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  Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Edwards reigns supreme
Colin Edwards can afford to finish second in the season's final race
Edwards (left) and Bayliss have had many great duels

Colin Edwards held his nerve to claim the World Superbike Championship at Imola after the culmination of a sensational season-long duel with Troy Bayliss.

The American won both races at the Italian track to take the overall title by 11 points.

But he was made to work very hard for the second, crucial win as defending champion Bayliss stole the lead on the last lap in a dogged display.


I did everything I could do and Colin has come out champion so congratulations to him
Troy Bayliss

The Australian made a mistake at the penultimate corner, however, and was forced to settle for second.

His Ducati team-mate Ruben Xaus took third place in both races, while Britain's Neil Hodgson took a fourth and a fifth.

"It's awesome," said Edwards, who was also champion in 2000, after taking a lap of honour past the record 97,000 crowd.

"We worked our asses off to get the bike competitive. We just needed that little bit and once we got it, it was all downhill."

Troy Bayliss
Bayliss fought hard until the end

Bayliss, who will lead Ducati's challenge into the MotoGP championship next year, was all smiles afterwards as he congratulated his friend and rival.

"I really wanted to win the championship today," said the 33-year-old.

"But I'm quite happy. I did everything I could do and Colin has come out champion so congratulations to him."

Edwards had moved to within touching distance of overall victory by dominating the first race of Sunday's final round.

He started it leading Bayliss by a single point in the standings, but emerged leading by six points after prevailing by 0.514 seconds.

That race was marred by a stoppage when the red flag was shown after 11 laps.

But the second was a classic with Edwards and Bayliss passing and re-passing each other in front of an excited crowd.

Bayliss, who had lead his rival by 50 points at one stage this season, needed Xaus to finish ahead of Edwards to have any chance of overall victory.

And Xaus almost obliged, staying in touch with the lead two until the final lap.

Ultimately though, Edwards had just too much speed and he kept his composure to win the day and the season.


Leading World Superbikes results from first race, round 13:

1 Colin Edwards (US) Honda 38 minutes 17.324 seconds
2 Troy Bayliss (Aus) Ducati 38.17.838
3 Ruben Xaus (Spa) Ducati 38.25.975
4 Neil Hodgson (Gbr) Ducati 38.37.719
5 Noriyuki Haga (Jap) Aprilia 38.38.137
6 James Toseland (Gbr) Ducati 38.54.814
7 Pierfrancesco Chili (Ita) Ducati 38.58.724
8 Gregorio Lavilla (Spa) Suzuki 39:00.125
9 Broc Parkes (Aus) Ducati 39:00.320
10 Ben Bostrom (US) Ducati 39:06.705

Leading World Superbikes results from second race, round 13:

1 Colin Edwards (USA) Honda 38mins 13.128secs
2 Troy Bayliss (Aus) Ducati at 0.980secs
3 Ruben Xaus (Spa) Ducati 6.183
4 Noriyuki Haga (Jpn) Aprilia 21.647
5 Neil Hodgson (Gbr) Ducati 27.403
6 James Toseland (Gbr) Ducati 34.187
7 Gregorio Lavilla (Spa) Suzuki 41.609
8 Broc Parkes (Aus) Ducati 41.819
9 Ben Bostrom (USA) Ducati 49.386
10 Hitoyasu Izutsu (Jpn) Kawasaki 51.223

Final championship standings:

1 Edwards, 552 points
2 Bayliss, 541
3 Hodgson, 326
4 Haga, 278
5 Bostrom, 261
6 Xaus, 249
7 Toseland, 195
8 Chili, 167
9 Chris Walker, 152
10 Lavilla, 130

Manufacturers standings:

1 Ducati, 575 points
2 Honda, 557
3 Aprilia, 278
4 Kawasaki, 178
5 Suzuki, 147

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Steve Parrish
"A fitting climax to an amazing season"
New world champion Colin Edwards
"I knew the game being played"
Ducati's Troy Bayliss
"We tried our best, but it wasn't enough"

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