World Superbike Championships: Suzuki Dominates again
By Mike Hanlon
April 23, 2005
April 24, 2005 World Superbike Championship leader Troy Corser raced his Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSX-R1000 to a double race victory at the third round in Valencia today as his main rivals dropped away in the championship chase. Only Honda CBR1000RR-mounted Chris Vermeulen and Corser’s Suzuki team-mate Yukio Kagayama now look to stand any chance of remaining in touch with the runaway points leader. In the World SuperSport race, Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR team again streeted the field.
Troy Corser lead the field in every respect all weekend. Though clearly the fastest rider in the field, he also proved the smartest rider in the field on the first day of qualifying. It was no big surprise to see Troy top the standings on day one, but the gap between him and his nearest rival was a bit of a shock because it was over three quarters of a second! And, what’s more, Troy had done the time comfortably! Troy knew the track temperature would rise in the afternoon (timed) session, so he put his qualifier on early and posted a lap of 1:35.954. As the temperature rose, the grip level went down and nobody was able to get anywhere near him.
He subsequently posted the fastest time in every session and comfortably took superpole ahead of Chris Vermeulen’s Honda.
Odds for race 1 after Superpole: T Corser 1.44 Y Kagayama 6.50 R Laconi 7.00 C Vermeulen 9.00 M Neukirchner 13.00 A Pitt 17.00 J Toseland 26.00 K Muggeridge 34.00 P Chili 41.00 N Haga 41.00 N Abe 41.00 C Walker 41.00 S Martin 67.00 S Gimbert 67.00 G Mc Coy 81.00 D C Checa 81.00 M Borciani 101.00 L Lanzi 101.00 J L Cardoso 101.00 F Nieto 101.00 B Bostrom 101.00
Odds for Championship after superpole: T Corser 1.83 Y Kagayama 3.25 R Laconi 5.50 C Vermeulen 7.00 N Haga 21.00 J Toseland 21.00 M Neukirchner 21.00 N Abe 26.00 A Pitt 29.00 P Chili 34.00 K Muggeridge 51.00 S Gimbert 67.00 F Nieto 67.00 G Bussei 67.00 C Walker 101.00 M Sanchini 101.00
Corser led the first race from start to finish and took the chequered flag over nine seconds ahead of Chris Vermeulen (Honda), though the gap at the flag was more than nine seconds and Corser appeared to simply go through the motions in the lead while his main rivals languished in his wake.
The attrition of the field began before the first race when Laconi was ruled out of the action after a crash half-way through the morning warm-up, when contact was made with a slow-moving rider on the outside of the final curve. Laconi suffered concussion and was immediately examined by on-circuit doctors before being taken to Valencia hospital for an MRI scan, and for precautionary reasons a decision was taken for him not to race
Vermeulan was the most impressive of the rest, with Kagayama climbing from seventh to a rostrum third position as the field became depleted from crashing. Superstar rookie and front row qualifier Max Neukirchner survived a massive lap one highside relatively unscathed, despite flying for some distance and landing hard on the unyielding Valencia tarmac.
Winston Ten Kate Honda rider Karl Muggeridge’s first race was equally dramatic, if less painful, as he was run off track by Neukirchner’s crash, fell in the gravel, remounted, crashed once more on lap 19, before retiring from a non-points scoring position.
A seemingly sure third place, and a possible second, for Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France IPONE) in the opener ended in the gravel as the Japanese rider slid off his machine into the first right hand corner on the 19th lap. He would end race two in fifth place, despite losing adhesion on the hotter track, to move up one championship place: fifth overall and the leading R1 rider. Andrew Pitt also fell in race one, while holding fourth position on lap six.
So with Abe, Pitt, Neukirchner and Muggeridge watching, Kagayama’s final result was a lot better than his race pace deserved, and fourth place in the first contest went to Kawasaki-mounted Chris Walker, ahead of Yamaha Motor Italia rider Noriyuki Haga and Yamaha Motor France IPONE rider Sebastien Gimbert.
With track temperatures increasing from 22°C in race one to 40°C in race two, grip altered considerably from race to race, complicating matters for everybody and making Corser work a bit harder in race two.
Andrew Pitt’s Yamaha R1 got the holeshot and led the first lap. On lap two, the Suzuki rider made his move and from then on the result was never in doubt. The Australian held a podium position for much of race two, but slipped back due to a misfire and eventually finished eighth.
