The favorites prevail in Valencia
The Australian Troy Corser confirms his excellent start to the season by winning the two races of the third round of the Mondial Superbike, while in 600 the Charentais Sebastien Charpentier signs his second victory of the season !
After Phillip Island, Valence… Troy Corser (Alstare Corona Suzuki) once again had the perfect weekend: best practice times, superpole and two comfortable wins. This undivided domination over the last two events is not surprising after all…
First of all, the last two tracks visited are relatively similar: series of fast curves, heavy braking on the angle and omnipresent wind. Two tracks that favor pilots with a strong heart! These are also circuits that offer some of the most beautiful fights in the championship, as MotoGP also prove..
But Troy Corser has shown that he can be ahead on other tracks, such as his coronation in 1996 and his victory in Qatar in February. In short, the Australian is truly the man to beat this year.
The GSX-R 1000 K5 is undoubtedly the best bike on the grid at the start of the season. All six events were won by the Suzuki, which seems like a treat to drive unlike the more brutal Yamaha and Honda and difficult to tune Ducatis….
It is therefore not surprising to see the Australian dominate the category. And from the superpole event, he showed that he would be tough to beat. Because to start from the first place in Superbike is not an easy task: the two qualifying sessions give rise to a pre-grid defining the places from 17th to last. But for the sixteen best drivers, everything has to be redone! A bit like F1, their starting position depends on the time of a single running lap … Again Corser proved imperial, burying Vermeulen at half a second !
For Regis Laconi, the weekend was bad. He who had succeeded in hoisting his Ducati on the first row got out during the warm-up on Sunday morning. Shocked, the Moselle could not take the start and keeps his counter desperately blocked on 54 points. Let us hope for his French supporters, for Ducati and especially for himself that Regis recovers as quickly as possible !
First Superbike race
Troy Corser, who started from pole, escapes from the first few meters and will never be worried! Like a metronome, the Australian goes on laps and manages the race while behind, the fight rages on.
The prize for the most beautiful fall goes to the young Max Neukirchner (Kalffi Honda CBR1000RR), who gives us an impressive high-side, leading in spite of himself Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati 999 RS), who suffers from a broken collarbone.
Chris Walker (PSG1 Kawasaki Corse), the terror of the British Superbike, shows an aggressive and efficient style. Andrew Pitt (Winston Ten Kate Honda), after having started very well, was successively dropped off by his team-mate Chris Vermeulen, Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France Ipone) and Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB). Undoubtedly disconcerted by these overtaking, Pitt made a mistake. Vermeulen manages to separate from the peloton and likes to slip from behind at each of his passages in the parabolic. He finished second in this first race.
After an average start, Kagayama (Alstare Corona Suzuki) moved up his competitors one by one to third place. His compatriot Haga offered a very good fight against Walker in the last laps and managed to contain him until the checkered flag. Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France Ipone) finished sixth at 26 seconds behind the first while his team-mate Norick Abe lost the lead on the last lap…
On the GMT side, David Checa’s first race serves as a full-scale test. Without having been able to carry out a race simulation, the finding is clear: "David was totally in the race, the bike was slipping, the set-up was wrong", confesses his team manager Christophe Guyot. Fortunately for them, the Superbike has two races per weekend. The Spanish rider was therefore able to make up for it by fine-tuning the settings (read below).
Corser shows a very clean style and uses, like Rossi, the full width of the track. He even goes so far as to pass behind certain vibrators, which earned him a little evasion of the rear wheel without consequence. Question slips, Troy knows there. On the last lap, he allows himself to lose a few tenths in order to better smoke his tire when exiting a corner. The engineers of Pirelli – which holds the monopoly on Superbike and Supersport races – will have to look at the tires of his comrades to study the wear in the race !
Cock-a-doodle Doo ! On a track with uncertain grip and swept by a strong wind, the Charentais Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda) was able to ward off the attacks of his team-mate Fujiwara and won for the second time this season. Okay, it’s not MotoGP. But the level remains nonetheless high and we will not shy away from a possible French victory in the world championship. !
After a good start, Sebastien is pushing hard by trying to use the Corser method. Michel Fabrizio (Italia Megabike Honda) is second ahead of Fabien Foret (Team Megabike Honda), Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany) and Chambon 5Gil Motor Sport). Fujiwara meanwhile is in the middle of the group but literally melts on the lead. In two turns, he gets rid of Curtain and Fabrizio before chasing the Honda # 16: Charpentier.
