World Superbike Brands Hatch: Corser 1 & 2 and extends lead, Haga & Yamaha 2 & 1
By Mike Hanlon
August 6, 2005
August 7, 2005 Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Troy Corser placed first and second in the two fiercely-contested 25-lap battles at Brands Hatch today, swapping positions with Yamaha’s Noriyuki Haga in the final race to take 45 points away from the weekend and further extend his championship lead to 110 points. Corser and Haga were wheel to wheel from the start to the finish of the races and served up a feast of closely-fought action in front of more than 100,000 spectators.
In race one, Corser and Haga swapped the lead several times, but Corser was in front on the last lap and held on to take his eighth win of the season. Regis Laconi (Ducati) took third ahead of Chris Vermeulen (Honda), Chris Walker (Kawasaki) and Karl Muggeridge (Honda).
The second race was almost a repeat of the first, but this time the results were reversed: Corser took the lead on the last lap but was forced to take to the grass when he outbraked himself going into Westfield. Somehow he managed to stay onboard, but by the time he had recovered, Haga had a clear run to the chequered flag. Third spot went to Vermeulen with Walker fourth, Laconi fifth and Pitt (Yamaha) sixth.
Corser’s summary of the day went as follows: “Although we had a good points lead before today, I’m a racer and if I can win, I want to win. The only time I feel I cannot win is if something is wrong with the bike and then I’ll take whatever points I can get. But my Alstare Suzuki was working superbly here at Brands today and so I went out to win both races. Nori Haga was very strong, but it was great fun to race against him and, although we were very close at times, there was nothing dangerous.
“In the first race there was no way I was going to settle for second and that’s why I charged so hard. It’s what I wanted to do in the second and I nearly managed it. I followed Nori for most of the race and made my move on the last lap. I got past him but then was in to Westfield a bit too hot and had to ease off the brakes and take to the grass. I kept it upright, gassed it again and rejoined the track, but then Nori was gone. I suppose I must have worried Francis Batta, our Team Manager, when I went off the track, but I still managed to take second without any problem. It’s my aim to win as many races as possible this year and finish on the podium in all the ones I don’t.”
For crowd favourite Noriyuki Haga, many of the early season problems with the Yamaha R1’s inability to turn appear to have been solved, and he will now become a force in the series, although a little too late to make any impact on the championship’s final outcome. “I had two fantastic races with Troy. In the second I led almost from the first lap to finish. Early on I tried to make a distance on him early but it was impossible. Later I tried some more crazy hard braking but still I could not make the gap. Unfortunately for Troy he made a mistake and when I see that I have a very big smile in my helmet! I would like to thank my team and also Ohlins and Pirelli, because today the bike was very good. Now I go back to Japan for more holidays and when I come back I hope we have some more Nitro for Assen!””
Chris Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) once more found himself in the eye of a storm of World Superbike competitiveness, this time under sunny English skies. He was to finish his race weekend with a fourth and third place, the highest placed of the Fireblade riders on display. He maintained his second place in the championship, now trailing race one winner and runaway championship leader Troy Corser (Suzuki) by 110 points.
In the first race, Vermeulen was 4.5 seconds from the win, his front running teammate Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) strongly in the podium places until he dropped back to an eventual sixth.
In the second 25-lap race, the increased pace of leading riders Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) and Corser drew them eight seconds clear of Vermeulen in third. Less than perfect starts, from a second row position did not help Vermeulen in his race day efforts.
"I just got another bad start in race two and it’s so difficult to pass the other guys because they are fast around here,” said Vermeulen, after his eighth podium finish of the year. “I was a little bit quicker than them but by the time I eventually got past the first two guys were gone. Although I could match their lap times, I couldn’t catch them. I eased up a little towards the end because there is no point crashing out. We changed the rear spring for race two and this definitely felt a little better.”
