WSBK – Corser Superbike World Champion! –

Corser Superbike World Champion !

WSBK - Corser Superbike World Champion! -

The penultimate round of the World Superbike took place on the superb Imola track. But the rain played tricks on the pilots and the organizers, causing many complications and the coronation – deserved – of Troy Corser !

Contrary to expectations, the third Italian stage did not take place under very lenient skies. The circuit of Imola, winding and hilly at will, has seen its difficulty increased by climatic instability…

In Superbike, on the first day, Troy Corser (Suzuki Alstare) and Chris Vermeulen (Honda Ten Kate) dominated the practice by turning almost a second faster than their rivals. The next day, Corser stands out and puts a second in sight of Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare) 2nd and Vermeulen 3rd, while Laconi (Ducati Xerox) is in 5th position…

But it is ultimately Chris Vermeulen who is the fastest, completing the superpole lap in 1’48.075, almost 0.3 seconds better than the previous record set by Colin Edwards in 2002. Almost half a second is find our National Regis which is ahead of Troy Corser and James Toseland (Ducati Xerox).

In the second row, Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati SC Caracchi) confirms his good form at the moment (read). He finished ahead of Nori Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia), Yukio Kagayama and Ben Bostrom (Honda Renegade Koji). The third row consists of the three Australians Andrew Pitt (Yam Motor Italia), Karl Muggeridge (Honda Ten Kate) and Steve Martin (Petronas FP1) and the young Max Neukirchner (Honda Klaffi). On the fourth row we find Norick Abe (Yam Motor France) ahead of Pierfrancesco Chili (Honda Klaffi), Sebastien Gimbert (Yam Motor France) and Chris Walker (Kawasaki PSG-1).

Supersport side, the disappointment is great in the Ten Kate stand since the two drivers Sebastien Charpentier and Katsuaki Fujiwara were injured during practice. General Seb had however signed his tenth pole of the season thanks to a canonical time in the first qualifying session … Unfortunately, the new 2005 world champion (read) had to fall in Acque Minerale from the start of the free practice session on Saturday morning. With the title already in his pocket and the last event taking place at Magny-Cours the following week, Sebastien preferred not to run and consult his doctor in Paris, in order to recover as well as possible from his left clavicle injury….

As a result, the starting grid shifted, it was Fabien Foret (Honda Megabike) who started from first place ahead of Gianluca Nannelli (Ducati SC Caracchi), Broke Parkes (Yamaha Motor Germany) and Stephane Chambon (Honda Gil Motor Sport) ).

Robbin Harms (Honda Stiggy Motorsports) inherits the lead from the second row ahead of Javi Fores (Suzuki Alstare), Alessio Corradi (Ducati Selmat) and Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany). The third row is made up of Michel Fabrizio (Honda Megabike), Johan Stigefelt (Honda Stiggy Motorsports), Cannepa (Wild Card) and Mathieu Lagrive (Suzuki).

First Superbike race

The track is still wet from the morning rain and the clouds remain threatening. The choice of tires is tricky … Vermeulen opted for two intermediate tires while Corser mounted a slick at the front and an intermediate at the rear. Which one will be right ?

Corser took the best start ahead of Vermeulen, Kagayama, Toseland and Pitt. The latter is quickly passed by the British and his Ducati which drives at home. Behind them, Haga and Muggeridge take turns passing each other. Abe is 8th ahead of Neukirchner and Laconi, who is not in the rhythm !

Vermeulen took the lead on the first lap. He and Corser are quick to take several steps ahead of their pursuers … The title is played between these two men and Vermeulen knows that he must stay ahead at all costs to keep a small chance (Corser has 60 points of ‘advance while 100 points remain to be played).

On the second pass, Muggeridge hits his CBR like crazy! … and is forced to give up. Meanwhile, his teammate Chris Vermeulen tries to get away with it, Corser chasing him. The battle for third place is moderated by Toseland, Kagayama and Pitt as Haga climbs back up to them and drags Walker and his ZX-10R with him..

In the Bassa variant, Nitro Nori passes Pitt and gets into Kagayama’s aspi. Then Walker and Pitt compete for 6th position, while Vermeulen and Corser are already beyond the reach of their competitors. Decidedly very comfortable in the last section, Haga passed Toseland and tried to get back on top of the leading duo. Andrew Pitt imitates his teammate and passes Toseland … but gets a big heat on acceleration and loses his advantage over James. The latter even manages to pass in front of Haga! The grip is uncertain … and the spectacle all the more beautiful !

