April 3, 2005

Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) secured the lead in the World Supersport Championship after a masterful win in the high winds which plagued Phillip Island. With the morning rains clearing away before race action started in earnest, 25 knot winds - with gusts up to 40 knots, took over the attentions of all 19 Supersport entrants and eventually delayed the start of the 21-lap Supersport race. Charpentier, starting from pole, had to fight hard for his win, after a poor start left him eighth off the line. Into the lead for the first time on lap four he had an almost race long fight with Yamaha rider Kevin Curtain, who eventually faded to finish second, 3.595 seconds down.

Katsuaki Fujiwara (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Fabien Foret (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) were left to fight it out for the final podium position, after their fellow podium challenger Michel Fabrizio (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) slipped out of the race with only three laps remaining.

Foret was to take this coveted third place, by only 0.021 seconds, with Fujiwara fourth and Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Ducati) fifth. A knee injury for Foret, after a crash in the wet morning warm up, left his knee in a tender condition, affecting his early pace. World Supersport rookie Tatu Lauslehto (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR) took a confident ninth, only troubled by the high winds, which made the final two high-speed corners a real test of rider nerve with each passing lap.

Qualifying has been something of a Honda whitewash, as Charpentier, Fabrizio and Foret led the order, with Charpentier setting the best lap of 1'35.746.

Charpentier, who lost a huge lead in the first championship race in Qatar five weeks ago, was understandably relived and delighted to secure the top points score, and with it the championship lead.

"I am especially happy with this win because of the disappointment from Qatar. I came here with a lot of confidence because we had a very good test at Valencia a couple of weeks ago. I had a very enjoyable race with Curtain but the main problem was the wind. It was blowing differently at every corner, changing lap by lap, but it was the same for everyone."

Foret, battling hard throughout and with the experience that his 2002 World Championship win brings, is now fourth in the title chase.

"I crashed this morning in warm up and I had a problem with my knee, so at the start I was very worried about leaning into left corners, in case I banged it on the ground. So I closed the throttle a lot on these corners at the start! Afterwards, I got the measure of it and I am happy with this podium, because Qatar was not a good race for me. There is more work to do again to overtake Ten Kate but for now this is a good step."

For Fujiwara, fourth was hard won, and was good enough to keep him second overall, on 38 points.

"I am obviously very disappointed to lose a podium finish for the width of tyre. That was very frustrating, but I am happy for Sebastien and the rest of the team. The wind made the bike very difficult to control but I had an amazing fight with Foret and Fabrizio, and I tried as hard as I could the whole way through."

Finnish rider Lauslehto was new to the demands of the magnificent Phillip Island circuit, only disliking the wind.

"The track is very fast, with a great layout but the only problem was the wind. It was particularly bad in the last two corners. It would have been good if I could have caught Stephane Chambon in front of me but I did not want to push too hard in that wind."

Fabrizio, looking as likely as any of the other riders to take the last podium place, nonetheless increased his Supersport reputation once more.

"I started very fast and I thought I would stay in the group with Foret and Fujiwara at the end, but a few laps from the finish I had a problem with front grip. It was never a problem during practice - we did 25 laps with no problems - but today it arrived. The slow MG corner, where I slipped up, was the only one where I had to close the throttle completely. Around the others I could keep even 5% throttle, and that helped the front to stop pushing. Even then, I had to take very wide lines to take the pressure off the front."

World Superbike Round 2 of 12

Max Neukirchner (Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR) wrote his name large in the World Superbike skies over Phillip Island, running to a fourth and third in only his second ever Superbike race, swapping race finishes with Chris Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda) who was first third then fourth. 21-year-old German Neukirchner was revelation at such a difficult track, in only his second World Superbike race.

Weather conditions played a menacing part in proceedings, with the high winds affecting all the riders in race one, while the rains returned midway through race two, making it an aggregate result of leg one and leg two. Each points scoring race delivered the same Suzuki 1-2 out front, Troy Corser heading up Yukio Kagayama, with Corser's double giving him the championship lead, on 91 points.

A wet start to the day meant that the 20-minute warm up sessions were run on rain tyres, but despite a few spots of water on the visors of the main protagonists the sun re-asserted its dominance on race one's proceedings - just as it had done in qualifying and Superpole. The best placed Honda rider in Superpole proved to be rookie rider Neukirchner following up his second best qualifying performance in the regular sessions with an equally impressive third place in Superpole - behind winner Yukio Kagayama and Petronas rider Steve Martin.

In the first race of the day, Suzuki pairing Corser and Kagayama secured a 1-2 finish, with third place hotly contested in the final stages of the race. Chris Vermeulen secured third, after a hard and sometimes tactile battle with Neukirchner. Up to seven riders battled it out for the final podium place in the early stages, with Vermeulen and Neukirchner making best use of their tyres and machines to outpace eventual fifth place rider Andrew Pitt (Yamaha).

In race two, the rains came after lap 12, and the contest was eventually completed after a wet race of 10 laps. In this battle against the elements Neukirchner was third on the road and third overall, a career best for rider and his Klaffi team.

Raceday was a tough challenge for some other Honda riders, most of all Pierfrancesco Chili, who missed out on a start in either race, after falling in qualifying and breaking his left collarbone for the third time in five years. He is taking medical advice on his return to his native Italy, but may miss the next round at Valencia on April 24th.

Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) had an eighth place in race one, and fell while contesting a corner with Ducati rider James Toseland in the dry section of race two, and could not complete the race. Ben Bostrom (Renegade Honda Koji CBR1000RR) was forced to retire in race one with a single lap to go, but finished race two 11th, enjoying the rain conditions on a machine which is still to reach its full race specification.