This time the margin of victory was less - just over five seconds - but the demoralising effect on his rivals was just the same. Vermeulen took runner-up spot after a terrific battle with Kawasaki’s Chris Walker who finished third.
Troy Corser, Alstare Suzuki Corona Team, Double race winner and Championship Points leader: ”It’s been a perfect weekend and I want to thank the whole Alstare team for making it all possible. Conditions were very variable today - due to the change in track temperature - but we had done all the groundwork in qualifying and were ready for anything. I used the same rear tyre for both races but it didn’t work as well in race two because the temperature was higher. The first race was pretty comfortable for me and I just controlled things right from the start and left the rest to sort themselves out. In race two, I was a bit surprised to see Andrew Pitt get off the line ahead of me and lead into turn one. I wanted to pass him as soon as possible because I wanted to run my own race, so I overtook him on lap two. I then pushed quite hard for about eight laps and made a bit of a break, but in doing that, I think I must have worn the rear tyre out a bit. So I eased the pace, conserved the tyres and kept and eye on my pit-board. The wind in race two was a bit of a problem because it was different in different parts of the circuit. But it was great to do another double and extend my lead in the championship to 31 points.”
Yukio Kagayama, Alstare Suzuki Corona Team, Race 1 - third, Race 2 - seventh: ”Today I am a lucky man or maybe double lucky. In the first race, I had moved up to fourth with Norick Abe in third but too far away. Then he crashed two laps from the end and suddenly I was third and on the podium! I was also lucky in the second race because I didn’t crash! I had very little feeling in my tyres - maybe because of the high track temperature - and I overshot one turn because I had no grip. I recovered OK, but the leading group was too far to catch. After that I had to go more slowly because I knew I would crash if I went faster. I am happy for Troy-san and our team and I am still second in the championship so I think I am lucky.”
Chris Vermeulen, Winston Ten Kate Honda, second place both races: "That was really hard work. The conditions were very slippery compared to last year’s race which was held earlier in the year. I think the higher temperatures here mean that the tyres are having to work much harder, so grip is a problem for everyone. Race two was as hard as race one but at least I was able to stay relatively close to Troy. But I’m happy with two podiums and to have collected a whole load of points.”
Noriyuki Haga, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1 - fifth, Race 2 - fourth place, now seventh in championship with 40 points: “OK, we got fifth in race one and fourth in race two but it’s not good enough for me, because as a racer you always want to win. I have to remember that the bike is still developing. We have only finished three meetings so we need to improve more, step-by-step. I think it will be better though. We are improving and compared to Friday we have made big progress. Now we have a test at Monza this week and this should give us a good chance to prepare for the team’s home race.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Motor Italia Team Coordinator: “Before we arrived here I said that we would be happy with podiums and we nearly got them. On Friday we were looking almost looking at a disaster, but immediately on Saturday we improved a lot. But both riders finished race two. Andrew’s machine had a small problem in that race. In the last two laps he slowed up, with a misfire. But considering our position on Friday, we cannot be too disappointed.”
Andrew Pitt, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1 - crashed, Race 2 – eighth place: “I tried to stay with them in race two but I just lost one tenth each lap. The more laps I had, the more I had to be careful. After a few laps the rear tyre started to lose performance but the electrical problem at the end probably cost me three places.”
Norick Abe, Yamaha Motor France, Race 1 - crashed, Race 2 – fifth: “It was unlucky to crash in race one as I had a good feeling on the bike. I knew 100 percent that I could get third but there was a rider immediately in front of me so I wanted second; it’s better than third. Maybe I pushed the front too hard, so I crashed. Race two was held in very different conditions, a warmer track for example, and the rear grip was less from the beginning. That was more of a disappointment than race one.”
Sebastien Gimbert, Yamaha Motor France, Race 1 - sixth, Race 2 – eleventh: “In the last couple of laps of race two the engine overheated and I lost a lot of power. That made it incredibly difficult for me. There was also a big change in the track conditions between race one and race two, and that made the bike slide a lot more in the second one. Race one was OK, a good finish in sixth.”
