German WSBK: Vermeulen wins, Corser falters, Lanzi stars
By Mike Hanlon
September 11, 2005
September 12, 2005 Winston Ten Kate Honda rider Chris Vermeulen won one race and finished second in another at Lausitz in Germany on the weekend, with Troy Corser’s championship point lead being cut to just 60 points with two rounds (four races) of the championship remaining. The race meeting will be remembered though for the birth of a new star in superbike ranks. Although he has featured in cameo appearances at the pointy end of major events a few times, Lorenzo Lanzi completed a sensational weekend for the Ducati Xerox Team as he stormed to the win in race two after being penalized with a ride-through in the first race. The 23-year-old Italian rider, made his debut for the factory team at the weekend in place of the injured Régis Laconi, took superpole in a blaze of glory and might even had a double win today, but for a mistake in the opening corner of the first race. Lanzi becomes the first Italian rider to win on a Ducati factory machine since Pierfrancesco Chili at Assen in 1998.
Lanzi missed a gear as the field went into Turn 1 just after the start and had to pass through the circuit banking, specially created by the organisers as the run-off area. The Italian rider re-joined the race in third position, thus not infringing any sporting regulation, but failed to negotiate the slow-down chicane in the run-off, judging it to be impossibly tight. For the penalty Lanzi had to go through the pit-lane at regulation 60 km/h speed limit and he re-joined the race at the required point, but this time in eleventh place. As Chris Vermeulen took the win, Lanzi eventually finished eighth.
One of the gutsiest performances of the day was that of championship leader Corser. Corser ran at the front of race one, happy to take third place and retain an enormous championship lead, but in the second race, the bike slid down while he was leading. He remounted, fired the bike up and carried on, dead last by a considerable margin. But he put his head down and managed to pick off 15 riders before finishing in 13th place, adding three valuable points to his tally, and with lanzi taking the 25 point haul for first place, Vermeulen only cut 17 points from Corser’s lead when it could very easily have been the full 25 points.
For Vermeulen, the meeting saw him take his third consecutive win – he is now the only rider with a mathematical chance of taking the title away from Corser.
Chris Vermeulen, Winston Ten Kate Honda: “We tested here in July and that’s maybe given us an advantage over the others. That said, conditions in the last few laps of race one were pretty dicey, so It was a good thing that they stopped the race. We did all our practice here in 35 °C track temperatures and now it’s at least 10 degrees cooler, so tyre choice was always a bit of a concern. In race two I got off OK but then it bogged down a bit. I pulled the clutch back in but then the bike’s front end came up and I ended up about eighth. It was a big job passing everyone, especially at this track. By the time I had to chase Lanzi down he had a big lead and my tyres were pretty shot.”
Lorenzo Lanzi, Ducati Corse: “Vermeulen went a bit wide and as I was trying to take the turn I missed a gear and selected first instead of second, got the bike a bit crossed and went straight on. But I did what the regulations say for this track – I came back into the race in third place. The chicane should be made suitable for bikes, and it was impossible to get through due to its tight layout. I was also given the drive-through quite late after five or six laps, I wasn’t expecting it any more. I’m disappointed because my race pace was capable of taking me to the win”.
“A dream race and a dream weekend. I clearly tried to go at maximum pace throughout the race but also to have a race pace sufficient not to make any mistakes and keep the others behind. I saved my tyres until four laps from the end and then I pushed as hard as possible in the final laps to keep Vermeulen behind me. We showed in race 2 that we could win, and that we could even have won race 1 as well. I am so happy, it’s been a fantastic weekend. It’s the dream of every Italian rider to win a race on a Ducati and this weekend I was able to express all of my potential”.
James Toseland, Ducati Corse: “It was a difficult weekend, the second race was disappointing because I was catching them and then I lost the front at the first turn. I wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong and it was a pity because I felt I could have got closer to the guys at the front. We had a decent set-up but it wasn’t perfect and were unable to improve as much as we should have. We would have been racing at the front if I had stayed on but that’s racing. Congratulations for Lorenzo, it’s a dream come true. I feel sure we could have both been on the podium and it was certainly possible in that second race.”
Troy Corser, Alstare Corona Suzuki: “I was happy to take third spot in the first race after the problems with chattering during the race. We had changed our rear tyre on the start line and were running the same as Chris and Nori, but the tyre affected the set-up and along came the chatter. I also ran in a bit hot going into turn one early on and then had to get my rhythm settled again. That little mistake allowed Chris and Nori to pull out a small gap and it was impossible to catch them again, so I settled for third and a podium.
“I really believed another podium or a win was on the cards for race two because I had been enjoying the bike again this weekend. At Assen, we had some problems which were never fully resolved, but here at Lausitz I just felt more comfortable.
“The crash in race two came as a big surprise as I felt I had not done anything different at that turn before. I lost the front and rear together and went down without warning. I cradled the bike as I went down and then picked it up again as soon as I could. The bike fired up first time but the gear lever was a bit bent so I spent some time finding a gear. I couldn’t use the clutch - the lever was bent upwards - and one of the bars was crooked. All in all, it handled pretty well really. I know I could’ve pulled in when I crashed but I just wanted to get back on the track and try and grab some points - and that’s what I did.”
Yukio Kagayama, Alstare Corona Suzuki: “I am much happier today with my fourth and fifth because I feel that I am getting back into it after a few average races. The results today have given me my confidence back and now I can think about the next two races very positively. My real problem today has been trying to find a good rhythm right from the start of the races. In both races it took me about four or five laps and by then the leaders had gone! If I can get that sorted out, I feel I can be in the leading group instead of chasing them from a distance. I have got four races left and I am determined to get more podiums and maybe some more race wins!”
