World Superbikes Rd 4: Suzuki & Honda share spoils
By Mike Hanlon
May 7, 2005
May 8, 2005 Team Alstare Suzuki Corona rider Troy Corser (GSXR1000) took a win and a third place in the fourth round of the World Superbike Championships at Monza today extending his lead to 52 points over team mate Yukio Kagayama. Honda’s Chris Vermeulen (CBR1000RR) scored a second race win to revive Honda’s chances in the series and Ducati showed a return to form with podiums in both races.
The weekend looked like it was going to be business as usual for Corser, who had won five of the six races held so far this year. He finished Friday’s practice as fastest and completed a full race distance in morning practise and almost as far in the afternoon.
But with the Winston ten Kate Hondas of Vermeulen and Muggeridge showing a turn of speed, and Regis Laconi punting the Ducati 999F05 as fast as anyone, the veteran and superpole expert knew his superpole lap had to be good. Things didn’t quite go to plan.
On his out lap, a bird hit his bike and then the brake lever and sent blood and feathers all over Troy’s right arm and shoulder. Part of the bird got stuck between Troy’s brake lever and cable, so Troy had to flick it out and then check for any damage before getting up to speed for his Superpole flying lap.
Troy then blasted his way round the 5.793 kilometre course, but the smallest of errors cost him another Superpole win. Instead it was his team mate Yukio Kagayama who took the honours - albeit by just seven thousandths of a second! Third quickest was Regis Laconi (Ducati) with Karl Muggeridge (Honda) fourth.
Superpole: 1. Kagayama (Suzuki) 1m47.439s; 2. Corser (Suzuki) 1m47.446s; 3. Laconi (Ducati Xerox) 1m47.885s; 4. Muggeridge (Honda) 1m48.054s; 5. Vermeulen (Honda) 1m48.128s; 6. Pitt (Yamaha) 1m48.580s; 7. Walker (Kawasaki) 1m48.613s; 8. Toseland (Ducati Xerox) 1m48.695s; 9. Chili (Honda) 1m48.908s; 10. Bussei (Kawasaki) 1m49.245s.
The bookmakers showed scant regard for Kagayama’s pole position in framing the odds for the first race though, installing Corser as a long odds-on favourite at 1.61 ahead of Kagayama (4.5), Laconi (6.0), Vermeulen (9.0), current champion James Toseland (17.0), Muggeridge (21.0), Kawasaki-mounted Chris Walker (21.0), Pitt (21.0), Haga (26.0), Chili (34.0) and Abe (34.0).
On race day Corser performed exactly as expected in the first race, putting his front row start to good use and in race one he grabbed the holeshot and Yamaha-mounted Andrew Pitt worked in his favour by jumping into second place and holding up the fastest chasers whilst Corser made a getaway.
On lap two the Honda CBR1000RR of Chris Vermeulen blew the motor and it seemed likely that the Honda challenge had dissipated, as promising first-year superbike rider Max Neukirchner was not a starter due to an operation he had on his thumb and front-row starter Karl Muggeridge had been almost last away, leaving Pier Francesco Chili to fly the Honda flag at the front. Though a race-winner at the high speed Monza circuit in the past, Chili is no longer capable of running at the front in a superbike race and despite a good start that saw him running in sixth from early on the first lap, he never looked like improving his position.
Muggeridge’s pace in riding through the field from near-tolast place was to be one of the highlights of the event. On the start line he got away slowly and tangled with another rider, losing his clutch lever. He battled through the early stages of lap one accounting for close to a dozen backmarkers to climb to eighteenth, another six on lap two to cross the start line in twelfth, then on consecutive laps he was eleventh, tenth, ninth, and eighth. From that point onwards, the going got a lot tougher because by the time he slotted into eighth on lap six, the leading pack had cleared out and though he reached sixth place on lap eight, he was to climb no higher.
