Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Misano, San Marino2007-06-14 00:55
Having not finished a race for the first time this year at the previous Silverstone round, long-term runaway championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) will be looking to restock his points advantage after his no score in England.
Until the fateful Silverstone race, when he slipped off on the first corner and could not re-start, Sofuoglu had been ravenous in his appetite for points, scoring five wins from six races, and posting second in the only other round. Even with no points garnered in England last time out, Sofuoglu still has an astonishing 45-point lead as he heads for a much-changed Misano circuit.
The Santamonica track, now 4.180km long, is being run in the reverse direction this season, and will also welcome the MotoGP series later in the, as well as the WSB ensemble in June.
Katsuaki Fujiwara (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) will be running at one of his Italian team's home tracks this coming weekend, in the second of three Italian rounds on the calendar. He currently holds third place in the championship fight and he scored the third of his three podium places so far at Silverstone.
The 2007 season has been a hard one for double world champion Sebastien Charpentier (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) to take so far, with only two points scoring finishes after injury and sheer misfortune have struck him with some regularity. He won the 2005 Misano Supersport race for Honda and his current team, and sees the next round as a chance to not only go for a podium himself, but also try to help Sofuoglu in his championship charge.
Lorenzo Alfonsi (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) may regard Misano as his best possibility yet to break into the top five, in what will only be his tenth World Supersport meeting. Having just won a round of the Italian CEV championship at Vallelunga, his confidence is on a high.
Sofuoglu has already consigned Silverstone to the outer reaches of his memory as he goes for the win once more, and the new circuit direction has few fears for him.
"I've been preparing for Misano in the same way as I prepare for every race," said the 22-year-old Sofuoglu: "I've been working on my fitness and trying to get ready for racing in the hot conditions of San Marino. I am not so worried about the new direction of the track. I had never ridden at Donington Park before this year, and I got the race win there, so I will just approach Misano in the same way. I am looking forward to the race and hopefully putting the events of Silverstone behind me. As always, I will just try to do my best."
Fujiwara's recent run of misfortune in race situations was ended with a podium finish at Silverstone, and the Japanese star is out to emulate that finish once more at his team's home race.
"To get on the podium again at Silverstone was what we needed," said Fujiwara. "I will be trying my best to get on it again at Misano and the changes to the track means that it will be a new challenge for all of us."
Charpentier is looking to Misano as a chance to rebuild his season, and is completely unfazed by the changes to a track that he won at in 2005.
"Although the track is new this year at Misano, I don't think it is a problem," said the only rider to have ever scored two World Supersport titles. "We are all more or less in the same situation and I am not too worried. I am hoping that it has improved the circuit and for me whether I have to turn right or left, it is the same. I will just try my best in the circumstances. I am hoping for good weather so I can put in a good performance to claim some points for the team."
Alfonsi looks to his home race as an opportunity to do well, especially after his recent CIV Supersport success.
"It is always good to race at home," said Alfonsi: "Misano is always a popular round and I don't see why it would be any less popular now we run in reverse. If I can make a good impression in the points this weekend I will be satisfied, and as always I will be going for a top ten finish if all is well. My confidence is high right now."
World Superbike Round 8 of 13
TOSELAND HEADING FOR MISANO IN DETERMINED MOOD
Long-term championship leader James Toseland (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) has another opportunity to extend his championship lead this weekend, as a revamped and reversed Misano circuit welcomes the 2004 champion and his peer group to yet another overheated weekend of top class Superbike action.
Toseland has led the championship in frequently impressive style since round one and even after a mishap in the rain at Silverstone last time out, he recovered well enough to work his way back through almost the entire field to finish eighth. He is now on 237 points, 23 ahead of Noriyuki Haga and 36 ahead of Max Biaggi.
Roberto Rolfo (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) has made great advances in set-up and familiarity with his machine at competitive pace recently, and is one of three supported Honda riders in the Superbike class hailing from Italy. He is eighth overall at present, and would have had a podium at the last Italian-based round - Monza - had his luck not deserted him late on in the first race. He equalled his best finish of fourth at Silverstone and now looks to take his first SBK podium.
Michel Fabrizio (DFX Corse Honda CBR1000RR) has found his second full SBK season a tough one as the number of his fellow top-class riders have increased, even as the overall field itself has contracted slightly. His best so far this year is sixth at Assen, and he is an overall 12th in the championship itself.
Luca Morelli (DFX Corse Honda CBR1000RR) approaches his home race in what will be only his second Honda outing in World Superbike happy to be running in front of his home supporters. The young rider finished in the Silverstone points and is out to repeat the trick at a circuit few expect to be anything other than hot and hard work.
Due to internal issues the Alto Evolution team will not race at the San Marino World Superbike race at Misano this weekend.
Toseland feels that Misano will be a stern test but after a recent evaluation session in preparation for a possible Suzuka 8-Hour call up, he feels he can meet another new challenge head on - especially as he was on pole at the Misano circuit in 2006.
"I'm a bit apprehensive about Misano this year with the track direction being reversed," said Toseland who qualified his statement with the comment that, "everyone has tested there except for us - we didn't realise the track was going to be finished so we didn't designate it as a test track. However, the recent Suzuka test went really well and I didn't know that circuit, so I can't see a problem with getting to know the new Misano either. I got pole position there last year and hopefully I can do the same this year."
Rolfo has been making great improvements compared to his early season form in recent races and thus looks to his latest home round in Italy as an opportunity, rather than feeling any pressure to race in front of what is expected to be a sizeable crowd.
"I'm looking forward to racing at the new Misano circuit," said Rolfo. "I'm curious about what the weekend will bring - we didn't test there so this is completely new for us. I have spoken to some of the other riders and they have told me that the new layout is an improvement. I hope this is true because Misano has always been one of my favourite tracks. After Silverstone, I'm excited about getting back on my bike. I really enjoyed the wet racing and I'm now confident going into the eighth round at Misano. There will be a lot of the home fans there and I want to perform well and fight for the podium to keep them happy."
Fabrizio has had the benefit of a recent test session to get used to the new Misano, but his test proved to him that a new set of challenges await any rider who approaches this particular weekend.
"After the Silverstone race the results should be OK - because things couldn't be much worse, " joked the multiple podium finisher from the 2006 season: "I believe that the New Misano circuit will be a big problem for all the riders. It is a new venue, now completely different from the old one. The new Misano is a very difficult and it will demand a different strategy. The tyre choice will be fundamental but finding a set-up will be hard because there are a lot of bumps and getting good drive will be very difficult. I hope to be the best Italian rider because I must get rid of the bad memory of Silverstone."
Home ground for Morelli may not be any great advantage this weekend, as so much in the DFX team he joined only recently is new for him.
"Now Misano is a very difficult circuit," said Morelli: "There are fast corners, very particular in their features, so now it will make a new history. I will work with my technicians to set-up the suspension and the electronic parts but I know that it will be difficult at this track. I have several of my fans there, so I must race very fast for them."
Brno is the next stop on the WSB tour schedule, with the wonderfully laid-out Czech circuit coming up on 22 July.
Source: Honda Pro Image
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