World Superbike Championships Rd 6: Ducati fights back
By Mike Hanlon
June 26, 2005
June 27, 2005 A splendid double win for Régis Laconi thrilled a large Santamonica crowd yesterday to rejuventate the Ducati Xerox Team’s manufacturers championship ambitions but title leader Troy Corser appears safely in control of the riders championship. In a sweltering Misano (air temperature hovering around 32° and track 53°), the French rider scored two dominant wins, finishing twice on the top of the podium together with Australians Chris Vermeulen (Honda) and Corser (Suzuki) in that order. Team-mate James Toseland also rode two determined races but had to settle for two fourth places. Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Corser failed to extend his championship lead for the first time at an event this year, though he was no doubt aware in the first race that as the final laps counted down, he was losing just one point of his 78 point series lead, and similarly in the second race, he knew that second placed Chris Vermeulen was only taking four points from his 77 point lead. At the half way mark of the series, Corser appears safe as he has yet to finish off the podium and the inconsistency of those that are capable of beating him means he has a massive points lead on each of them.
The high temperature and very humid conditions would have been testing enough if there had only been one 25-lap race, but to compete in two was an absolute feat of endurance.
At the end of the day, Corser was happy to survive, take two podiums and leave with a 73-point advantage over his nearest rival, Honda-mounted Chris Vermeulen. Suzuki continue to lead the Manufacturer’s Championship with their GSX-R1000s earning 263 points so far, 63 ahead of Ducati.
Corser’s team mate Yukio Kagayama had a day that he will be happy to forget: He crashed out in the first race holding third place and, because his bike was too badly damaged, had to use his number two bike in the second race. But the number two bike had a different set-up and he struggled to keep up with the pace, ending up twelfth and dropping from second to fourth in the points table, now 106 points in arrears of Corser with his title hopes all but gone.
Both races today were won by Frenchman Regis Laconi (Ducati), but he had to work hard for the wins: Vermeulen and Corser had challenged him throughout both 25-lappers, but Laconi was on a mission and would not be denied.
Régis Laconi, Ducati Xerox, Race 1: 1st, Race 2: 1st: “This was the second double win of my career, but my first this year and I am so happy” declared Laconi. “Ducati have done a great job to help me win these races today. They were both really hard because of the conditions but the second race was even more so. In particular the last five laps were terrible and I just wanted to finish because really I couldn’t do any more, I was just sliding everywhere and I slowed down so much at the finish because I was so tired. A big thanks to Ducati and thanks to my team, we did a great job today and this double win is for them!”
Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali: “This is a great day for us because Misano is always one of our home circuits. There were a lot of people from Ducati here today and a lot of our fans around the circuit. We know that the competition in Superbike has improved a lot this year and that for sure we’re going to have to work really hard during the rest of the season, but today Laconi rode two extraordinary races and fully deserved the wins.”
Chris Vermeulen, Team Winston Ten Kate Race 1: 2nd, Race 2: 2nd: “I was a little closer to Regis (Laconi) that time but the important thing was that I finished ahead of Troy in both races. Regis was really strong today and, although I was OK through the faster parts of the circuit, where I could pick up a tenth or two, I had very little grip in the tighter sections. I nearly lost it in the last chicane on virtually every lap. It was hard work in the heat and doubly hard having to compensate for no grip and the last five laps were really tough.”
Troy Corser, Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra, Race 1: 3rd, Race 2: 3rd: “That was without a doubt one of the hardest day’s racing of my life. One race in these conditions would have been bad enough. But two was murder. The heat was one thing, but today was much more humid then the past two days and that really sapped my energy. I had some clutch problems in both races today and I feel that prevented me from doing better. Our GSX-R had a bit of a clutch problem in the opening round, but we thought we had sorted that out. I know that the bike doesn’t like doing lots of starts, so the first race was always going to be tricky because the two-parter and a false start meant that I did three starts! So I spent most of the second part - 20 laps - without a clutch. That made it particularly difficult on the brakes when I was close to Chris and Regis. In the end, I decided third was better then trying for second and making a mistake. I also had clutch problems in race two and could get right up to Chris, but wasn’t confident that I could get past safely and make it stick, so I settled for another third.”
James Toseland, Ducati Xerox, Race 1: 4th, Race 2: 4th: “I rode really hard in both races. In the second we made a slight change but it didn’t make things much better. Unlike Régis I’ve never been unbelievably fast around here for some reason, which is my problem and I know I have to sort that out. I was good in a few places but I didn’t get the best feeling all weekend and it was a bit frustrating for me out there today. Coming home in fourth was not the plan but that was all I could get and I couldn’t do any more. I’ve had worse days and two fourths are not bad results but I have to feel a bit disappointed. I might have had a podium if the first race hadn’t been stopped”.
Noriyuki Haga, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1: 6th, Race 2: 6th:“I made real progress in the early laps but it was not easy coming up from 21st position in qualifying. Right at the end of race two I had passed Chili but I entered the first corner a little too hot maybe and he got past me again. The conditions made it very difficult today, very hard work and lots of sliding. But we made a good job with what we had.”