One of the most disappointed riders of the weekend was james toseland who saw his last mathematical possibility of defending his 2004 title disappear. “I’m a bit devastated really” declared Toseland. “We qualified well, had the problem with the bike in first race and then on the warm-up lap the bike had a few vibrations so we changed it on the grid just to be sure. For the first three laps I thought I was pretty comfortable but then I couldn’t get the grip down and Troy and Nori just edged away. I was hoping for a mistake because I wasn’t stronger than them in any place. I chose the 200 mm tyre, which no one else had gone for, and in hindsight I should’ve chosen the 190 like the other guys but I felt pretty good with it even though we didn’t get the chance to do a full race distance. When the rear tyre starts to go down you’ve got no traction at the rear entering the corners, that makes the front push even more and you’ve got to brake earlier. If you do that you get overtaken and that’s what happened in race 2. A DNF and a seventh, same results as last year, Brands is frustrating. All these people wanted was to see was a Brit on the podium and they didn’t get that today.”
“I needed more grip to try and follow these guys from the beginning to the finish of race 1 but they were too fast and so I settled for third” declared Laconi. “We changed a few things on the bike for the second race but it didn’t make much improvement and so I just tried to do my best. I didn’t make a good start again and it was difficult to pass, everyone was just fighting like it was the last lap! I tried to pass James for third but put the wrong gear in and there was no engine braking and I went wide. After I tried one more time to gain some places but there was not much I could do. All weekend we used a different 190 tyre to everyone, the hardest one, and it was a surprise that we were unable to push harder. We had to try something to improve in race 2 but it just wasn’t enough.”
One of the early title leaders in the championship was Corser’s team-mate Yukio Kagayama. Kagayama defied doctor’s advice and the pain barrier to finish with a superb pair of hard-fought ninth places. The Japanese rider was competing with badly bruised ribs, but somehow managed to bring his GSX-R1000 Suzuki home in both races. In a few races, Kagayama has slipped from a serious contender to a distant fourth, with a point score of 172 points, exactly half that of his friend and fellow Suzuki rider. “I am very happy and relieved that today is over because that was more then hard work. I had more checks in the Clinica Mobile this morning and I was happy that they told me I had not broken any ribs. My ribs were still very sore and I had much pain today, but at least I was able to get on the bike, ride and get some points. Today I removed the strapping and instead I had two soft sponges, to act as cushions, under my leathers. Both races felt very, very long, but at least I finished them. Now I am going for a long sleep and a lot of rest.”
Andrew Pitt, Yamaha Motor Italia: “I enjoy the circuit and we just hardly touched it at all weekend as it felt good from the first session. After two bad races in Misano and Brno it’s been good to be running consistently at the front this weekend. Now I need to improve my consistency a little bit. I can do the same lap times as Noriyuki but he is able to do them throughout the race, while my times are not as consistent. I’m also still learning more about the Pirelli tyres but I’m glad to have got a good weekend here and look forward to Assen – a track which holds good memories for me.”
Norick Abe, Yamaha Motor France: "This track is very difficult and this year I have so many new circuits and I not so good at the new ones. Our race lap times were much better than our practice times so we worked well, but it was still not enough to get to the front. In race two I had bad luck with Martin. He ran wide, so I went inside, but he came back in and we fell."
Sebastien Gimbert, Yamaha Motor France: "In race two we had more grip and rear traction so we made better times. I am happier about race two, scored some points, but we took a long time to make a good setting."
Massimo Meregalli, Team Coordinator, Yamaha Motor Italia: "Our bike is going up in performance and we are really happy with the development. Already this week we will be testing something different, some parts that were ready for this race but unfortunately arrived too late. It was good to see Andrew back with a smile on his face and he rode aggressively and did not make any mistakes this weekend. After the first race Noriyuki said that he wanted to win the second race, and that he would have to change the set-up if he was to beat Corser. So we changed the final drive ratio and front springs. These were not small changes but Nori is always seeing things to change and normally they prove correct decisions.”
Martial Garcia, Team Manager, Yamaha Motor France: "Sebastien was one second faster than compared to last year, but so was everyone else, so the gap is still the same. Anyway, we found good setting but in the second race. In the first race we still had some problems. One of the problems is that Sebastien still has some pain in the leg so it was difficult to get good information. Our weekend was not too bad, except for the bad luck suffered by Norick with his crash."
Yamaha’s Andrew Pitt had two strong races at Brands. The Australian qualified alongside Haga on the second row of the grid and made to good starts to run with the group battling for third place, taking a seventh place in race one and improving to sixth in the second outing.