Vermeulen remains fourth in the standings, with 50 points, while Neukirchner has jumped to fifth, on 37. Muggeridge holds 12th, on 15, just ahead of Chili, with 11. Bostrom's five points for 11th put him 20th in the rankings.

Neukirchner has been the find of the season so far, following up on his Rookie of the Year status in World Supersport 2004 with some astoundingly good rides in SBK already.

"For my first time on a Superbike at Phillip Island, I'm really happy for the third and the fourth place. Many riders crashed in front of me, Walker, Haga - a lot of riders. I thought I should keep cool and relax, so taking third place was not so bad. It was good to be the first Honda in race two as well."

For Vermeulen, a return to home ground gave him his wished for podium.

"I had a real battle with Max on another Honda towards the end of that first race. He was riding really well - so well that I have a big black mark from his front tyre on my leathers! It's just a pity that we had to start from the third row, and had to push so hard in the early stages. In race two it was really slippy out there, worse than in warm-up this morning. A third and fourth from ninth on the grid isn't so bad."

Muggeridge had a less successful day than his team-mate Vermeulen.

"I was having real problems getting the power to the ground in race one. In the second race I was battling with James Toseland and we got into a situation at Turn 10, where I just had nowhere to go. After my crash in warm-up this morning I wanted to have a couple of good results for the team, who have worked really hard."

Bostrom was forced to race with a less than full-spec race engine, and was most competitive in the wet leg of race two.

"The bike is coming together but I have to get to grips with the tyres better. In the dry I wasn't particularly special, we were only special in the wet. I haven't been here for three years so I was pretty lost on Friday as well."

Chili, after breaking his collarbone and missing the races, was keen to get back to track action.

"I will have to go home to have an operation and then they will be able to see how long the recovery will be. Just as I get to the stage of being able to have the plate removed, the bone breaks again."


RACE : (Laps 21 = 93,345 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / S. CHARPENTIER / FRA / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'28.920 /
2 / K. CURTAIN / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 34'32.515 / 3.595
3 / F. FORET / FRA / Team Megabike / 34'38.561 / 9.641
4 / K. FUJIWARA / JPN / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 34'38.584 / 9.664
5 / J. VD GOORBERGH / NED / Ducati Selmat / 34'58.522 / 29.602
6 / J. STIGEFELT / SWE / Stiggy Motorsports / 35'03.088 / 34.168
7 / B. PARKES / AUS / Yamaha Motor Germany / 35'11.615 / 42.695
8 / S. CHAMBON / FRA / Gil Motor Sport / 35'15.280 / 46.360
9 / T. LAUSLEHTO / FIN / Klaffi Honda / 35'17.896 / 48.976
10 / C.COGAN / FRA / Moto 1 - Suzuki / 35'25.779 / 56.859
11 / J. FORES / ESP / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 35'49.276 / 1'20.356
12 / D. GARCIA / ESP / Lightspeed Kawasaki / 35'49.381 / 1'20.461
13 / T. MIKSOVSKY / CZE / Intermoto Czech Republic / 35'57.621 / 1'28.701
14 / P. SZKOPEK / POL / Intermoto Czech Republic / 34'46.990 / 1 Lap
Fastest Lap 14° Sébastien Charpentier 1'37.438 164,228 Km/h
Lap Record: 2003 Katsuaki Fujiwara 1'36.642 165,580Km/h

Riders Championship Standings:

Race 1: (Laps 22 = 97,790 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 35'15.199 /
2 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 35'23.478 / 8.279
3 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 35'27.750 / 12.551
4 / M.NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 35'27.960 / 12.761
5 / A. PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 35'28.403 / 13.204
6 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 35'30.315 / 15.116
7 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 35'32.394 / 17.195
8 / K. MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 35'49.020 / 33.821
9 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 35'49.209 / 34.010
10 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 35'57.793 / 42.594
11 / S. GIMBERT / FRA / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 35'58.050 / 42.851
12 / M.SANCHINI / ITA / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 35'59.755 / 44.556
13 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 36'00.003 / 44.804
14 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 36'16.210 / 1'01.011
15 / A. STROUD / NZL / Superbike New Zealand / 36'47.355 / 1'32.156
Fastest Lap 2° Troy Corser 1'34.917 168,589 Km/h

Race 2 : (Laps 22 = 97,790 Km) Combined Results
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /
1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'34.183 /
2 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 37'40.005 / 5.822
3 / M.NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 37'45.080 / 10.897
4 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 37'52.940 / 18.757
5 / F. NIETO / ESP / Ducati SC Caracchi / 38'27.272 / 53.089
6 / A. CORRADI / ITA / Team Pedercini / 38'28.310 / 54.127
7 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 38'32.259 / 58.076
8 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 38'37.511 / 1'03.328
9 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 38'38.538 / 1'04.355
10 / M.SANCHINI / ITA / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 38'42.937 / 1'08.754
11 / B. BOSTROM / USA / Renegade Koji / 38'48.630 / 1'14.447
12 / A. STROUD / NZL / Superbike New Zealand / 38'50.893 / 1'16.710
13 / L. LANZI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 38'54.187 / 1'20.004
14 / M.PRAIA / POR / DFXtreme Sterilgarda / 40'18.656 / 2'44.473
Fastest Lap 6° Troy Corser 1'34.979 168,479 Km/h
Lap Record: 1999 Troy Corser 1'33.019 172,030 Km/h

Riders Championship Standings:
6 ABE 33, 7 PITT 31, 8 TOSELAND 22, 9 BUSSEI 20, 10 NIETO 17, 11 HAGA 16,
12 MUGGERIDGE 15, 13 CHILI 11, 14 GIMBERT 11, 15 SANCHINI 11

Source: Honda Pro Image

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