After several attempts, both Regis Laconi and Yukio Kagayama made passes on Pitt stick on the first lap, with Toseland finally getting past on lap five and setting out after the leading group. Slowly but surely, as Laconi and Kagayama caught Corser, Toseland caught them all, and with two laps to go, all four riders were line astern and the drafting that makes Monza such a spectacular circuit for motorcycle racing began to come into play.
In the end it was Corser who was lucky – he was in front leading into the last lap, was passed by Kagayama, dived back underneath him almost immediately and was then fortunate as the three riders behind him began to swap places, letting him grab a break on the last lap which extended to almost a second at the flag with Kagayama grabbing second spot by jst six one hundredths of a second from Toseland.
Laconi led off the line in the second race, with Troy right in his wheeltracks followed by Kagayama and Pitt (Yamaha). But Troy’s front brakes started to vibrate a little and after that he found it impossible to brake as hard as he had done in the first race. Vermeulen (Honda) came past and then set about Laconi, catching and passing the Frenchman on the last lap before charging to his first win (and the first non-Alstare Suzuki win) of the season. Laconi took runner-up spot and Troy beat off Muggeridge’s (Honda) challenge to claim third spot.
Corser has withstood the challenge seemingly so easily in the first race that many people thought he’d done it with plenty to spare. For the seond race the money was all for Corser and by the time the race started, Corser was being quoted by the bookies at 1.3 with Kagayama at 5.5 ahead of Toseland (10.0) who had been installed third favourite due to his excellent first race pace. Then followed Laconi (11.0), Muggeridge (12.0), Vermeulen (26.0), Pitt (26.0), Walker (34.0), Haga (34.0), Chili (41.0) and Abe (51.0).
Laconi led off the line in the second race, with Corser right in his wheeltracks followed by Kagayama and Pitt. But Corser’s front brake started to vibrate and he couldn’t brake as hard as he had done in the first race, making it difficult to stay with the hard charging Frenchman intent on putting up a show in Ducati’s important home race.
Corser stuck as close as he could to Laconi until Kagayama blew past on lap 10 only to run off the track later that lap and although he held it upright in the gravel for as long as he could, getting going again was too difficult and the diminutive Jalanese rider had blown his chance to get back on even terms with Corser.
From that point forward, Corser began riding for the championshipo, aware that his closest rival had fallen and that a good finish would extend his lead by the number of points he would score.
Vermeulen went past him too and then set about catching Laconi, passing the Frenchman on the last lap before charging to his first win and the first non-Alstare Suzuki win of the season.
Laconi took runner-up spot and Corser was very fortunate to beat off Muggeridge’s challenge to claim third spot.
Troy Corser, Alstare Corona Suzuki, Race 1 - 1st, Race 2 -3rd: "Race one was good and I had no problems at all really. I got off the line well and then made a bit of a break after a couple of laps. But, it is always close here and as the race wore on, the pack closed in on me. Yukio passed me on the last lap, but I went under him and overtook him. We touched briefly, but it was only a minor touch and there was no danger at all. After that I just put my head down and ran to the flag to win by nearly a second. In race two, I had some problems with the front brakes almost from the start. There was a bit of vibration when I braked hard and then they began to get hot when I was behind Regis and Chris. I think my Alstare Suzuki was as fast as them but I couldn’t brake as hard as I did in the first race. I couldn’t do much about Regis and Chris but I was determined not to let ‘Muggas’ beat me to the podium, so I braked as hard as I dared and managed to hold him off. I had already seen Yukio go off the track so I knew that I had extended my series lead. For us, it is not about winning every race - it’s the championship that counts."