In the 5th lap, Kagayama loses the front in the Bassa variant but can leave a few moments later. Chris Walker, put under pressure by Norick Abe, goes off track in Acque Minerale and leaves the field open to the Japanese. But the latter did not take advantage of this error for long since he disappeared from the standings the following round! "I just found myself slightly off course and fell straight!"will explain the unlucky one…

Vermeulen and Corser keep increasing the pace thanks to the sun heating between the clouds. The difference in tire fitting is not obvious! Toseland, Haga and Pitt watch each other and covet the podium. On the 7th lap, Corser narrowly avoided a high side and immediately glued back to Vermeulen and took the lead on the next lap! Walker is alone in 6th position, Laconi is 7th and Gimbert 9th.

Halfway through the race, Toseland and Haga recovered a lot and took 1.5 seconds from the leaders in the last two laps. With 10 laps to go, are Corser and Vermeulen really safe? Chris Vermeulen goes twice to pass Troy Corser – in Rivazza -. But the fastest in the race remains James Toseland, closely followed by Nori Haga … 0.9 s faster than Vermeulen! The Japanese, who does not want to get out of the dry path, is biding his time or a fault from the British…

In the 14th lap, Andrew Pitt came back up in the points! Corser is slightly behind and is 0.3 s behind Vermeulen, Toseland is only 4.4 seconds and the final promises to be disputed … But the Briton commits a fault in the double right of Acque Minerale and leave the podium to Haga, left in ambush.

With five laps remaining, Corser is under the pot of CBR Ten Kate. Vermeulen impresses with a riding style while gliding! The young Australian, who did not yet know that he was going to participate in his national MotoGP GP as a Bayliss replacement, wants to prove to Honda officials that he has the ability to make sparks on the handlebars of an RCV! But it is time for a fight because it is imperative for him to win this race !

Two laps from the checkered flag, Corser did not give up, but did not seem able to overtake his young compatriot. In the last lap, the "old" crocodile is still in Chris’ wheel. The CBR and the GSX-R move as much as the other. And despite a last attempt in the last chicane, Corser remains behind Vermeulen !

As the young Australian confided at the start of the weekend: "I can hardly win the championship anymore but Troy (Corser) can still lose it !". To keep his tiny chance, Chris must score 55 more points than his compatriot … The victory in the second round is therefore mandatory !

Laconi finished in a disappointing 9th place, still suffering from his right shoulder "At the end, I had needles going through the left part of my body by dint of piloting with one arm and two legs !"Regis explained. On the contrary, Sebastien Gimbert achieved one of his best races, finishing 8th and is eager to set off again, even in the rain. !

Finally, something rare enough to underline it: there are six different brands in the first six places !

First Superbike race result:

  1. Vermeulen C. – Honda CBR 1000RR – 39’35.789

  2. Corser T. – Suzuki GSXR1000 K5 – 39’36.086

  3. Haga N. – Yamaha YZF R1 – 39’44.102

  4. Toseland J. – Ducati 999F05 – 39’51.128

  5. Martin S. – Petronas FP1 – 40’25.427

  6. Walker C. – Kawasaki ZX10 – 40’25.861

  7. Neukirchner M. – Honda CBR 1000RR – 40’27.964

  8. Gimbert S. – Yamaha YZF R1 – 40’28.170

  9. Laconi R. – Ducati 999F05 – 40’33.623

  10. Vizziello G. – Yamaha YZF R1 – 40’41.516

  11. Bussei G. – Kawasaki ZX10 – 40’44.121

  12. Sanchini M. – Kawasaki ZX10 – 40’46.078

  13. Bostrom B. – Honda CBR 1000RR – 40’46.575

  14. Borciani M. – Ducati 999RS – 41’03.694

  15. Kagayama Y. – Suzuki GSXR1000 K5 – 41’09.229

Supersport Race

The 600 cc set off under a cloudy sky … The best start is for Stephane Chambon, ahead of Parkes, Harms, Fabrizio, Fores, Curtain, Nannelli, Corradi, Foret, Stigefelt and Lagrive! Julien Enjolras is 21st.

On the first lap, Parkes took the lead and Fabrizio took 3rd place, while Fores had a good start, braking, touching Harms’ rear tire and going off the track. Then in the chicane Bassa, Chambon is overtaken by Fabrizio … French is apparently not in the rhythm.

At the end of the second lap, Parkes leads ahead of Fabrizio, Harms, Curtain, Chambon, Nannelli, Corradi and Foret. The first four separate from Chambon and Nannelli, who themselves have widened a slight gap on Corradi and Foret. Fabien Foret decides to increase the pace and successively overtakes Corradi and Chambon. Mathieu Lagrive is 13th, Julien Enjolras 21st and Javi Fores, started again, is 24th.

