Andy Rixon, Kel Edge
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Bayliss (21) and Haga (41) traded the lead and the wins both races at Brands Hatch.
Exciting SBK Fast Dates Calendar Shoot Weekend
Bayliss Takes an Early Stand at Brands - Its Troy Versus Troy
Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) scored fifth best time, making him the best Honda rider on display on day one. The Aussie, back to full fitness, headed the fastest local rider on day one - SBK regular in the PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse squad - Chris Walker. Proof that a strong performance at Brands is as much about track knowledge and rider skill as machinery, Ruben Xaus (Berik Sterilgarda Ducati) went seventh fastest, on a privateer Ducati.
After scooping Superpole at Silverstone, British wild card rider Tommy Hill showed his prowess at the full Brands Hatch circuit, finishing day one in eighth place in the rankings. After his most successful SBK race weekend in his two-year SBK career, double Brno race winner Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) slotted home ninth, with the top ten rounded out by Bayliss' team-mate, Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox).
James Toseland (Winston Ten Kate Honda) was disappointed to finish his first day at Brands Hatch just outside the top ten positions, after suffering braking problems with his machine. His old Ducati team-mate, Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) was 12th, despite a highside crash in the unofficial morning session, while double Brno podium sensation Michel Fabrizio (DFX Treme Honda) scoring the last place in the top 13.
Despite some threatening clouds surrounding the Brands Hatch circuit all day, Friday stayed dry throughout, but should conditions deteriorate for the final regulation qualifying session on Saturday morning, the current top 16 will be the ones who go forward to Saturday afternoon's Superpole contest, which is the final determiner of the first four rows of the grid. Rounding out the top 16 on day one are Fonsi Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse), Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France) and Alex Barros (Klaffi Honda). Barros, unlike most of his peer group, was sampling Brands Hatch for the first time. New rider Kurtis Roberts (Pedercini Ducati) set an early qualifying time on his SBK weekend, and his first at Brands Hatch, some 4.7 seconds behind Bayliss. He had missed the first untimed session for administrative reasons.
At the end of Practice on Friday afternoon, FastDates.com Calendar publisher Jim Gianatsis had all the top factory and privateer teamswith their bikes join him on Pit Lane for the annual photo shoot of the official SBK Fast Dates racebike Swimsuit Pinup Calendar for 2008. The teams were also given copies of the just released 2007 Fast Dates Calendar which was photographed there at Brands Hatch the year before. This year's shoot almost never got to take place as this year's new models initially refused to pose in the provided bikinis in front of the assembled audience of team mechanics and media who alway look forward to the annual Fast Dates Calendar Shoot as an exciting break to the tedium of turning wrenches in the pit garages all season long.
Troy Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) had set a new track best earlier in the day, but could only finish fifth overall in Superpole, earning a second row start on his GSX-R. The 1996 and 2005 World Champion has been fast all weekend, and is heavily tipped to feature in the leading groups in Sunday's races. Another 2006 season race winner, Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia) continued his good form with sixth fastest time in Superpole. Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) pushed himself to the top Kawasaki spot, with his team-mate Chris Walker just one place behind at his local circuit.
Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) could not hide his disappointment at finishing Superpole in only ninth place, despite just beating his previous best qualifying time. He nonetheless fended off the Silverstone Superpole winner, Tommy Hill (Virgin Mobile Yamaha) who took a still impressive top ten in his second wild card ride of the year. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) and Fonsi Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse - who is not a fan of the Brands layout) rounded out the third row.
Multiple-SBK race winner Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Berik Ducati) starts the SBK races from the first spot on row four, ahead of Brno sensation Michel Fabrizio (DFX Treme Honda), series regular Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France Ipone) and former Brands Hatch race winner, Pierfrancesco Chili (DFX Treme Honda).
Despite his instant admiration for the classic Brands Hatch circuit on his first visit, Alex Barros (Klaffi Honda) could not get his suspension sorted enough in practice to make Superpole, mistiming his final run for a qualifying time by just enough to stop him posting one final fast lap. He ended up 18th, one place behind Steve Martin (Petronas FP-1) with Martin experiencing machinery issues that hampered his attempts at qualifying. Kurtis Roberts (Pedercini Ducati) crashed today, at Dingle Dell, and ended up 27th and last in qualifying for his first SBK race in Pedercini colours.