Yukio Kagayama, Alstare Corona Suzuki, Race 1 - 2nd, Race 2 - DNF: "I enjoyed the first race very much - it was good fun. My team gave me a good bike and I was able to keep with Troy-san without any problems. I went past him going into a chicane but then I ran a little wide and he came past under me and maybe we touched - I don’t know. Then I tried to catch and pass him but he was too strong for me. I am happy because this was my first race at Monza and I was second. After Superpole yesterday, it was a good birthday present for me. The second race was not so good for me. After 10 laps, I made a little mistake when I missed my braking point in one of the Lesmo corners and then went into the gravel. The bike fell over at slow speed and the engine cut out. I tried to restart it but I think some small stones had got in to the airbox because the engine made a funny rattling noise. I knew then it was impossible to carry on. But, I am still second in the championship and one of my favourite circuits - Silverstone - is coming up next.”
Chris Vermeulen, Winston ten Kate Honda, Race 1 - DNF, Race 2 - first: "That win feels so good. We’ve all been working a very long time for that first win of the year, and it has been hard work. Two second places at Valencia were a step forward but we’ve made an even bigger one here at Monza. Once I got past Troy in race two I just put my head down and tried to get to Regis, who had been at the front for a long time. I caught him just at the right time on that last lap and managed to hang on. It certainly makes up for the disappointment of not finishing that first race, so overall it has been a very positive weekend.”
Régis Laconi Ducati Xerox, Race 1 - 4th, Race 2 - 2nd : “In the last few laps I saw on my pit board that someone was behind me but I didn’t have time to see who it was, as I was just trying to keep my small advantage. Maybe I pushed too much on my tyre to hold off Troy in the early laps because the left side was becoming very difficult and the tyre was sliding around. But I am very happy because I made a good race result and we pushed very hard to be there today. I really wanted to win today but Chris passed me on the last lap. He was just a little bit faster than me for the last few laps but we will see next time! I gave my best and I am happy when I get a result like that”.
James Toseland , Ducati Xerox, Race 1 - 3rd, Race 2 - 5th:: “I’m slightly disappointed that the second race wasn’t as good as the first but we had a bit of a spin problem and I wasn’t able to slipstream the Kawasaki and the Yamaha and when I did, after eight laps, the leaders had gone. The podium in race 1 was the best bonus for me. It was a race in which I showed everyone, the team and myself that I am capable of repeating my performances of last season. The team has been well-organised all weekend, we found a great set-up at the start and we were able to run two confident races. It’s been a positive weekend all round because I was on the podium and I’m taking a trophy home to Silverstone for the British Round”.
Karl Muggeridge, Winston ten Kate Honda, Race 1 - 6th, Race 2 - 4th: "I would have so liked to have got on that second podium, but I made a small mistake exiting the first chicane on the last lap and Troy managed to make a gap. I should have beaten him but it wasn’t to be. The bike is much better and it’s been a good weekend for us. There is still heaps of work to do but we really have something now that can take us forward for the rest of the season."
Pier Francesco Chili, Klaffi Honda, Race 1 - 7th, Race 2 - 7th: "In the second race I had a better start and I could see the leaders and stay on the back of them for a while. I was riding behind Toseland and I only then I noticed that there was a little difference between my bike and the rest. The general problem is that there is not enough grip on the back and that is stopping us driving off the corners better."
Andrew Pitt, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1 - 5th, Race 2 - 6th : “We are chipping away at it every weekend and improving every time out. I just couldn’t get right with Toseland in race two, because I didn’t have the drive out of the corner that he had. I could make it up in the entries but he would get it back on the exits. The main thing is that we’re getting the front tyres to last now and that has given me confidence in the front for the whole race."
Noriyuki Haga, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1 - 11th, Race 2 - 9th : “I changed to a medium tyre on the rear and I think it worked well but we still don’t have a perfect balance on the bike. So it was not enough to let me challenge. The engine was better in the first race but in race two I changed the bike and it was not quite so quick as the first one."
Massimo Meregalli, Team Coordinator, Yamaha Motor Italia: “Like Andrew says, every time we are making improvements and when I saw how difficult it was for the Ducatis to pass Andrew on the straights I could see that we are working in the right direction. If we continue like this then I think the podium is a possibility."