Martial Garcia, Yamaha Motor France, Team Manager: “Not so bad. Of course in the second race less people crashed so the places were worse but we are happy because we have made the chassis better, gained some confidence, even if we have lost a possible podium. Now we have to work on the engine some more. Sebastien’s engine overheated, so we need to inspect the radiator. Because it lost power as it heated up, he dropped down positions. But we have shown again we are at a high level and we are fifth in the world championship with Abe. This is not so bad for the start of the season.”
Pierfrancesco Chili Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR: “My left arm and shoulder are finished after two races. I have no grip in my hand and it was impossible to brake hard any more. But I finished both races, and took points. After breaking my collarbone, I was maybe not going to be able to race here, so we should be happy with the points.”
Ben Bostrom, Renegade Honda KOJI, Race 1 – eleventh, Race 2 – sixth: “That felt a lot better, it was nice to run up there in the top six but I need to get more aggressive on the starts though,” he smiled. “I was a little tentative the first race then in race two I was a little better. I got behind some of those faster guys but could not quite get past them. It was frustrating but it was fun watching Kagayama in front of me. We said we would come here and turn it around and to some extent we did. Now we are in the top ten, I want to be in the top five at Monza.”
Max Neukirchner, Klaffi Honda, Race 1 – crashed, Race 2 - twelfth: “In the first race I had a big highside. It came round so quickly and then I think I went up about five meters! I made a little mistake on the brake in race two and that made it a very hard race in the second part. I am not happy but I am not too badly injured. I have hurt my throttle and braking hand and that did not help me in race two.”
Karl Muggeridge Race 1 – crashed, Race 2 – crashed: "I couldn’t believe it when Neukirchner’s bike went up in the air in front of me. I’ve got a big black mark from one of his tyres down the back of my shoulder and had to duck to get out of its way. I guess I was lucky not to go off right then but managed to get all the way through the gravel and then slid off right at the end. When I eventually got going again my lap times would have had me battling for fourth, I think. I was pretty comfortable in race two, not pushing too hard and conserving tyres for the end of the race. Then I just lost the front and tried to save it, but my foot was stuck under the bike and that was it.”
James Toseland, reigning Champion, Ducati Xerox Team, race 1 - eighth in race 1 race 2 – crashed and remounted to finish 19th after he had to make a pit-stop to change the front wheel following a lap 4 incident caused by another rider: “I was riding round with people I shouldn’t be riding round with, given the qualifying position” said Toseland. “I got a decent start again but going into turn 4 a Yamaha came steaming underneath me and pushed me really wide. I was lucky to stay on and then had to change the front tyre because the brakes were locking up. Monza is the next race, we just need to find some traction because there’s not much wrong with the top speed of the bike. We’re struggling and we need to find the form again but there’s nothing wrong with the bike and nothing wrong with me. We rode hard in the first race but couldn’t really do much more after going off the track in race 2.”
Ducati Xerox Team director Paolo Ciabatti: “Unfortunately it was a weekend to forget for us. This morning Régis was quicker than everyone in the warm-up but his crash meant that he could not take part in the two races, in which I am sure he would have given Corser a hard time. James on the other hand, was unable to find the right direction in qualifying and this conditioned his two races on Sunday. Now is the time to concentrate on Monza and focus all of our energies on the next round, which is traditionally an important appointment for Superbike and for Ducati”.
Régis Laconi, Ducati Xerox Team, suffered concussion in morning warm-up, did not start: “I am fine but now I just need a few days to recover for Monza. It’s a track I like, we are at home and Ducati is always very fast” declared Laconi. “This was a very big crash and I feel very lucky because I could easily have broken something and been out of action for some time. I am obviously disappointed because I wanted to take part in the second race, but I did receive a big bang on the head and was unconscious for a few minutes so the doctors said it was better that I didn’t.”
Steve Martin, Team Foggy Petronas: "There are not too many positives to take out of the weekend, although we will hopefully get some benefit from using the latest engine during qualifying here when we go to Monza. I tried my hardest in the second race and the bike was better in the braking areas than in the first race. But, when the tyre started to go off, I didn't have enough control or feel. In the first race, Nieto was holding me up and if I had sat there any longer the pack behind me would have come past. I had overtaken him twice but he immediately passed me back down the start-finish straight. I lost the front end trying to make another overtaking move stick because, if I had got past him at that part of the circuit, I would have half a lap in which to make a bit of a gap on him."