World Supersport Qualifying
The 999F06 machines of Australian Troy Bayliss and Italian Lorenzo Lanzi, along with the riders TM leathers and helmets, feature graphic imagery based on the Warner Bros.TM blockbuster feature film. The riders TM helmets have been produced by Suomy, an official Superman Returns licensee producing motorcycle gear, apparel and accessories.
The bikes retain their regular Xerox livery, but are now highlighted with a flying â€˜Man of Steelâ€TM graphic on the underbody fairing. Grey Superman shields are also present on the fuel tank, the front mudguard and on the side deflectors.
Troy gets interviewed on the grid under his wife Kim's umbrella, as caped crusaders and FastDates.com Calendar Kitten Katie Puch and team director Paolo Ciabatti stand guard.
The Superman Returns-based colour scheme will appear on the machines and riders on Sunday at Brands Hatch, during the morning World Superbike warm-up and the two races, scheduled for 1200 and 1530. Joining Troy at his Pole Position on the starting grid for both races on Sunday was FastDates.com Calendar Kitten Katie Pugh in her role as the Caped Crusader - Supergirl, together with caped Ducati Corse team director Paolo Ciabatti.
Bayliss leads Haga, Toseland and Corser around the 115,000 spectator jammed Brands Hatch circuit.
Joining the Superman leathers clad Bayliss on the grid for the start of both races were his wife Kim, along with Superman cape clad Ducati Corse Superbike director Paolo Ciabatti with Fast Dates Calendar Angel Katie Pugh.
"I had a bit of a battle with Nori but I didn't show all my cards. I had to follow him for a while but I was pretty much on the limit myself. Then Nori started to get a little bit slower so I passed him. I could see that James was coming and thought that this was the time to go because once James got there, there was no way he was going to let go. I put three or four laps in really good and that was it." It was a similar battle for victory in race 2 but this time Haga had the edge over Troy in the end. "I love having a hard and fair race with Nori and as much as I wanted that second win, I probably messed up a little bit when I let Nori pass twice. I wanted to have a look at his form and the second time I shouldn't have done it but we've increased our points lead a little bit so I'm really happy with the weekend."
In the first 25-lap contest Bayliss had a fight on his hands with Haga until the Japanese rider was forced back by Bayliss’ pace, while Toseland improved from fifth on lap one to score second, some 1.6 seconds behind Bayliss. Less than a second ahead of Haga. The leading group was a spread down to fourth, with Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia) taking the first off podium position.
Previous week's double winner Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) scored fifth place in the first race, and would layer return to take seventh in Race Two. His team-mate Troy Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) could not get into permanent podium contention due to a poor tire compound choice which left him without the necessary grip to stay with the front runners as his tires heated up. The reigning champ would score sixth place in each race, dropping him further from the championship fight, to fourth, on 193 points.
Chris Walker (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) showed well early in each race, but could not get into the top five positions on race set-up. He scored a seventh and an eighth. Alex Barros (Klaffi Honda) had to fight back from lowly first lap positions, after qualifying only 18th, to score one eighth place and one ninth, suffering from problems with his quick-shifter in race two. Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) looked to be capable of two top five finishes in each race, but fell in peculiarly similar circumstances, when his machine clipped the trackside kerbing in each race. Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Berik Ducati) completed the first race top ten, as he did in race two, with Laconi ninth in the opener.
Wildcard rider Tommy Hill (Virgin Mobile Yamaha) scored an impressive top 11 finish, after a battle with five other riders in race one.
Bayliss' Ducati team mate Lorenzo Lanzi finished the two races outside the top 10 after starting from eleventh place on the grid. "I got a good start in race 1 but it was a disaster at the first curve when I made contact with Nieto and Hill and lost some places. From the mid-point of the race onwards I was lapping in good times but then I got caught up in the midfield group and I was unable to get past Hill. In race 2 I got a better start, the bike was going well and I had the feeling that I had at Brno. But then I started to have a few problems with the tyres and slipped back. Pity because I really wanted to do a good race at Brands. Hopefully the last four rounds will go better and I can finish the championship in style."