Yamaha Motor France riders Norick Abe and Sèbastien Gimbert had a difficult day in Brands. Abe made two lightning starts but struggled due to a lack of track knowledge, finishing 11th in the opener and retiring after crashing with Steve Martin (Petronas) in the second. Gimbert bagged two points for 14th in race two.
The results see both Yamaha Italia riders move up the championship table. Haga’s 45 point haul takes him to fifth, just five points behind countryman Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki), who occupies fourth, while Pitt moves up to ninth. Championship leader Troy Corser (Suzuki) left the United Kingdom with an improved advantage. He leads second placed Chris Vermeulen (Honda) by 110 points. Abe slides back to tenth in the standings.
Karl Muggeridge, who had just been passed by the aggressive Haga on lap two, applied too much throttle, and was spat over the top of his machine, cracking a bone in his hand in the ensuing crash.
Muggeridge’s fractured hand is not expected to give any problems for the next round in Assen, but spoiled what was a promising race for Ten Kate’s other Aussie, who was firmly in the leading three until his crash on lap two.
“I’m pretty upset with myself to be honest,” stated the Swiss resident Aussie. “Haga had just passed me on the inside at turn three and I was trying to square of the corner and get back to the next one. I just gave it too much and it spat me off. I think I tried to hold onto it a little to long because I’ve cracked a small bone in my hand.”
Neukirchner had tough weekend in general, qualifying only 17th and missing Superpole.
“The second race was especially hard because the lap times were very fast in this race,” stated the young German flier. “Our lap times were not bad, and very constant but I am not in the top ten in this race. But with the problems we had in practice all of Friday and Saturday, we did not have great grid positions.”
Chili, looking for better at one of his favourite circuits of the year, knew his set-up was way off, as he too also missed out on Superpole qualification, and started from the fifth row.
“In the second race we modified the bike completely because things just did not work out in race one,” said Chili. “Any time I gave the throttle a turn in race one the bike was jumping across the track. We made a big change but it didn't give me a solution to go fast. I was riding very badly and I am not happy about any of it. Now we go home and we relax in readiness for Assen."
The championship now makes a four week break before the Dutch round takes place at Assen, where Haga is scheduled to make his 150th world superbike appearance, and his 100th for Yamaha.
Superbike Race 1: (Laps 25 = 104,925 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / T. Corser / Aus / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 36'45.074 / 2 / N.Haga / Jpn / Yamaha Motor Italia Wsb / 36'45.260 / 0.186 3 / R. Laconi / Fra / Ducati Xerox / 36'47.050 / 1.976 4 / C. Vermeulen / Aus / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 36'49.664 / 4.590 5 / C.Walker / Gbr / Psg-1 Kawasaki Corse / 36'50.820 / 5.746 6 / K. Muggeridge / Aus / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 36'53.502 / 8.428 7 / A. Pitt / Aus / Yamaha Motor Italia Wsb / 36'53.672 / 8.598 8 / L. Lanzi / Ita / Ducati Sc Caracchi / 37'00.702 / 15.628 9 / Y. Kagayama / Jpn / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'00.745 / 15.671 10 / M.Neukirchner / Ger / Klaffi Honda / 37'13.324 / 28.250 11 / N. Abe / Jpn / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 37'17.544 / 32.470 12 / B. Bostrom / Usa / Renegade Koji / 37'17.574 / 32.500 13 / D.Hobbs / Gbr / Team Nvidia / 37'17.757 / 32.683 14 / P. Riba / Esp / Psg-1 Kawasaki Corse / 37'17.959 / 32.885 15 / S. Martin / Aus / Foggy Petronas Racing / 37'20.245 / 35.171 Fastest Lap 2° Noriyuki Haga 1'27.489 172,698 Km/H