Garry McCoy, Team Foggy Petronas: "Unfortunately, this was just a repeat of Phillip Island for me. After not finishing the first race, I went into the second really wanting to finish, no matter what. But, from starting where we are on the grid, we are playing around with people that we shouldn't be. I was playing everything pretty safe but Silva had passed me three times already and each time had run wide. On lap four I passed him again down the front straight and, as I started braking, he flew back past and ran wide again. Then he came from off line into the white paint and left me with nowhere to go. When we touched, my rear end lost traction and span me round. In the first race I noticed on the grid that we had a bit more tail wind than we had had all weekend, which worried me. Sure enough, I was running out of gears at the end of the straight and was on the hard limiter a couple of times. I was being patient with the guys in front as a few of them were pushing very hard but I was losing out on the straights and getting held up in the corners before the engine problem occurred. So I decided to use the latest specification engine for race two and wanted to get as much information for Monza as possible."
Jack Valentine, Foggy Petronas Team Manager: "The whole team has put in an extremely motivated performance and we are not getting the results we feel we deserve. The riders are pushing hard to pick up as many points as possible, as could be seen in Steve's crash in the first race. I would put his result in the second race down to a tyre problem, although we know we are still struggling with punch out of the corners. Garry was unlucky in both races. I think we have benefited from using the latest engine development here and, although we have more work to do at Monza, we are hoping that circuit will suit the engine better than this tight track."
World Superbike Results:
Race 1: Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'31.052 / 2 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 37'40.168 / 9.116 3 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'43.840 / 12.788 4 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 37'47.919 / 16.867 5 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 37'48.934 / 17.882 6 / S. GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 37'57.547 / 26.495 7 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 37'59.836 / 28.784 8 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 38'07.656 / 36.604 9 / S. FUERTES / ESP / Reynolds Motorrad / 38'10.576 / 39.524 10 / D. CHECA / ESP / Yamaha GMT 94 / 38'10.827 / 39.775 11 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 38'11.099 / 40.047 12 / B. BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 38'13.993 / 42.941 13 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 38'18.557 / 47.505 14 / L. ALFONSI / ITA / D.F.X. Treme / 38'18.637 / 47.585 15 / I. SILVA / ESP / LaGlisse / 38'20.045 / 48.993 Fastest Lap 2° Troy Corser 1'36.721 149,068 Km/h
Race 2 : Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time / 1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'52.057 / 2 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 37'57.418 / 5.361 3 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 37'59.241 / 7.184 4 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 38'02.657 / 10.600 5 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 38'03.960 / 11.903 6 / B. BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 38'11.257 / 19.200 7 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 38'11.402 / 19.345 8 / A. PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 38'15.303 / 23.246 9 / D. CHECA / ESP / Yamaha GMT 94 / 38'16.844 / 24.787 10 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 38'17.356 / 25.299 11 / S. GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 38'17.552 / 25.495 12 / M.NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 38'19.890 / 27.833 13 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 38'23.396 / 31.339 14 / G.VIZZIELLO / ITA / Italia Lorenzini by Leoni / 38'25.070 / 33.013 15 / L. ALFONSI / ITA / D.F.X. Treme / 38'26.081 / 34.024 Fastest Lap 2 Troy Corser 1'37.756 147.490 Km/h
World Superbike Points (after 3 rounds): 1 Troy Corser 141, 2 Yukio Kagayama 110, 3 Vermeulen 90, 4 Laconi 54, 5 Abe 44, 6 Neukirchner 41, 7 Haga 40, 8 Pitt 39, 9 Walker 38, 10 Toseland 30.
Supersport: Charpentier And Fujiwara Fight Hard For The Valencia Win
Honda’s CBR600RR continued to dominate the SuperSport class, with the Dutch Ten Kate Honda team again leaving the field to fight over the last place on the podium.
Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) took his second win of the year, but only after a hard last lap with his team-mate Katsuaki Fujiwara, who eventually scored second place. On the 23rd of 23 laps Fujiwara’s attempt to pass Charpentier up the inside of turn two was rebuffed firmly by Charpentier, with the riders seemingly leaning on each other at the approach to the next left. Fujiwara’s machine shuddered as he tried to pass inside Charpentier and he lost enough ground for the Frenchman to take the win by 0.844 seconds.