Superbike Race 1: (Laps 25 = 92,575 Km)
Earlier in the day Haga finished third in race one after contesting the lead with Bayliss and Honda rider James Toseland. For the second outing Haga switched to his back-up machine, which used alternative settings, to take his fourth win at the venue in three years. In a thrilling race the pair were never separated by more than a quarter of a second as they crossed the line for lap after lap. Championship leader Bayliss applied considerable pressure in the final lap but the Yamaha man, wearing a new helmet design for this race, showed all of his experience and legendary late braking skills to take his first race win of the year and the 20th of his illustrious world superbike career.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia): "In the first race I could not push as hard as I wanted to in the last five laps and for the second race I used my other bike, which had other settings. I had a big fight with Troy and I was determined not to see his exhaust pipes again. It feels so good to win today. We have been close so many times, especially at the first race - where I crashed on the last lap - but for some reasons I have not been able to take the win. Today the feeling with the bike was very good and the tyres worked perfectly all the way to the end."
Team-mate Pitt proved to be one of the stars of the show at Brands, providing plenty of thrills for the fans as he overcame bad starts to take a third and fourth place finish. The Australian over-revved his YZF-R1 on the line on both occasions, relegating him to the middle of the pack. The former supersport world champion was able to match the pace of the very fastest men, working his way to fourth in the opener and a fine third in the second race to complete a great day for the Italian Yamaha squad.
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia): "I made a terrible start in both races, which is surprising as our R1 is normally one of the quickest bikes off the line. I think that I was a bit anxious and just gave it too many revs, but each time I lost a lot of places. I just had to get my head down and get through as quickly as possible. My rhythm was good and I was pleased with my fourth place in race one, so to top it off with a podium is a fantastic end to the day. I'm especially pleased as I have some friends over from Australia for this race. They've come a long way so it is great to give them something to cheer."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France): "Brands Hatch is difficult, very difficult, and until yesterday our chances were dead. In the race things were not so bad, and in race one I finally had a battle with many riders, and scored points. So compared to qualifying, it was a big jump up. It was the best I could do. We changed the setting between races and in the beginning it was not so bad, just at the end of the race the rear was moving and sliding and my lap time went up and up. But compared to qualifying, it was much better."
British Wild card rider Tommy Hill (Virgin Mobile Yamaha): "These boys are on it, and it was definitely a fast pace out there. I just needed to get past Nieto to get up to Walker and Kagayama, but it took too long. We changed the rear tyre to get more grip on the rear in race two but the bike had no drive and I had to stop. That was disappointing but things are a different league here and I have learned a lot."
Hill was forced out in race two, when his machine lost forward drive. Behind Hill in the opener came such SBK regular luminaries as Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox), Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France Ipone), Fonsi Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) and final point scorer, Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France Ipone).
In the second race, the last points were taken by Lanzi (in 11th), first race crasher Michel Fabrizio (DFX Honda), Abe, Gimbert and Suzuki privateer, Vittorio Iannuzzo (Celani Suzuki). Pierfrancesco Chili (DFX Honda) failed to score finishes in either race, but made a final lap to wave goodbye to his British fans, in what will be his last SBK race at this venue. Steve Martin missed out on a single point for the Foggy Petronas team, by finishing 16th in race two.
With two thirds of the season gone, Haga retains second in the championship, 77 points behind Bayliss and 11 ahead of third placed James Toseland. Pitt stays sixth in the points and has reduced the gap to fourth placed Troy Corser (Suzuki) to 36 points. Honda's Alex Barros is fifth in the series.
NEW STYLE ASSEN AWAITS SBK IN SEPTEMBER The ninth round of 12 SBK weekends will take place at the newly remodelled Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, between 1 and 3 September.
Superbike Race 2: (Laps 25 = 92,575 Km)
Fastest Lap 2° Troy Bayliss 1'26.706 153,747 Km/h
Riders Championship Standings:
600 SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
SUPERSPORT RACE: (Laps 23 = 85,169 Km)
Riders Championship Standings:
SUPERSTOCK 1000 FIM CUP
SUPERSTOCK 600 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Chicks That Kick Ass!