Race 2 : (Laps 25 = 104,925 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time / 1 / N.Haga / Jpn / Yamaha Motor Italia Wsb / 36'39.815 / 2 / T. Corser / Aus / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 36'42.501 / 2.686 3 / C. Vermeulen / Aus / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 36'47.877 / 8.062 4 / C.Walker / Gbr / Psg-1 Kawasaki Corse / 36'51.868 / 12.053 5 / R. Laconi / Fra / Ducati Xerox / 36'52.859 / 13.044 6 / A. Pitt / Aus / Yamaha Motor Italia Wsb / 36'52.999 / 13.184 7 / J. Toseland / Gbr / Ducati Xerox / 36'54.030 / 14.215 8 / L. Lanzi / Ita / Ducati Sc Caracchi / 37'00.841 / 21.026 9 / Y. Kagayama / Jpn / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'00.990 / 21.175 10 / B. Bostrom / Usa / Renegade Koji / 37'01.072 / 21.257 11 / M.Neukirchner / Ger / Klaffi Honda / 37'09.130 / 29.315 12 / P. Riba / Esp / Psg-1 Kawasaki Corse / 37'10.406 / 30.591 13 / P. Chili / Ita / Klaffi Honda / 37'14.434 / 34.619 14 / S. Gimbert / Fra / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 37'19.547 / 39.732 15 / D.Hobbs / Gbr / Team Nvidia / 37'19.694 / 39.879 Fastest Lap 3° Noriyuki Haga 1'27.272 173,128 Km/H
Race 1: 1 Corser (Aus-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 2 Haga (J-Yamaha), 3 Laconi (F-Ducati), 4 Vermeulen (Aus-Honda), 5 Walker (GB-Kawasaki), 6 Muggeridge (Aus-Honda), 7 Pitt (Aus-Yamaha), 8 Lanzi (I-Ducati), 9 Kagayama (J-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 10 Neukirchner (D-Honda).
Race 2: 1 Haga, 2 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 3 Vermeulen, 4 Walker, 5 Laconi, 6 Pitt, 7 Toseland (GB-Ducati), 8 Lanzi, 9 Kagayama (J-Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), 10 Bostrom (USA-Honda).
Championship Points: 1 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 344, 2 Vermeulen 234, 3 Laconi 214, 4 Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 172, 5 Haga 167, 6 Toseland 161, 7 Walker 130, 8 Chili 111, 9 Pitt 95, 10 Abe 88, 11 Muggeridge 85, 12 Lanzi 66, 13 Neukirchner 63, 14 Bussei 46, 15 Bostrom 33.
SUPERSPORT RACE Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / S. Charpentier / Fra / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'33.153 / 2 / M.Fabrizio / Ita / Italia Megabike / 34'34.138 / 0.985 3 / K. Curtain / Aus / Yamaha Motor Germany / 34'34.326 / 1.173 4 / S. Chambon / Fra / Gil Motor Sport / 34'40.470 / 7.317 5 / F. Foret / Fra / Team Megabike / 34'40.930 / 7.777 6 / K. Fujiwara / Jpn / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'50.161 / 17.008 7 / A. Corradi / Ita / Ducati Selmat / 34'51.569 / 18.416 8 / C. Jones / Gbr / Northpoint Ekerold Honda / 34'54.284 / 21.131 9 / M.Lagrive / Bel / Moto 1 - Suzuki / 35'01.371 / 28.218 10 / C.Crutchlow / Gbr / Northpoint Ekerold Honda / 35'01.941 / 28.788 11 / J. Fores / Esp / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 35'03.006 / 29.853 12 / T. Tunstall / Gbr / Hardinge Bridgeport / 35'03.218 / 30.065 13 / R.Harms / Den / Stiggy Motorsports / 35'03.535 / 30.382 14 / T. Lauslehto / Fin / Klaffi Honda / 35'03.852 / 30.699 15 / J. Stigefelt / Swe / Stiggy Motorsports / 35'06.328 / 33.175 Fastest Lap 3° Sébastien Charpentier 1'29.380 169,045 Km/H Lap Record: Stéphane Chambon 1'29.149 169,480 Km/H 2003
Riders Championship Standings: 1 Charpentier 190, 2 Fujiwara 116, 3 Curtain 109, 4 Foret 85, 5 Fabrizio 82, 6 Chambon 68, 7 Parkes 60, 8 Nannelli 56, 9 Fores 52, 10 Lauslehto 42, 11 Veneman 33, 12 Stigefelt 28, 13 Corradi 25, 14 Harms 21, 15 Jones 18.