News 14 May 2010

WSBK: Corser looking to build momentum at Kyalami

Corser will be hoping to continue his Monza form in South Africa this weekend.

Corser will be hoping to continue his Monza form in South Africa this weekend.

With a maiden podium finish on the factory BMW still fresh in his mind, Australia’s Troy Corser gets straight back down to business this weekend when the Superbike World Championship heads to Kyalami in South Africa.

It’s been a massive logistical exercise to move the entire world superbike caravan from Europe to the southern hemisphere in the space of four days, and when Corser arrives in South Africa he will be on on a steep learning curve.

“This Friday will be the first time I’ve been out on the Kyalami track on the BMW S 1000 RR,” said Corser. “Last year my crash at Monza put me out of the race in South Africa.

“This circuit really is one for the riders and has a lot of uphill and downhill sections. Getting the right set-up for the bike is vital here, as the track is extremely bumpy.”

Despite starting with a blank canvas, Corser takes comfort in the fact that his BMW is now a competitive unit, as emphasised by his third place in last Sunday’s race two at Monza.

“The bike is a lot further along than at this stage last year. Back then we were still getting to grips with the chassis and engine, and both Ruben and our reserve rider [Australian] Steve Martin struggled at Kyalami. This year things look rather different. The bike’s good and I’ve always gone well at this circuit, so I’m expecting a good result.”

Kyalami’s 4.246km circuit features dramatic elevation changes and a mix of fast and slow corners, which is a real challenge for even the most experienced competitors.

The high altitude also places a real premium on set-up, as the ‘thin’ air robs engines of outright power at the very top of the rev-range.

Last year the factory Ducati team ruled the roost at Kyalami, with Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio going one-two in both 25-lap races.

Both riders are yet to hit their straps this year, and Kyalami just might be the time to seize their opportunities, although there are a host of potential winners also ready to share in the power play.

Italian Max Biaggi (Aprilia) is one of those after he stole the show with a superb double victory at Monza to move within 3pts of championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki).

Meanwhile, Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Carlos Checa (Ducati) will be looking for redemption in South Africa after hapless outings at Monza, and the Yamaha duo of James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow are now consistent front runners. In fact, Crutchlow, who already has two pole positions in 2010, was stalking Biaggi in race two at Monza before he copped a hole in his oil cooler and crashed.

Kyalami will also be a first time circuit for some in world superbike, most notably Biaggi’s exceptionally fast rookie team-mate Leon Camier, while local interest should include Sheridan Morais, also on an Aprilia. Morais is the reigning South African Superbike and Supersport Champion.

Sunshine Coast’s Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) is still recovering from his Phillip Island knee injury, but his strength is improving every weekend and the 10-time World Superbike race winner has too much competitive spirit to be languishing among the back markers for too much longer.

“After my return in Assen I was determined to make up some ground but unfortunately my knee is still not 100 per cent and I found it more difficult in Monza than I would have liked,” said Vermeulen. “I’m continuing to work hard on rehabilitation and physiotherapy and I am certain however that the more I ride, the more movement I will have in the knee.

“I have high expectations of myself but I have to be patient and work away at getting back to the platform where I think we are at. I have raced in Kyalami before in World Supersport, but I can honestly say that I don’t have much of a memory of being here so I will more or less treat this as a new track and hope that I can bounce back to consistent point scoring finishes.”

Machinery-wise, Vermeulen must have been encouraged by his teammate Tom Sykes’ excellent fifth place in race two at Monza, which was the Japanese manufacturer’s best race result in a number of years.

Newcastle’s Broc Parkes (Honda) is the other Aussie racing, after he scored his Italian privateer team’s first World Superbike point at Monza.

The Supersport World Championship went from a close fight between three riders before the previous Monza round to an even more tightly contested struggle after Eugene Laverty (Honda) took his third race win of 2010 last weekend.

Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) have also recorded a single win each in 2010, with the current standings showing Lascorz on 101pts, Sofuoglu on 97 and Laverty with 91.

Laverty was a convincing winner at Kyalami in 2009, but few expect anything than another close encounter of a top three kind this coming weekend.