The challenges of Silverstone
At Monza, Vermeulen and Laconi put an end to the crushing supremacy of Troy Corser, relegating him to the bottom of the podium in the second race. The 5th round of the Mondial, Sunday at Silverstone, will see Suzuki again worried by Honda and Ducati ?
For the first time this year, and despite a superb double in the first round, the results of Team Corona Suzuki Alstare are mixed: after seven straight victories, the fall of Kagayama and the "disappointing" third place of Troy Corser have proved that the GSX-R was not unbeatable (read)…
But the Australian knows how to make a difference: on the eve of the tests at Silverstone, he recalls that "for us, it’s not about winning all the races, it’s the championship that counts". And at this level, business is well done since Troy already has 52 points ahead of his Japanese teammate and 67 over the third, his Australian compatriot Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda).
The Silverstone event, which has been on the World Superbike program for three seasons, innovates this year since it is the short version of the track that has been chosen. The heats will therefore take place on the 3651 m course, which offers increased technicality compared to the F1 configuration. The fast portion (Chapel – Hangar Straight – Stowe corner) is abandoned in favor of slower passages, requiring an irreproachable cycle part, while Monza especially favored torquey engines.
The Suzuki approach the English event with confidence because this type of layout suits them. However, Troy will have to break the spell that prevents him from shining across the Channel: he scored only 16 points on this circuit when Haga obtained 71! In addition, the Australian will have to sort out his brake problems which prevented him from fighting for first place in the second Italian race: "I had some problems with my front brakes from the start. They vibrated when I braked hard and they started to heat up abnormallyFortunately for him, the English climate will undoubtedly be more accommodating in this regard..
Yukio Kagayama is reassured by recalling that he is still second in the championship. In addition, he knows the Silverstone circuit very well, having practiced it in his previous seasons in British Superbike: "Silverstone is one of my favorite circuits". But will that be enough to contain the onslaught of his increasingly successful opponents? ?
Topping the list is the CBR1000RR, which is constantly evolving and catching up on the GSX-R1000K5: "we have completely adopted the pot that Arrow had developed for Monza", specifies the guru Ronald ten Kate, team manager,"we need to keep working on the balance and geometry of the CBR1000RR".
Chris Vermeulen, currently third in the championship and the only non-Suzuki to have won a race this year, particularly enjoys the English circuit. "Silverstone is a place where I have fond memories: I won the Supersport race there in 2003, then won my first Superbike victory last year. I remember the short version of the track, when I was competing in the British Superbike, but it will take a few laps to get back to my family".
For his team-mate Muggeridge, the choice of officials is a bit disappointing: "the two tracks (Monza and Silverstone, Editor’s note) were rather similar but they cut all the nice parts opposite the pits – the Hangar Straight and Stowe Corner – it’s a shame !"
On the Yamaha side, another Australian is leading the troops: Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia), fifth in the championship, hopes to close the gap between his R1 and the GSX-R and CBR: "we are gaining ground and improving with every ride". His good results at Monza (fifth and sixth) are mainly due to better tire choices:"we manage to make the front tire last now and that gives me confidence in my front axle throughout the race".
This improvement could benefit his teammate Noriyuki Haga. In GP500, Nitro Nori had mainly marked by his crashes, due to the loss of the front. The Japanese seem to be confronted with his old demons: riding the Yam 2-stroke YZR-500, he lacked feeling and confidence, which prevented him from completely letting go and exploiting all his talent … Even if the R1 seems to suit it a little better, it is nevertheless behind compared to its competitors. "We still don’t have the right front-to-back balance on the bike"complains the Japanese.
And in the meantime, the second Yamaha is none other than his compatriot Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France Ipone). The Japanese however suffers from the same syndrome as Nori: "I don’t have a good feeling with the front"Sebastien Gimbert, also at Yamaha France, will try to make him forget his lack of points last weekend.
At home, Ducati offered a breath of fresh air. But on the Silverstone circuit, known to be technical and requiring fine tuning, the twin cylinders could well fall back into the standings. Fortunately, the Italian firm will benefit from the experience of James Toseland, local of the stage, and of our national Regis Laconi, whose morale has soared after his 43 points in Italy. The two pilots will however have to carefully choose their rear tires: "maybe i worn out my tire too much to contain Corser in the early laps because the left sidewall was getting very unstable and kept slipping"explains Regis who narrowly missed out on victory in the second transalpine race. James, victim of the same problem in the first race, had already lost second place at the finish line…
Finally, Kawasaki will benefit from the full support of the British public since his darling, Chris Walker, has continued to raise his voice during this start of the season, even obtaining a superb podium in Valencia (read).
In Supersport, we still expect a superb duel Charpentier-Fujiwara (Winston Ten Kate Honda), the undisputed leaders of the championship: respectively 90 and 83 points out of 100! And even if neither of them has ever achieved a podium at Silverstone, it’s a safe bet that they will once again be at the forefront on the shortened track! Sebastien "General Lee" could on this occasion obtain his fifth pole position in a row, and above all increase his slight lead.
For his part, Fabien Forêt will be keen to erase his Italian misadventure and will try to catch up with Kevin Curtain, third in the championship with 60 points..
The weekend promises to be once again exciting because it is full of challenges !
Good first day for the Ducati Xerox which take the lead in the provisional classification. Regis Laconi turned this afternoon in 1’27”578, beating his British teammate James Toseland by just 5 hundredths! Follow Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama, on their GSX-R in 1’27”696 and 1’27”832. Chili, on his CBR1000R, is fifth in 1’28”145, ahead of Karl Muggeridge, also on Honda (1’28”189). The first Yamaha is that of Nitro Nori who completed the circuit in 1’28”240. Chris Vermeulen is in eighth position on CBR (1’28”310), followed by Ben Bostrom (still CBR). Chris Walker (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) is tenth but remains less than a second behind Regis (1’28”373). Note, the encouraging eleventh time of Garry McCoy on the Foggy Petronas. Sebastien Gimbert is 15th (1’28”731), his teammate Norick Abe 17th (1’28”986).
In Supersport, Sebastien Charpentier leads the proceedings (1’29”558) ahead of his teammate Fujiwara (1’29”911) and Kevin Curtain (R6 / 1’29”947). In fourth position, the wild card Cal Crutchlow (CBR) thrilled the public and turned in 1’30”326. Broc Parkes places his R6 15 hundredths behind the Briton, just ahead of Craig Jones (CBR / 1’30”517). Then, more than a second behind General Lee, are Michel Fabrizio on Honda and the two Ducati 749Rs by Alessio Corradi and Gianluca Nanelli (respectively 1’30”734 and 1’30”780). Fabien Foret is 10th in 1’30”882, Stephane Chambon 14th in 1’31”564.
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