There was only cruel disappointment for North Yorkshire sidecar aces Steve Webster and Paul Woodhead at Monza in Italy, where a fuel pump failure caused their retirement on lap eight of the scheduled 14-lap race.

Webster had just taken the race lead from his great rival Klaus Klaffenbock when the problem arose.

That left Easingwold's Webster to merely sit and watch as 2001 world champion Klaffenbock swept to an easy win. It was the Austrian's third consecutive victory at the Italian venue.

Webster declared: "We're not very happy about it at all.

"We'd got a good start from pole, had a good dice with 'Klaffy' and got to the point where we were taking control of the race and then the power faded as the fuel pump went.

"But I've said it before - that's racing. We've just got to put it behind us and concentrate on the next race at Oschersleben in Germany in two weeks time."

It was a bitter blow for the obviously fastest Webster who qualified on pole for the 20th consecutive race. He was also fastest through the speed trap at 164.7 mph.

Before his race retirement he'd also posted the fastest race lap as well at one minute 57.251 seconds, a time that was actually quicker than his pole qualifying time.

"When I get the bike back home and stripped down we'll find exactly what the problem was with the fuel pump, and we've just to go make sure it doesn't happen again," he vowed.

With Klaffenbock romping to an unchallenged 12-second win, he now takes a 16-point lead in the series after two rounds.

The eventual second-place finisher was Jorg Steinhausen, who had battled long and hard with Steve Abbott before Abbott slowed dramatically with fuel starvation problems and limped home in 14th place.

The final rostrum place went to the Dutch father-and-son pairing of Martien and Tonnie Van Gils.

Meanwhile, Carl Fogarty has called for his fledgling World Superbike team to improve quickly or risk being left behind.

The new Foggy Petronas Racing squad suffered their worst weekend of the season at Monza, with Troy Corser's 13th place in race one the highlight.

The Australian former champion retired from the second race while team-mate James Haydon suffered a weekend he will hope to forget quickly.

The Englishman suffered concussion, ligament damage in his arm and leg as well as a suspected fractured toe in a heavy crash on Saturday and did not finish either race yesterday.

Said team owner Fogarty: "We have identified a number of issues that are exposed at circuits like Monza."

Updated: 11:07 Monday, May 19, 2003