James Toseland has started his 2004 World Superbike campaign with a victory in the first race at Valencia in Spain.
And there were more reasons for British fans to celebrate with Chris Walker giving the Foggy-Petronas FP-1 it’s first ever podium with a fine third place in the wet conditions.
Toseland’s team-mate Regis Laconi led from pole position at the start, only to fall foul of the weather, falling on the first lap.
Even before the start Noriyuki Haga, Regis Laconi and Ivan Clementi had all fallen during the warm-up lap, with Clementi failing to take his place on the grid
Laconi was soon on the ground again, falling at Turn Two in front of the field. By the end of the first lap, Toseland led from Spaniard Sergio Fuertes and Noryuki Haga. A challenge from Fuertes resulted in the Spanish rider leading for two laps before dropping back to an eventual eighth place.
Haga pulled into the pits on lap six, leaving Steve Martin, Pier-Francesco Chili, Gianluca Nannelli and Walker battling for the final two podium positions. Martin and Chili began to close on race leader Toseland, until Martin was forced to pull out after an engine failure on his Ducati 999.
Toseland was eventually able to keep Chili at bay, finishing 4.698 seconds ahead of the Italian. Chris Walker claimed third, benefiting from martin’s bad luck, and giving team boss Carl Fogarty something to cheer about. Britian’s Leon Haslam finished in fifth, Garry McCoy completed his debut in seventh, and the Honda FireBlade of Chris Vermuelen ended the race in 12th place after a pit stop.
Valencia Race 1:
1) Toseland. 2) Chili. 3) Walker. 4) Borciani. 5) Haslam. 6) Nannelli. 7) McCoy. 8) Fuertes. 9) Saiger. 10) Mrkyvka. 11) Nowland. 12) Vermuelen. 13) Praia. 14) Sanchini. 15) Bontempi
Retired: Martin, Clementi, Haga, Pedercini, Velini, Corser, Laconi.