Norick Abe, Yamaha Motor France, Race 1 - 10th, Race 2 - 12th: "It was the first time for me at Monza but every day I improved. In the first race things were not so bad but I did not have a good feeling from the front end. If this was fixed I think I could have gone five tenths faster each lap. So we modified the settings for race two - but it was even worse than race one."
Martial Garcia, Team Manager, Yamaha Motor France: “For the first time we were happy about qualifying at the right time because at the end the riders both made superpole. But for the race we expected more. It was a real shame for Sebastien because a stone went through his radiator and all the water leaked out. After the first lap the temperature went almost to maximum. We have to forget about this one and move on to Silverstone.”
Superbike Race 1: (Laps 18 = 104,274 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 32'40.906 / 2 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 32'41.891 / 0.985 3 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 32'41.946 / 1.040 4 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 32'42.663 / 1.757 5 / A. PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 32'49.515 / 8.609 6 / K. MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 32'53.341 / 12.435 7 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 32'53.534 / 12.628 8 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 32'57.562 / 16.656 9 / G.NANNELLI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 33'01.387 / 20.481 10 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 33'02.025 / 21.119 11 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'04.075 / 23.169 12 / M.BORCIANI / ITA / DFXtreme Sterilgarda / 33'20.780 / 39.874 13 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 33'20.986 / 40.080 14 / M.SANCHINI / ITA / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 33'22.390 / 41.484 15 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 33'22.861 / 41.955 Fastest Lap 8° Yukio Kagayama 1'48.082 192,953 Km/
Superbike Race 2 : (Laps 17 = 98,481 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time / 1 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 30'49.758 / 2 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 30'50.340 / 0.582 3 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 30'52.216 / 2.458 4 / K. MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 30'53.137 / 3.379 5 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 30'59.659 / 9.901 6 / A. PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 30'59.834 / 10.076 7 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 31'00.874 / 11.116 8 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 31'01.345 / 11.587 9 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 31'16.694 / 26.936 10 / G.NANNELLI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 31'23.217 / 33.459 11 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 31'24.942 / 35.184 12 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 31'25.370 / 35.612 13 / M.SANCHINI / ITA / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 31'26.575 / 36.817 14 / L. CONFORTI / ITA / Guandalini / 31'35.231 / 45.473 15 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 31'37.108 / 47.350 Fastest Lap 14° Chris Vermeulen 1'48.233 192,684 Km/h Riders Championship Standings: 1 CORSER 182, 2 KAGAYAMA 130, 3 VERMEULEN 115, 4 LACONI 87, 5 PITT 60, 6 TOSELAND 57, 7 WALKER 54, 8 ABE 54, 9 HAGA 52, 10 CHILI 44, 11 NEUKIRCHNER 41, 12 MUGGERIDGE 38, 13 BUSSEI 31, 14 GIMBERT 26, 15 BOSTROM 19.
WORLD SUPERSPORT - FUJIWARA GIVES HONDA FOURTH WIN OF THE SEASON
Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR riders Sebastien Charpentier and Katsuaki Fujiwara once more dominated proceedings in the Supersport class, with the Japanese rider taking the win, his second of the season, after 16 laps of intense and exciting Supersport action. Having fought for most of the race with the Ducati 750 of Gianluca Nannelli, Charpentier (on pole) and Fujiwara (second fastest in qualifying) ended up in a two-rider fight, with an audacious attempted final pass by Charpentier,up the inside at the Parabolica, causing him to run marginally too wide. Fujiwara dived to the inside, causing Charpentier to adjust his line once more, and with the finish line so close to the final corner, Fujiwara held on by only 0.036 seconds.
Second row qualifier Michel Fabrizio (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) handicapped himself with a dreadful start after selecting the wrong gear, but battled through to 11th by the end of lap one. He finished fourth, unable to reach the slowing Nannelli, and also unable to get clear of the fifth place rider, Kevin Curtain (Yamaha).