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With a 45 points lead and 3 Rounds remaining, Ben Spies looks to be is a shoe-in for this year's AMA Superbike Championship
Double AMA Superbike Podiums for Spies,
Mid Ohio Motorsports Course, OH, Aug 5-6th - Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies, his team mate and reigning champ Matt Mladin, and American Honda's Miguel Duhamel solidified their teop 3 places respectively in the AMA Superbike Championship with a pair of podiums in the Honda Super Cycle Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
The all-time wins leader at Mid-Ohio with nine victories, Duhamel admitted he wasn't in a position to add to that total, but he did run in second place and was ready to take advantage of any miscues by the leader on both days. On Saturday, Miguel held second until the 24th of 26 laps when defending class champion Mat Mladin made the pass for the second step on the podium. Sunday, Duhamel reluctantly ceded the runner-up position to Mladin on the 18th lap after running into minor problems late in the race.
Still, Mladin ended the weekend with a more solid grasp on his third place in the championship after 14 of 19 races. He trails only Spies and Mladin and has a 29 point cushion on the fourth place rider.
Teammate Jake Zemke followed Duhamel home on Sunday after falling in Saturday's race while in fourth place less than five laps from the end. The crash was caused when the front forks bottomed out for a brief instant in one of the faster sections of the 2.4-mile road course. The team hoped to make an improvement for Sunday's race, but it didn't work as planned and Zemke struggled with traction on both ends.
The Sunday race saw both Parts Unlimited Ducati teammates compete for positions inside the top five, with Neil Hodgson taking fifth place on his Ducati 999. Ben Bostrom challenged for fourth position most of the race before a crash ended his day early.
Neil fought through an exciting, close battle with Aaron Yates for much of the event. Hodgson held his rival at bay for much of the 26-lap distance. "It was a tough race. I was riding hard out there and battling with Yates for position," said the Isle of Man resident and former World Superbike champion. "Certainly, we're getting the bike to turn better and change direction better. I feel like we are making progress. We're looking forward to racing again in Virginia."
Bostrom challenged for fourth place until an incident in the Keyhole ended his day four laps before the finish. "The crash was my fault," said Ben Bostrom. "I thought we had a great bike out there but we were stuck behind (Jake) Zemke and had a hard time getting around him. I was a little frustrated with it and I knew there were only a few laps to go. I was also taking pressure from Yates, too. We passed a lapper in the Keyhole and I decided to get a good drive down the straight. I got into the throttle too hard and it threw me off, taking out Yates as well. Fortunately, we were both okay."
Miguel Duhamel, Saturday 3rd, "Ben (Spies) disappeared and then Mat (Mladin) came by us and we were trying to hang onto him, see if we could make up a little bit on Ben. But the best we did is we stopped the bleeding a bit. After that, he pulled away, and our cards were pretty much played. I was pretty much done towards the end of the race. But it feels good to be up here. The bike was working good, and obviously we're going to look at it tonight and try to make it a little faster. At Laguna (the previous round) we were a little disappointed. I was hoping to be on the box there too. But at least we were able to put it on the box, and hopefully we'll be able to be at least closer, if not one or two steps higher, tomorrow. We have to look at some stuff. There's still a few options left on our bike to make it a little faster. Maybe more than a little faster."
Miguel Duhamel, Sunday 3rd: "I really wanted second. I thought it would be great that I had a little progression from yesterday. The bike was better, my lap times were faster, and Ben (Spies) was Ben. He was just out there and he rode great, congrats to him and Mat (Mladin). It feels good for me. We have the CBR1000, ride that hard the whole race and feel great at the end. Hopefully we can do a bit better. I think our bike is approaching those kind of set-ups that we've been looking for for a little while now. So obviously, this doesn't hurt the old confidence and it's going to definitely increase, I think, my chances to go harder. I think the team will be motivated, I'm motivated. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I'm really, really excited about the rest of the season. Hopefully we can get a little closer to Ben and get a shot at winning this thing.
Jake Zemke, Saturday DNF, Sunday 4th: "Actually, the second part (of the Superbike race) was better. The first part we were doing okay and it seemed like those guys were coming back to me a bit. Miguel (Duhamel) looked like he was struggling a bit with the rear and Mat (Mladin) looked like he was struggling with the front. On the restart, with just 10 laps left, I wanted to go to the softer tire but we didn't have it on the same rim width that we've been running. It was on the wider rim so it took me two laps of that restart to get comfortable with it and we'd made an adjustment with the front end as well. It took a couple of laps but then I dropped right into the 25s and was pulling those guys back in before I lost the front there."