SOFUOGLU TAKES STRONG CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO VALENCIA2007-04-12 00:14
The start of the 2007 season could hardly have been better for Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) with two wins and one second place to his credit. His fabulous early run of form on the new-for-2007 CBR600RR has ropelled him to a 27-point advantage at the top of the championship table, with two other Honda riders, Katsuaki Fujiwara (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) and Robbin Harms (Stiggy Motorsports Honda CBR600RRR) in second and third places respectively.
After overcoming serious pelvic and collarbone
injuries in the 2006 season, to score a historic
second straight championship in Supersport,
Sebastien Charpentier (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
CBR600RR) has seen his fortunes wane in the early
part of the 2007 season. A recent crash in the
first practice session at round three in England
caused him to re-fracture his pelvis, albeit in a
much less serious way than in 2006. He is working
flat out to be fit for the Valencia round, trying
to make it three wins in a row at the 4.005km
Circuito Ricardo Tormo. 'Seb' was not the only
top rider to be injured at Donington, and at
least two other regular championship contenders are also fighting to be fit.
Lorenzo Alfonsi (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) had
enjoyed a good start to his first Honda season in
World Supersport, prior to being taken out by
another rider in the Donington race, but the
former European Superstock champion is determined
to get back into the points at a track he has
scored four podium finishes at during his Superstock years.
Sofuoglu has been thriving in the role of
championship leader, having won the first round
at Qatar and the most recent one at Donington.
Sofuoglu and his team-mate Charpentier were not
present at the official Valencia tests in March,
but after a strong showing earlier in the winter
months, he is understandably keen to get back to Valencia.
"I was really happy with the win at Donington and
it has given me a good lead in the standings,"
said the 23-year-old Turkish rider. "We have
tested in Valencia and I recorded some good lap
times there so it's a track I feel quite
comfortable riding. Of course, I am hoping for a
podium finish and think I have a good chance of
achieving that. I am looking forward to racing
with my team-mate again and I wish him and the
other injured riders all the best in their recoveries."
Charpentier is determined to get his championship
back on track at Valencia, despite his recent injury.
"Obviously I was very disappointed not to be able
to race at Donington, but these things happen and
you have to concentrate on the future," said
Charpentier, who displayed astonishing mental and
physical toughness to come back from injury to
win the series in 2006. "I've been working really
hard with my medical team in France to recover in
time for the next race. My injuries are healing
well and I am looking forward to getting back on
the bike and racing again in Valencia."
Fujiwara has been an omnipresent force at the
front again this year, and feels that Valencia
will be one of his best circuits.
"I am really ready for Valencia because we had a
good test there in March," said Fujiwara. "We
made good changes to the bike set-up during the
Donington weekend, having never tested there, but
we already have good information about our new
bike at Valencia. It is good to be going there
second in the championship so I will try my best
to make as many points as possible."
Alfonsi's early 2007 form and excellent sixth
place qualifying result at Donington are not the
only elements that contribute to his positive Valencia race outlook.
"We made a lot of kilometres in testing at
Valencia in the most recent official sessions and
the results were quite good, so I want to
continue my season in a strong way," said
Lorenzo. "I think it helps me that the team knows
the bike very well and I think we found the tyre
for the Valencia track back in March. We know we
should have a good solution for the set-up and I
feel pretty good about racing at Valencia."
World Superbike Round 4 of 13
TOSELAND OUT TO MAINTAIN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
James Toseland (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
CBR1000RR) enters the fourth round of the
Superbike World Championship still in possession
of the championship lead he has enjoyed since
leaving Qatar after round one, despite the
misfortune of a retirement in the most recent
round. A measure of just how effective the start
of his season has been comes from the fact that
he is the only rider in the top five to have
suffered a no-score, but yet he still leads
second place rider Max Biaggi by five points.
With the latest electronics working in harmony
with his well-proven machine, Toseland's
confidence in the run-up to Valencia is still
high, and he fully intends to leave Valencia with his championship lead intact.
Toseland, the 2004 World Champion, has started
from the front row in every one of the three
rounds so far, and has scored three wins and two second places.
The Donington round on April 1 was a positive one
for Roberto Rolfo (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
CBR1000RR) and he is the second highest placed
Honda rider in the series. Valencia is well known
to him, despite the fact that he did not test
there in March, during the official sessions called by the series organisers.
Michel Fabrizio (DFX Corse Honda CBR1000RR) is
looking forward to the Valencia race after
Donington, with the former Superstock champion
keen to get back to the sort of form that
delivered him three podium finishes for Honda in
the 2006 season. Currently 14th overall, Fabrizio
heads up a running flush of Honda riders, down to
his team-mate Steve Martin (DFX Corse Honda CBR1000RR) in 17th.
Joshua Brookes (Alto Evolution Honda CBR1000RR)
and Karl Muggeridge (Alto Evolution Honda
CBR1000RR) are buoyed by their recent points
scoring rides at Donington, with Muggeridge now
much recovered from the foot and ankle tendon
injury he suffered in practice for the Australian round in March.
For Toseland, Valencia will present another
opportunity for the youngest ever champion of the
class to score his first career double win, after
he looked in a good position to do it at
Donington in the last round. He is,
understandably, even more intent on defending his championship lead.
"It was tough in Donington to go from the joy of
winning the first race to not finishing the
second, but I'll be putting in all behind me and
concentrating on the job we have to do in
Valencia," stated Toseland. "I'm still leading
the championship and that is where I said I
wanted to be after Donington. I'll say the same
again - I want to leave Spain as the series
leader and that is the goal for the whole team."
Rolfo's improvement in form was easy to see at
Donington, and he expects to make further strides at Valencia.
"I had a much better feeling on the bike at
Donington and although I had bad luck once again
in the Superpole, I feel like I have made really
good progress," said the Italian. "I am looking
forward to Valencia - it is a track we have
tested so we have already done some good work
towards the set-up of the bike. I know that I can
do better and I will be looking to prove that in Spain."
Fabrizio's Valencia weekend will be particularly
busy after the team came into possession of new
electronics for one of his machines. As the
team's favoured test venue, Valencia is the
perfect place at which to do back-to-back evaluations of any new equipment.
"For me, Valencia will be an important event
because we have done a lot of kilometres on this
circuit," affirmed the rider from Rome. "I hope
that with the new electronic parts on motorcycle
will help us to be competitive, like the best
Hondas in the World Championship."
Martin's approach to Valencia has also been given
a boost with the addition of some new electronics
to try on one of his CBR1000RR race machines, on
a circuit which the team has a lots of data about.
"Valencia is where we've done all our winter
testing and so we should have a good advantage
there," said Martin, with a touch of realism
added. "The bikes are being taken straight to
Valencia from Donington, and so any development
work will now have to be done during practice and
qualifying for race weekend. But we will work
hard in the team and in Valencia you will see our best."
Brookes has scored points in all but one of the
2007 races so far, and but for a tyre choice
gamble at Donington that didn't pay off as
expected, he may well be even higher up the order
than his current placing of 15th.
"We are looking a bit stronger now," said
Brookes. "We have tested at Valencia so we have
got some data from there and we know which direction to go in now."
Muggeridge, who scored two good finishes at
Donington after being unable to start in the
previous Phillip Island round due to injury, now looks forward to Valencia.
"We found out a lot about how our bike worked in
race situations at Donington," said the 2004
World Supersport Champion. "We are looking
forward to Valencia because we will be able to
concentrate more on the rear suspension there."
The next stop after the Valencia weekend is
Assen, where round five of the WSS and SBK
championships take place between 27 and 29 April.
Source: Honda Pro Image
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