In the fourth lap, Parkes and Fabrizio isolated themselves in the lead while Harms and Curtain were caught by Nannelli. A few pitches away are Foret, Corradi and Chambon. In the last chicane, Fabrizio brakes Parkes and takes the lead. But his attack penalized the reacceleration of the two friends and Harms and Curtain reattach !

Parkes takes his lead in Bassa, exactly as Fabrizio did the tour before! Then it’s Harms’ turn to walk past the young Italian. The fight benefits not only Parkes who takes three lengths in advance but also Nannelli who remakes his delay. Then Harms takes Rivazza too wide and loses its second position before recovering it in Bassa.

The 7th lap was particularly hectic with some fine overtaking between Curtain and Nannelli. But from the next lap, raindrops appear … Parkes is alone in the lead ahead of Fabrizio, Harms, Curtain, Foret, Nannelli. Corradi is 1 second from the second group and Chambon 3 seconds later.

Harms is then passed by Curtain then by Foret … Fabien does not stop there and double Curtain for the podium! The Australian reacted quickly by passing Fabien again, but the faster Frenchman doubled it from the next turn. In front, Fabrizio takes the lead. The two fights bring together the four pilots !

In the twelfth lap, Chambon fell. At the same time, Fabrizio points his finger to the sky and loses the lead of the race! Then it’s Harms’ turn to fall, victim of a violent high side in Tosa. On the other hand, Parkes did not seem to be bothered by the timid but treacherous arrival of the rain and took the lead in front of Curtain, Fabrizio and Foret. The French overtake his Italian teammate in the last chicane.

On the 13th lap, Parkes raised his hand, wishing the marshals to interrupt the race … But no flag was waved. Curtain, a few bends farther on, narrowly avoids a high side while Nannelli, apparently at ease in these delicate conditions, returns to Fabrizio and makes short work of it. In two turns, in the last part of the circuit, Parkes goes from 1st to 4th place, not preferring to attack on this very slippery road..

In the 14th round, in Tamburello, Fabien Foret then in the lead fell on reacceleration. It’s too much, the race is interrupted !

It is the starting order of the 13th lap that will establish the starting grid for the second half of the race, the times also having to be taken into account contrary to the MotoGP regulations..

Parkes is therefore 1st, followed by Curtain at 0.89 s, Foret at 1.19 s, Fabrizio at 1.28 s, Nannelli at 1.75 s, Corradi at 2.95 s, Stigefelt at 13.43 s, Lauslehto at 23.12 s, Lagrive at 24.03 s, etc.

But the rain, which redoubles in intensity, risks completely redistributing the cards, and Parkes’ meager lead will not allow him to ensure !

Second start. Parkes and Fabrizio take command. From Tamburello, Javi Fores takes the same fall as Foret before the interruption, with the difference that his Suzuki continues on its own! Corradi took the opportunity to move to 2nd position. In Tosa, Nannelli shows his true nature: he passes Fabrizio on the outside and then goes inside to Corradi! A real festival that delights Italians. The Ducati – with pure performance inferior to that of the Japanese – seems easier to manage in these difficult conditions.

Before the end of the first lap, Nannelli took the lead and started to widen the gap. He has to beat Parkes by 1.75 seconds if he wants to win! On the track, it leads in front of Parkes, Fabrizio, Curtain, Corradi, Foret, Stigefelt, Lauslehto, Antonello…

Nannelli literally flies away in the following laps! Corradi confirmed the advantage of the Ducatis on a wet track by quickly taking second place. The Italian public, despite the rain, is in seventh heaven! The second surprise of this "second round" is the Kawasaki ZX-6R, which benefits from Antonello’s experience on the Italian track. The transalpine is heading for Fabrizio, who has just overtaken Parkes. Three Italians are in the lead, but in corrected times, Nannelli leads ahead of Parkes and Curtain…

Four laps from the end, Antonello passed Fabrizio and climbed back onto the R6 de Curtain. Just before the straight line, on acceleration, the two Italians are in the "synchronized high side" but both save their skins. For his part, Curtain is focused on staying in Corradi’s wake to secure a 2nd place.

Fabien Foret, who fell on his left leg – operated on last season – is struggling to change gears and is now fighting for tenth place … In corrected times, his main opponents are Lagrive and Enjolras! His teammate Fabrizio is also struggling with his front tire and cannot keep up with the Ducati and Yam.

Two laps before the checkered flag, Antonello got back into Curtain’s wheel. Nannelli slows his pace and turns around on an empty track. In the last lap Curtain appeared to be able to pass Corradi but despite several attacks the Australian crossed the line behind. In front of them, Nannelli celebrates his victory with a superb wheeling !