Chambon stuck and was finally passed by Parkes (Yamaha Motor Germany), Veneman (Suzuki Netherland) and Nanelli, the only Ducati to finish the race. Fabrizio and Curtain engage in a good battle without overtaking each other. Curtain’s R6 is on fire: the flames escaping from the pot protrude about ten centimeters !
Eight laps from the end, Fujiwara is in Charpentier’s wheel, attempts an attack but does not pass. The final is masterful: Charpentier, better on the second part of the circuit, takes great care to close all the doors. In the last lap, he comes out a little too wide and Fuji takes the opportunity to rise to his height! On re-acceleration, the men are neck and neck … or rather leather handlebars: the French combi brushes against the Japanese handlebars! Fujiwara avoids the guidance but sees his opponent flee, for our greatest happiness! Sebastien passes the checkered flag eight tenths ahead. Sensational !
Curtain finished on the third step of the podium ahead of Michel Fabrizio, Fabien Foret, Parkes, Veneman, Nanelli and Chambon (9th). In the championship, Charpentier consolidates his lead over Fujiwara with 70 points against 58 for the Japanese. The Australian Curtain sur Yam is third with 49 points, followed by the second Frenchman Fabien Foret (38 pts), Fabrizio and Parkes (both 29 pts) and the third "frenchie": Stephane Chambon with 24 points.
Honda is thus far ahead with 75 points and leads the constructor championship ahead of Yamaha (49), Ducati (26), Suzuki (23) and Kawa (6).
Second Superbike race
Return with the 1000 cc on a track which has further increased in temperature and a more irregular wind depending on the sections of the circuit. The tires may wear out faster than in the first round, to the advantage of the virtuosos of the gliding !
Andrew Pitt took the first corner in the lead and held onto first place for one lap, before being inexorably devoured by the decidedly unbeatable Troy Corser: "I was a little surprised to see Andrew Pitt pass me and lead on the first lap. I wanted to pass him as quickly as possible in order to make my race, so I passed him in the second lap !"In the space of a few meters, he widens the gap and resumes his cruising speed, watching his signage, far from the tumult of the peloton.
Walker, who started fourth, passes Abe while Vermeulen steals second place from Andrew Pitt. This one is caught by Walker, more unleashed than ever. The Briton, whose driving was aggressive in the first round, became almost messy and struggled to overtake Pitt. The Australian with a much more cast style closed the doors to him for a few laps but finally had to let go for lack of sufficient grip. Victim of an electrical problem, he fails in eighth place while Walker gives Kawasaki his first podium !
On the GMT side, David Checa’s second race has everything to satisfy Christophe Guyot: "David felt much more at ease on the Yamaha and was able to show off his talent by fighting against opponents like Kagayama or Andrew Pitt.", rejoices the team manager. See you in Brno on July 17 for the continuation of the adventure of the team val-de-marnais !
Haga and Abe finished 4th and 5th respectively after a fierce struggle. Nice fight also for 6th place between Californian Ben Bostrom (Renegade Koji Honda) and Yukio Kagayama, who finished for the first time of the season outside the podium….
In the championship, Troy Corser has 141 points out of 150! He is ahead of his team-mate Kagayama (110 points) while Vermeulen (90 pts) passes in front of Laconi who remained at 54 pts. In fifth position is Norick Abe with 44 pts, followed by Neukirchner (41), "Nitro" Nori Haga (40), Pitt (39), Walker (38) and Toseland, the reigning world champion (30). Sebastien Gimbert is 11th with 26 points.
If the gaps are important, we must not forget that the Superbike gives rise to two distribution of points per weekend: the points system being exactly the same as in MotoGP, the rider who achieves the double thus pockets 50 points at the instead of 25, which still leaves hope for Corser’s opponents !
Suzuki leads the dance with 150 points and increases its lead over Honda (93) who is progressing. Yamaha and Ducati are fighting for third place with 65 and 64 points respectively and Kawasaki takes advantage of Walker’s good form (50 points). However, the start of the season was particularly difficult for Petronas (team of the "King" Carl Fogarty) who did not take off from the only point scored during the first race of the first race….
Next meeting on May 8 on Ducati lands in Monza !
Matthieu BRETILLE – Photos DR and Site
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