Fabien Foret (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) was excluded from the race for practicing and racing at Monza, in an Italian Championship race, one weekend prior to the Monza World Supersport event. The rider was unavailable for comment after the exclusion, which saw him black-flagged from the first timed qualifying session on Friday.
In the championship battle, Charpentier has had his margin of advantage cut to seven points over Fujiwara, 90 to 83, with Curtain keeping third spot with 60 points, and Fabrizio now fourth overall on 42. Foret is fifth, with an unchanged total of 38.
Fujiwara, punching the air in unbridled joy at his hard taken win, now knows he did his championship charge a huge favour at Monza, but was lost in the moment after another classic battle.
”The team has been working very hard throughout the season and they deserve this as much as me. Congratulations to Sebastien and Gianluca for a great race. It was not so easy to pass either of them today but my CBR600RR was perfect the engine was very strong and the tyres were fantastic. It was very close with Sebastien on the last lap and we touched a few times but its a world Supersport race and its sometimes like that!”
Charpentier admitted to a small error that maybe cost him the race, but knows he still has the upper hand in the points totals.
”I think we put on a very good show today, for all the spectators and fans watching at home on TV. Katsuaki was very strong and I tried very hard to take the race win on the final lap. But I shifted down one too many gears going into the Parabolica for the last time and ran a little bit wide, which allowed Katsuaki to pass me. Second place is good for the championship.”
Fabrizio, had a bizarre start to what could have been a glorious home race for the lone Team Italia Megabike in the starting line-up.
”I rolled up to the line for the start and somehow forgot the gear order. So I tried to start with sixth gear selected. Seeing the rhythm of the raceI knew I could probably stay with the Ten Kate bikes if I had got a better start. I had a six second gap to make up from the first lap and was down in 22nd position at one stage. I arrived late to the leading group after passing almost everyone in the field. So in different circumstances I could have run a fantastic race. I lost more time trying to get free of Curtains Yamaha, because he knew that he could take some of my speed in the slipstream.”
On May 27-29 at Silverstone round five of both Supersport and Superbike classes takes place.
Results Supersport: 1 / K. Fujiwara / Jpn / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 30'15.930 / 2 / S. Charpentier / Fra / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 30'15.966 / 0.036 3 / G.Nannelli / Ita / Ducati Sc Caracchi / 30'18.656 / 2.726 4 / M.Fabrizio / Ita / Italia Megabike / 30'23.973 / 8.043 5 / K. Curtain / Aus / Yamaha Motor Germany / 30'24.093 / 8.163 6 / T. Lauslehto / Fin / Klaffi Honda / 30'42.496 / 26.566 7 / B. Parkes / Aus / Yamaha Motor Germany / 30'42.562 / 26.632 8 / S. Chambon / Fra / Gil Motor Sport / 30'42.870 / 26.940 9 / I. Goi / Ita / Bike Service / 30'53.427 / 37.497 10 / S. Le Grelle / Bel / Le Grelle Dholda In Action / 30'53.616 / 37.686 11 / J. Fores / Esp / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 30'53.873 / 37.943 12 / B. Veneman / Ned / Suzuki Nederland / 31'00.128 / 44.198 13 / J. Stigefelt / Swe / Stiggy Motorsports / 31'03.884 / 47.954 14 / T. Miksovsky / Cze / Intermoto Czech Republic / 31'13.492 / 57.562 15 / M.Baiocco / Ita / Lightspeed Kawasaki / 31'21.888 / 1'05.958
Riders Championship Standings: 1 Charpentier 90, 2 Fujiwara 83, 3 Curtain 60, 4 Fabrizio 42, 5 Foret 38, 6 Parkes 38, 7 Chambon 32, 8 Nannelli 31, 9 Lauslehto 24, 10 Fores 23, 11 Stigefelt 19, 12 Veneman 13, 13 Vd Goorbergh 11, 14 Le Grelle 9, 15 Miksovsky 9.