Charpentier had taken his third straight pole position of the season on Saturday, with his team-mate Fujiwara once more just behind. Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR rider Fabien Foret was third in qualifying but could not replicate this race conditions, going fifth after a lonely 23-laps in the 24°C air temperatures - significantly hotter than those in morning warm-up.
Kevin Curtain (Yamaha) took third spot from long-term podium hopeful Michel Fabrizio (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) who had to settle for fourth, some five seconds ahead of his team-mate Foret.
Charpentier, who extended his championship lead to 12 points over Fujiwara - 70 to 58 - acknowledged that his last lap toughness was all-important. “A good weekend with my third pole position, my second race win and the fastest lap of the race, but it was certainly not easy. After I got into an early lead I just tried to put in consistently fast laps. Before half race distance I was pushing plus zero on my pit board and I knew that Kats was there. For sure he pushed me very hard towards the end – especially on that final lap.”
Fujiwara, nine points clear of third placed championship contender Curtain, gave his all, and recognised the race-long speed of his team-mate. “Conditions changed very much from this morning, when it was cooler. All weekend the temperature has risen in the afternoon, and this has made the track very slippery. I was pushing as hard as I could and trying to keep a very tight line as I caught up to Sebastien. As soon as I got off the racing line the grip was gone and that made it very difficult to pass. I got quite close to him on that final lap – maybe a bit too close – but he was riding so well there was very little I could do to catch him.”
Kevin Curtain, Yamaha Motor Germany, third: “That was a really tough race. As always around here, tyre choice was something of a gamble, simply because the temperature and grip levels are always changing. I was happy to bring it home and finish on the podium because my back tyre was totally gone at the end, although I think it was the same for all the guys. But we’re leaving here third in the championship, hopefully we can now find that little bit extra to close the gap on Charpentier and Fujiwara.” Michel Fabrizio, Team Italia Megabike, fourth: “In the end I had to think about the championship. I put in a lot of effort trying to keep Curtain behind me and it worked for a long time. By my suspension was not set-up perfectly and when he went past he could go faster. We have a racing test at Monza next week so we will see what progress we can make with the suspension there." Fabien Foret, Team Italia Megabike Honda fifth: “At the beginning I tried very hard to stay with Charpentier but even after a couple of laps I realised that my suspension set-up was too far off and he was gone. So I could only go at a certain pace and I had to settle for what I had."
Broc Parkes, Yamaha Motor Germany, sixth: “I got hit real hard on the first corner and there was such a big bang that was sure the back tyre was flat. I took it easy for a few laps until I was sure everything was ok but once I got going the bike was actually really good and I was able to work my way up. By the end I caught Foret but this is a tough place to overtake and I just didn’t have enough time to make a pass.”
SUPERSPORT RACE: Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / S. CHARPENTIER / FRA / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 38'27.276 / 2 / K. FUJIWARA / JPN / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 38'28.120 / 0.844 3 / K. CURTAIN / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 38'48.658 / 21.382 4 / M.FABRIZIO / ITA / Italia Megabike / 38'52.878 / 25.602 5 / F. FORET / FRA / Team Megabike / 38'58.754 / 31.478 6 / B. PARKES / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 39'00.113 / 32.837 7 / B. VENEMAN / NED / Suzuki Netherland / 39'03.410 / 36.134 8 / G.NANNELLI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 39'05.352 / 38.076 9 / S. CHAMBON / FRA / Gil Motor Sport / 39'05.573 / 38.297 10 / J. STIGEFELT / SWE / Stiggy Motorsports / 39'06.026 / 38.750 11 / J. FORES / ESP / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 39'11.783 / 44.507 12 / W.DAEMEN / BEL / Van Zon Honda / 39'12.904 / 45.628 13 / S. LE GRELLE / BEL / Le Grelle Dholda in Action / 39'19.666 / 52.390 14 / A. TIZON / ESP / Promoracing / 39'19.739 / 52.463 15 / T. LAUSLEHTO / FIN / Klaffi Honda / 39'20.385 / 53.109 Fastest Lap 3 Sébastien Charpentier 1'38.976 145.672 Km/h
Riders Championship Standings: 1 Charpentier 70, 2 Fujiwara 58, 3 Curtain 49, 4 Foret 38, 5 Fabrizio 29, 6 Parkes 29, 7 Chambon 24, 8 Fores 18, 9 Stigefelt 16, 10 Nannelli 15