Massimo Meregalli, Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia: “I think Noriyuki did remarkably well in race conditions but I think this weekend shows the problems of our team being new to this championship. Misano is a difficult circuit and it is hard for to go there with no information from previous races. We had a tough time finding good settings in qualifying but the team tried to understand what Nori’s feelings about the bike were and last night we made real progress. We even made some positive changes between warm up and the first lap so I am very happy for the way that the team has worked this weekend.”
Pierfrancesco Chili , Klaffi Honda, Race 1: 7th, Race 2: 5th “I think we did as well as we could do with the conditions we had. When the tyres support me I can go fast like the guy in front but when the tyre performance drops down it drops our performance down too much. We need to make some more work with the rear linkage as well, because we are not giving the rear shock enough travel. I used the bigger rear tyres this weekend, and it brings with it heavy steering, but it does offer more rear grip, until it drops down.”
Norick Abe, Yamaha Motor France Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 15th “Again this was my first time at a new track but all weekend we have not had good grip from the rear. We tried so many settings and different suspension packages but everything was the same – no good. I used a qualifying tyre in practice but even here it was spinning all the time. I used the 200 section tyre all weekend, and it should have had more grip, but it didn’t make any difference.”
Andrew Pitt, Yamaha Motor Italia, Race 1: DNF, Race 2: DNF: “We spent a bit of time trying to choose a front tyre that would go the distance but I just had no grip, really strange. I was easing it into the entry of the last chicane, being careful, but it still went away. It’s been hard all weekend, struggling to find settings that worked. We improved bit by bit but the conditions made it worse.”
Yukio Kagayama - Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 12th: “I felt I was riding well today because I found a good feeling with my bike at this track which I did not have for the past two days. The first race was stopped after five laps and we had to start again and do a 20-lap race. I was in third place in that one and comfortable, but then I made a mistake exiting Tramonto when I got on the gas a bit too early and crashed. I was very angry - especially when I saw the damage to my bike. I could not use this bike again so I had to use my number two machine and the set-up was not as good. I had to do the 25 laps, try and stay upright and finish as high as I could. Before today, I really felt that I could get a podium or two, so I am disappointed how things turned out.”
Karl Muggeridge, Team Winston Ten Kate Race 1: 10th, Race 2: 7th: “I’m not feeling so great with this stomach problem that just left me with no energy after seven or eight laps. On top of the other problems that everyone else seems to have, it was just really, really hard work. I really think that without Clinica Mobile I wouldn’t have been able to do the second race today. They dosed me up with some fluids after race one, when I was just riding around really. I didn’t feel too bad at the start of race two but about six laps from the end I was getting a little queasy again. It’s a real shame because I was so much happier on the bike this weekend.”
Max Neukirchner , Klaffi Honda Race 1: DNF, Race 2: DNF: “In the first race I was behind Frankie and I did not see the red flag right away. So Frankie braked and I hit him, touching my brake lever and then crashing. In the restart the front brake was not right and I had to adjust it four or five times. It was still inconsistent, so I could never work out a real braking point each corner, and I fell again. In the second race I had a problem with the exhaust becoming very noisy, and something slippy going onto the rear tyre, so I had a lot of slides.” Ben Bostrom, Renegade Honda, Race 1: 14th, Race 2: DNF: “I had a big crash this morning, which didn’t help, but race one wasn’t so bad. I just wanted to get more grip for the second race so I changed to the largest section rear tyre. It was a bad choice because we were just ploughing the front. You can only ride the thing like that so much and then you will crash. The lights also went red, then yellow, then red, in the restarted race, so a few of us went, wondering what was going on.”
The seventh rounds of the WSS and SBK championships take place at Brno on 17th July, a venue not used for SBK racing since the 1996 season.
Race 1: 1 Laconi (I-Ducati), 2 Vermeulen (Aus-Honda), 3 Troy Corser (Aus-Suzuki), 4 Toseland (GB-Ducati), 5 Lanzi (I-Ducati), 6 Haga (J-Yamaha), 7 Chili (I-Honda), 8 Walker (GB-Ducati), 9 Nieto (E-Ducati), 10 Muggeridge (Aus-Honda).
Race 2: 1 Laconi, 2 Vermeulen, 3 Troy Corser (Suzuki), 4 Toseland, 5 Chili, 6 Haga, 7 Muggeridge, 8 Martin (Aus-Petronas), 9 Lanzi, 10 Bussei (I-Kawasaki), 12 Yukio Kagayama (J- Suzuki).
WSB World Points: 1 Corser 254, 2 Vermeulen 181, 3 Laconi 162, 4 Kagayama 148, 5 Toseland 124, 6 Haga 88, 7 Walker 87, 8 Chili 86, 9 Pitt 70, 10 Muggeridge 65.
Charpentier Leads Honda Top Three in World SuperSport At Misano
In the superheated temperatures of an Italian summer Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) took his fourth win of the year, extending his championship advantage to 34 points. The early front-runner was pole position rider Fabien Foret (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) but after a close battle for the last half of a delayed 23-lap race, there was a mere 0.496 between the Frenchmen. Foret had led for ten laps, but from then on in, despite some valiant efforts, Charpentier was the leader across the line.”
Charpentier’s team-mate, Katsuaki Fujiwara (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) looked to be keeping a watching brief on proceedings, but dropped back as tyre wear and the sheer pace of the leading duo told. Nonetheless, he finished a comfortable third, over eight seconds ahead of fourth placed rider Kevin Curtain (Yamaha).