins to also exploit the 250cc advantage that the rules gave the twin-cylinder machines over their four-cylinder rivals.
Honda’s Colin Edwards won the 2000 World Superbike Championship with eight race victories on the new VTR1000 SP-1, 65-points clear of Noriyuki Haga on the Yamaha YZF-R7.
The race two accident at Phillip Island also effectively ended the career of Carl Fogarty.
Fogarty’s injuries and subsequent retirement led Ducati to pull Troy Bayliss back from America to replace Carl in the Factory Ducati WorldSBK Team.
Bayliss had missed the first few rounds but won two races (Hockenheim and Brand Hatch), and finished as the highest Ducati with sixth in the championship from his debut season.
The following year, 2001, Bayliss wrestled the World Superbike crown back for Ducati only to lose it again by the narrowest of margins to Honda’s Colin Edwards in 2002, when the pair completely dominated what was a brilliant season of World Superbike racing.
2000 WorldSBK – Round Two – Phillip Island
Race Two Results
Troy Corser – Aprilia RSV1000
Noriyuki Haga – Yamaha YZF-R7 +1.994s
Pierfranceso Chili – Suzuki GSX-R750 +4.330s
Gregorio Lavilla – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +23.592s
Colin Edwards – Honda VTR1000 +23.604s
Akira Yanagawa – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +25.243s
Katsuaki Fujiwara – Suzuki GSX-R750 +25.322s
Simon Crafar – Honda VTR1000 +40.832s
Anthony Gobert – Bimota SB8R +41.349s
Haruchuki Aoki – Ducati 996 +43.223s
Robert Ulm – Ducati 996 +59.059s
Mauro Sanchini – Ducati 996 +60.692s
Lucio Pedercini – Ducati 996 +84.219s
Ben Bostrom – Ducati 996 +85.570s
Igor Antonelli – Kawasaki ZX-7RR +91.897s
“I’m so pleased for Bimota. They had faith in me and I think I’m beginning to repay them. I know that I have the ability to win races and I’m being patient as the Bimota progresses. The guys have done tremendously well in such a short time. I decided to go with full wets for the first race. I had to fight the technicians about it, because they wanted something different. But, I’ve raced at Phillip Island heaps and I just felt that full wets would be the go – and luckily I was right. I couldn’t believe the lead I had after just a few laps and I thought that I couldn’t throw it away so I rode really steadily in the latter stages. It is a great achievement for Bimota and it’s great to beat Ducati so soon in the season. In the second race, I chose full slicks – front and rear – and it nearly worked. But after I saw Fogarty crashing I decided to take it steady, keep upright and get as many points as possible. The result in the first race was so good that I wanted to stay happy. I think we’ve surprised a few people here today.”
And from Troy – “I’m so happy to win today. I’ve got to thank Aprilia for all the work they’ve put in and also Dunlop and Ohlins. The bike worked perfectly in race two and I knew that I had a chance of winning when I saw Edwards and Haga in trouble. The win is like a dream come true. We didn’t expect this so early in the year, but I’m so happy that it’s happened – especially here in Australia in front of my home fans. I made a mistake in the first race by charging too hard too soon on tyres I had chosen. It was all my fault. For the second race I asked Dunlop for their opinion and I went with what they chose – thanks guys. The Aprilia guys are all pretty wrapped and I’m sure that this result is just the start. It’s also good for the championship.”
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