The podium is therefore made up of the first three drivers on the track but in a different order. Nannelli thus wins ahead of Curtain and Corradi. Fabrizio is 4th ahead of Parkes and a very comfortable Antonello in the rain. Mathieu Lagrive finished 10th, ahead of Fabien Foret and Julien Enjolras !

In the championship, Sebastien Charpentier remains glued to his 210 points from Assen. Curtain separates himself from Fujiwara: 167 pts against 140 and ensures his place of vice-world champion. Fabien Foret (131 pts) climbs slowly on the Japanese but is threatened by Fabrizio (122 pts). Parkes is 6th with 100 pts, ahead of Chambon (86 pts), Nannelli (81 pts), Fores (81 pts) and Lauslehto (56 pts). Mathieu Lagrive climbs to 15th place, Julien Enjolras is 33rd.

In the constructors’ championship, the game is also over as Honda leads with 254 pts ahead of Yamaha (167 pts), Ducati (110 pts), Suzuki (79 pts) and Kawa (35 pts). However, it should be noted that Honda, which had won in the first nine races, has seen its competitors making life more difficult for two races..

Supersport race result:

  1. Nannelli G. – Ducati 749 R – 42’55.695

  2. Curtain K. – Yamaha YZF R6 – 42’58.147

  3. Corradi A. – Ducati 749 R – 42’59.896

  4. Fabrizio M. – Honda CBR 600RR – 43’03.660

  5. Parkes B. – Yamaha YZF R6 – 43’06.201

  6. Antonello A. – Kawasaki ZX 6RR – 43’25.520

  7. Your A. – Honda CBR 600RR – 43’37.459

  8. Stigefelt J. – Honda CBR 600RR – 43’42.969

  9. Mariottini C. – Honda CBR 600RR – 43’44.191

  10. Lagrive M. – Suzuki GSX 600R – 43’58.763

  11. Drill F. – Honda CBR 600RR – 44’10.662

  12. Enjolras J. – Yamaha YZF R6 – 44’11.553

  13. Miksovsky T. – Honda CBR 600RR – 44’11.599

  14. Penna S. – Honda CBR 600RR – 44’17.373

  15. Canepa N. – Kawasaki ZX 6RR – 44’21.458

Second Superbike race

The rain has not stopped falling since the interruption of the Supersport race and is even tending to increase! A few minutes before the launching procedure of the second Superbike round, it is a real deluge that falls on Imola…

After half an hour, Troy Corser, Regis Laconi and Chris Vermeulen are invited to inspect the condition of the track. And a ride in the cars of the organizers is enough !

"Chris, Troy and I both agreed that running in these conditions would have been too dangerous.", comments Regis before adding:"I’m sorry, but we can’t risk our lives and everyone’s safety here. I’m sorry for the fans but we were unlucky to have such a bad weather ".

Vermeulen – who sees his ultimate hope of getting back to Troy in the championship soar – wants to be a philosopher: "To be honest, I’m not too disappointed with the championship. It’s a long-distance race and even if I had managed to regain a few points from Troy in the second heat, he would still have arrived at Magny-Cours with a big lead. All I could do was win races and that’s what I’ve been doing lately"Despite the importance of this second round, Chris preferred to play it safe:"Some parts of the circuit were very dangerous, such as leaving the chicane Alta where the track sinks and was filled with water " !

Troy Corser is also somewhat disappointed, when he wanted to "win the championship on the track"… Safety comes first, the Australian therefore celebrated his coronation in the pits, with his family and his team. The opportunity for the Australian to thank his entire team all the better:"The foundations of our success were laid in the first trials last year. Since then, the whole team has worked hard, gave me a great bike and the results followed".

In the championship, Corser therefore leads by more than 50 points ahead of Vermeulen and thus obtains his second world title, after that of 1996 with Ducati. Vermeulen is also sure to finish runner-up and surely expects a reward from Honda … like a MotoGP handlebars for example? Nori Haga continues his superb end of the season (255 pts) unlike the ducatists Toseland and Laconi who total 228 and 221 pts respectively. Kagayama remains in ambush with his 212 pts while Walker (140 pts) recovers his 7th place, ahead of Pitt (137 pts). Sebastien Gimbert is getting closer to the 15th position occupied by Ben Bostrom: he is only 4 points !

On the manufacturer side, Suzuki (428 pts) was already assured of the title ahead of Honda (370 pts), Ducati (344 pts), Yamaha (296 pts) Kawasaki (163 pts) and Petronas (48 pts).

See you this weekend for a final in apotheosis … Since the tensions of the title races are absent in both categories, the drivers will be able to let go on French soil !

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