Max Neukirchner, Klaffi Honda: “It was an OK raceday. We had many fans and family with us here so there was a lot of pressure. To take seventh two times was good for me and I made a lot of points. That I am happy with; a nice way to head to Imola.”
Karl Muggeridge: “In race one I got baulked by Kagayama and had to readjust the bike, then we had to retire. I could have done with the experience of the whole first race to get the set-up a little bit. I just rode my butt off in race two and that was all I could do. I wanted a pit stop so that I could adjust the setting on the bike!”
Pierfrancesco Chili, Klaffi Honda: “Things were good on Friday but today was not good. In the first there was a problem with the bike and we had to change the engine for the second race. It was a completely different spec, with a different gearbox and the chassis settings didn’t work. It was too high at the front and every time I went wide in the corners. It was very strange.”
Noriyuki Haga, Yamaha Motor Italia: “I tried so many different setting this weekend but I couldn’t find one for the race. Even in warm-up I was trying to get one that worked, so the race one result was good and I am very happy with it. On the last five laps the tyres was already finished and it was difficult to turn the bike. I had a plan to catch up and pass Chris anyway, but then it started raining. Race two we had the same tyre problem but it was more difficult because we made the full race distance. Always I want to win but we really cannot complain with two podium finishes this weekend.”
Andrew Pitt, Yamaha Motor Italia: “In the first race I could not carry any corner speed. I had to brake hard into corners and that just lost me all my corner speed. If I ran in too fast the bike just bounced off the track. Our usual advantage on the Yamaha is the ability to carry corner speed but when you can’t do that it limits the lap time. We used the same front tyre in race one that we had been using all weekend with no problems but it was destroyed in 12 laps. Maybe it had a lot to do with the fact that the temperature then was a lot lower in race one than it had been in qualifying.”
Norick Abe, Yamaha Motor France: “My first race at Lausitz was race one and my second was race two! We changed some parts between races and there was a lot less chatter at the beginning of race two. I felt good for that, but as the rear tyre grip came down the chatter returned so then I could not go faster. I made a good battle with Neukirchner, which I lost, because we were passing each other a lot, but it was still a fun race.”
Sebastien Gimbert, Yamaha Motor France: “Not such a good race for me. In the first race I had a problem that stopped the bike steering properly and in the second race I felt like I had no power and no grip from the rear. This is my first time in Lausitz and I do like the track, just not the results. Now I must focus on the important Bol d’or 24 hour race next weekend.”
Massimo Meregalli, Team Coordinator – Yamaha Motor Italia: “I think we have had a good race day, especially after practice, when we had some trouble finding a good set-up. We did a good job, - Nori on the podium both times and Andrew in sixth twice. So not too bad really, especially as Haga is now in third place overall and Andrew seventh.”
Martial Garcia, Team Manager - Yamaha Motor France: “Not so bad for Norick, just the last lap for Neukirchner catching him was a negative point. But the result is not so bad. For Gimbert we lost the first race because and air duct was broken and he could not turn. In the second race he took two points but it was not fantastic for him.”
SUPERBIKE Race 1: (Laps 20 = 85,300 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap 1 / VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 33'36.341 / 2 / HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'36.610 / 0.269 3 / CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 33'38.640 / 2.299 4 / TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 33'43.399 / 7.058 5 / KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 33'49.049 / 12.708 6 / PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 33'50.394 / 14.053 7 / NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 33'52.957 / 16.616 8 / LANZI / ITA / Ducati Xerox / 33'55.364 / 19.023 9 / ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 34'00.992 / 24.651 10 / BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 34'10.695 / 34.354 11 / MCCOY / AUS / Foggy Petronas Racing / 34'20.726 / 44.385 12 / BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 34'21.361 / 45.020 13 / CARDOSO / ESP / D.F.X. Treme / 34'28.152 / 51.811 14 / BRIGNOLA / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 34'28.284 / 51.943 15 / CRUCIANI / ITA / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 34'40.452 / 1'04.111 Fastest Lap 7° Noriyuki Haga 1'39.828 153,805 Km/h
Race 2 : (Laps 24 = 102,360 Km) Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time / 1 / LANZI / ITA / Ducati Xerox / 40'20.947 / 2 / VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 40'21.787 / 0.840 3 / HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 40'25.545 / 4.598 4 / KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 40'26.238 / 5.291 5 / MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 40'37.183 / 16.236 6 / PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 40'39.309 / 18.362 7 / NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 40'47.307 / 26.360 8 / ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 40'47.400 / 26.453 9 / MARTIN / AUS / Foggy Petronas Racing / 40'48.023 / 27.076 10 / CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 40'58.250 / 37.303 11 / TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 41'01.944 / 40.997 12 / BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 41'05.256 / 44.309 13 / CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 41'05.432 / 44.485 14 / GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 41'09.406 / 48.459 15 / BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 41'14.211 / 53.264 Fastest Lap 7° Noriyuki Haga 1'39.790 153,863 Km/h Lap Record: Ruben Xaus 1'39.679 154,030Km/h 2002
Championship Points: 1 Troy Corser 389, 2 Vermeulen 329, 3 Haga 239, 4 Toseland 215, 5 Laconi 214, 6 Yukio Kagayama 211, 7 Pitt 137, 8 Walker 130, 9 Chili 125, 10 Lanzi 118.