Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Friday, July 15, 2005

Check this out…

Author: site admin
Category: WSBK

Racing this weekend comes courtesy of the country that is short on vowels but long on motorcycle enthusiasm: Brno, Czech Republic. The World Superbike regulars are returning from a three week break but its been nine year gap the track last saw racing from the world class production bikes. As a result, only two riders have any previous experience racing Superbikes at the track: Chili and Corser. However, quite a few other riders raced there more recently in the Grand Prix series: Abe, Haga, Laconi, Walker, Nieto, McCoy, Cardoso and Pitt. As a result, this could be a place were some unexpected riders move to the front early and get a better setup than some of the traditionally fast riders who may have to learn the track in the early practice sessions.

The track itself is a great one. The 3.4 mile long circuit has two particularly impressive features. First, the track is very fast and flowing. Of the 15 turns on the track, all are taken in second, third or even forth gear. Expect this constant series of high speed bends, not unlike Assen, to favor riders who have the huevos grande necessary to keep the throttle cranked while rubbing fairings with other riders. The second feature is that the track is very wide. This allows multiple lines through corners so both the brave and the foolhardy can try to make passes which wouldn’t be available on other courses. There are four short straights at the Brno circuit so while top speed can’t win the race, raw horsepower can certainly be useful when it delivers strong acceleration between corners. Finally, it is a bumpy circuit so it will take excellent front end setup to deal with the hard braking for the various turns without upsetting the chassis and ruining the high corner speed that will be so important for a good lap.

Corser unicycles the GSXR

I think the biggest story of the weekend will again be Troy Corser. He knows the track, in fact he was the double winner at the last WSBK race at Brno in 1996, so shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting the GSXR setup out of the way in the early practice sessions. However off the bike he now has a 73 point lead in the championship over Vermeulen so he doesn’t need to stick his neck out for a win. That said, the Hondas and Ducatis have been coming on strong lately with five straight non-Corser wins, the last four of those being won by the big red Italian v-twins. With twelve races left in the season and 25 points per win, Corser can’t relax too much too soon. It would take a miracle or a mistake for someone to catch Troy in the points battle but as 2002 proved the unexpected can happen.

The second thing to watch are whether crashes determine the outcome rather than fast laps. Given the aggressiveness that Vermeulen, Toseland and Laconi have shown over the past few races, Brno should provide them with ample opportunities to generate some mid-corner excitement. Throw in some nothing-to-lose riders like Haga, Neukirchner, Walker or Muggeridge and plan on some over-the-top passes…some of which may end in the gravel traps.

Finally, I hope that the Czech race will reveal that Yamaha and Kawasaki have finally decided to join the championship party. The WSBK series has made a remarkable rebound in popularity and excitement compared to the past two seasons when it was dominated by a single marque. With Suzuki, Honda and Ducati all showing competitiveness in the first half of the season, all that remains are for the other players (well, except the perpetually slow Petronas) to make the leap to the front. If there were really 10 or 12 evenly equipped factory riders duking it out for the WSBK title, World Superbike would easily surpass MotoGP as the most popular form of motorcycle racing in the world. Lets hope we get to check out a little of that progress from Yamaha and Kawasaki at Brno.

Oh, and my bitch-of-the-week: I won’t be checking out that progress on Sunday as SpeedTV has again decided to tape delay the World Superbike races until Tuesday. Looks like Champ Cars and Touring Cars are what get the air time on Sunday. Sigh.

[image from the Suzuki web site.]

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