Back to Brno
While the Continental Circus has returned to the Americas, the Mondial Superbike will stop for the third time in twelve years on the superb Czech track: the Brno Autodrome. A hilly circuit that offers a superb playground !
It was in 1930 that the small town of Brno hosted a Grand Prix (automobile) for the first time. The 30 km of track, traversing the surrounding countryside are reduced to 17 km from the post-war period, but it was not until 1986 that the current track came into operation, with the aim of hosting the world championship of Formula 1.
Failing to achieve this goal, the circuit has organized since 1987 the Czechoslovak – then Czech – motorcycle Grand Prix event. Curiously, the World Superbike only stopped there twice, in 1993 and 1996, yet giving rise to some great battles between "King Carl" Fogarty, Aaron Slight, Scott Russel and a certain … Troy Corser !
Apart from the Australian, only Pierfrancesco Chili (Klaffi Honda) has already ridden on this circuit on the handlebars of a Superbike. Other riders, from MotoGP, have a good knowledge of the place and could do well. Regis Laconi (Xerox Ducati) for example, who has three victories in the last four races, is one of these "lucky" and could nibble a little more the lead that Corser has in the general classification !
A racy route
This 5.4 km long track is the longest visited by runners this year. Like the Mugello or Montmeló, the Brno circuit is located on the hillside. And if the vertical drop is not as pronounced as in Laguna Seca, the climb between the two long chicanes – at the end of the route – offers a big challenge to the engines. !
In addition to its relief, the layout is characterized by fast turns which favor pilots with cast and precise styles. The wide track allows for improvisation during fights and the grip, satisfactory, does not wear the tires excessively. Moreover, Pirelli, the only manufacturer in competition, will offer tires 200 mm wide as in Misano. These are likely to be unanimous among the pilots, conferring certain advantages in stability and traction on the angle. Cornering speed is increased by the fact that the turns are banked and allow the riders to let go.
To sum up, the Brno autodrome is a wide, fast and well-designed circuit: ideal for grazing between crazy Superbike. !
"The last time I did the double…"
Troy Corser (Suzuki Alstare) is the last winner in the Superbike category on the Brno track. It was in 1996, and he flew away for his first (and only for the moment) world coronation.
"I’m not sure how much the circuit has changed, but a couple of teams have tested there recently and their times weren’t significantly better than mine nine years ago, so there may have been some changes", thinks the Australian. But even if Troy has to relearn a few passages, it is a track that he appreciates and we can count on the leader in the championship to continue his uninterrupted series of podiums since the start of the season.
The second Superbike veteran, Pierfrancesco Chili, raced in 1996 in a private Ducati 916 which allowed him to finish in 8th and then 11th position. The Italian, who is still not on the podium in 2005, will he be able to reverse the trend ?
Regis Laconi, third in the championship and particularly fit lately (read), will try to take advantage of his seven trips to Brno and the mid-season tests carried out on the same circuit in June..
We remember in particular that Regis managed to get a nice 7th place in 1997 on his private Honda 500. Despite the cool temperature during testing last June, the French already has "good settings for the race, although we must not forget that the conditions will be different when we come back".
Teammate of Regis on a Yamaha 500 in 2001 and pilot on Aprilia RS Cube in 2003, Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) has never shone on the Czech circuit (no better than 11th and 13th). He relies more on his two days of testing in June (120 km) to look for good results this weekend: "we worked on the chassis settings and found a racing setup. That’s all we did during these tests – work on the race setup without using qualifying tires – so I’m confident".
No more question of seeing Nitro Nori from the sixth row to move up to sixth place, even if the spectacle was there (read): the Japanese want to fight for the victory !
His teammate Andrew Pitt has taken part in two MotoGP races with Team Kawasaki (in 2003 and 2004). As for Nori, his two 16th place does not make him the specialist of this track. On the other hand, his 160 km covered during the two days of testing allowed him to gather valuable information on his R1, so that he will be able to devote the test sessions on Friday "to improve our settings rather than just finding something that works roughly, like at Misano or Silverstone".
Also on Yamaha R1, Norick Abe has competed in ten races in Brno, finishing several times in the top 5. For once, Norifumi will not have to learn a new track in a few hours and will concentrate on his settings. The return to a track that matches his finesse driving style should make him forget his only point scored at Misano, "one of the worst weekends of my career".
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France) also knows the track, having taken part in two 500 cc and one 250 cc races. He never scored any points, but "it’s a track I love to ride on, even though I’ve never finished on the podium here. Maybe it’s one thing I could change this weekend !"The French is back to block, but his enthusiastic speeches will they be enough ?
McCoy secured a third place at the 2000 Czech GP, the year of his GP500 heyday. But the Australian will probably have more trouble sliding (literally and figuratively) his Petronas FG1 on the podium … Fonsi Nieto also had good results in 250 cc, but his Ducati 999 RS will be more delicate to handle on this very fast track.
"According to others…"
Finally, there are those who have never raced on the Brno circuit and get an idea of what to expect by questioning their colleagues. Unless Brno was selected by their team at the start of the season as one of the two authorized practice circuits…
This is the case of Team Ducati Xerox: James Toseland therefore took advantage of four days of racing on the Czech track, allowing him to make serious scouting on a track which "resembles Mugello with long, fast and sunken turns. I’m pretty happy with how it passed the test and the bike is doing well".
Unlike Yamaha and Ducati, Honda did not carry out tests in Brno. Team Ten Kate in particular arrives this weekend without any historical data. But that does not worry the team manager Ronald Ten Kate, who hopes to repeat "last year’s performance at Laguna Seca. Chris [Vermeulen, NDLR] had never seen the circuit before and he did the double, so we know from experience that nothing is impossible !"Stronger than Rossi, young Vermeulen? Impressive anyway !
For his part, Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare) is looking for a new lease of life. After an excellent start to the season, the Japanese experienced "three disappointing events"and now experience the"need to be on the podium". The Japanese, who wants to move forward -"I think once the layout is learned my style should match"-, focuses on two objectives: the podiums of the two rounds !
Finally, on the Supersport side, Sebastien Charpentier will take advantage of the absence of his teammate Fujiwara to consolidate his leadership position. Katsuaki indeed crashed heavily during testing on CBR 1000 RR for the Suzuka 8 Hours, which he will compete alongside Chris Vermeulen. "I am very disappointed to miss Brno, especially as I am second in the championship behind my teammate Sebastien … I wanted to close the gap, but it seems that I will have to wait for Brand HatchFor this weekend, Katsuaki will be replaced by Briton Craig Jones, who made an excellent start to the race at Silverstone as a wildcard (read).
Suddenly Sebastien breathes a little, although he cannot relax completely. This weekend, he could win a third victory in a row, the fifth in seven races … But the competition is on the verge of war !
Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany) has shown great form since the start of the season and could well push General Lee to his limits. The Australian’s team took advantage of the three-week break to participate in an event of the Italian Supersport championship taking place in Misano, a race finally won by his teammate Broc Parkes.
Fabien Foret (Honda Team Megabike), the only driver to have worried Charpentier during the San Marino event, will also be present, ready to take advantage of Seb’s first drop in speed….
The weekend promises to be once again interesting, especially as David Checa will play both rounds of Superbike with GMT 94 of Christophe Guyot, recent organizer of the French Open final in Albi (read).
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