WSB: Qatar and Valencia Recap
By Bart Madson
In an off-season that has seen a huge influx of talent from MotoGP amid swirling speculation and rumors surrounding rider movements, it has been a particularly busy past couple of days in World Superbike. Recent tests by teams in Valencia and Qatar have concluded and FIM has just released a press release titled "2006 Permanent Final Entry Lists." So, for those who need to catch their breath (myself included), it's time to go around the horn for a recap of what's been going on lately in World Superbike.
First up is Ducati. MotoGP refugee Troy Bayliss has been beyond impressive during pre-season testing. Bayliss continued his excellence during the recent test at Valencia. The veteran Australian was the fastest man on the track, whether on qualifying rubber where he went 1'34.3 or on race-spec Pirellis where he was 1'34.4. Either way, Bayliss was almost a full second ahead of his nearest competitors, among whom was teammate Lorenzo Lanzi. The Ducati Xerox duo have all the appearances of a fierce tandem capable of running at or near the top of what promises to be an extremely competitive season.
There were a glut of non-Xerox Ducati's at the Valencia test as well, with Ivan Clementi (Pederchini Ducati), Roberto Rolfo (Caracchi Ducati) and Marco Borciani (Sterilgarda - Berik Ducati) all running laps under the 1'37 mark, but a full two seconds off of the Bayliss pace. Also now included in the Ducati camp is Reuben Xaus (Sterilgarda - Berik Ducati) and Max Neukirchner (Pederchini Ducati).
Neukirchner, who participated in the Valencia test but was unable to use race spec Pirellis, was the fastest of the non-Xerox Ducati's. The young German made his Ducati debut during the Valencia test, having been booted from his Klaffi Honda ride once informed that the Honda team could only support one rider in the upcoming season, that rider being Alex Barros.
Speaking of Barros, the veteren MotoGP rider is reported to have piloted the 2006 Klaffi Honda Fireblade with which he will contest this year's WSB Championship at a recent test in Sicily. Not to be left out of the hustle and bustle of recent events, Carl Fogarty, whose Fogarty-Petronas team was not active at Valencia or Qatar, had this to say in a press release welcoming the entry of Barros into the WSB ranks.
"I think it's great for World Superbikes. It gives the superbike guys a chance to show how good they are. Barros beat Rossi in a GP last year fair and square and, on his day, he can be as fast as anyone. It's just a shame that Vermeulen won't be there as I'm sure he would have wiped the floor with them."
The ever diplomatic Fogerty is right, Vermeulen won't be there, last year's runner up having swam against the recent current of rider movement and headed into the MotoGP ranks rather than fleeing from it, but his former Winston Ten Kate teammate Karl Muggeridge will. Muggers is joined by James Toseland and the duo were right behind Toseland's former Xerox Ducati team on the timesheets at Valencia. Both riders worked with Pirellis and qualifying tires, Toseland second-fastest on qualifiers, third-fastest on the regulars. Muggeridge was close behind his teammate on both tires.
Fabien Foret, the only member of Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra in action during the tests, utilized his time at the Valencia circuit to familiarize himself with his new GSX-R1000. It is the first time in his career that the former World Supersport Champion has competed in the Superbike class. By the conclusion of the test, the Frenchman had managed to break the 1'37 mark.
Now to Yamaha, who had a team at Valencia and another at Qatar. Norick Abe was the lone member of Yamaha Motor France to participate at Valencia, with teammates Sebastien Gimbert and Shinichi Nakatomi skipping, Gimbert due to a scheduling conflict and Nakatomi having tested at the circuit twice already this year. Abe matched Neukirchner's 1'36.4 pace, which is fitting since the Japanese rider, like his German counterpart, did not run 2006 race spec Pirelli tires.
Over in Qatar, Team Yamaha Motor Italia's Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt ran next to Yamaha's MotoGP contingent of Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards. The Yamaha team, which just announced a three-year sponsorship agreement with Santander Consumer Bank Italy - with the team planning to run the red and white livery colors of its new sponsor, was limited to 2005-race spec tires. The two riders ran similar times as the ones set during a December test at the same circuit. Haga's day was clouded by a late session highside, occurring just 30 minutes before the scheduled end of the test, which left Haga unhurt but his bike damaged. The Japanese rider ended the day with fastest WSB lap of the test at 2'00.5.
The Yamaha duo were joined in attendance at Qatar by the D.F.X Treme Honda team of Superbike rookie Michel Fabrizio and ageless WSB veteran Peirfrancesco Chili. Both Honda riders followed Haga and Pitt on the timesheets, just under a second off of Haga's pace.
In the Kawasaki camp former Xeros Ducati rider Regis Laconi is listed on the "Permanent Final Entry List" as teamed up with Chris Walker on the new ZX-10R. Neither rider participated in testing.
Another entry of note on the FIM "Permanent Final Entry List" is AMA rider Chris Peris, who is slated to contest the Supersport Championship under the Team Biker-Daze-Yamaha-Moto 1. Peris made the jump into the WSS ranks from the AMA Supersport series, after Renaud Lemarque (owner of the new Daze-Yamaha team) invited the young Canadian to a one-off ride at the Misano circuit last year.
Also, two MV Agustas will be contending the Superstock series, along with 21-year-old American Jason Perez, who is pencilled in to race a Suzuki GSXR 1000 for HP Racing. Perez has been listed as a rider for the WCM Bimota team in this year's MotoGP series as well.
As usual Max Biaggi's name is nowhere to be found. It's as if the much maligned Roman has been purged from the motorcycle world altogether. Who knows were he'll end up.
"The first time I tested here in November I did a 36 and now today on the race tyre I did a 34.4 which is quite an improvement. Obviously I feel pretty comfortable on the bike and things are going really well so that makes me happy. The start of the championship is just around the corner and we haven't had to change the bike a lot since I first hopped on it. I'm feeling confident and I'm sure I'm going to be a contender for the championship and especially for the race wins. It's been quite a while since I've won so I'm a bit excited about that and can't wait to get one under my belt. I'm very impressed with the bike and feel good on it. I haven't felt this much at home for a long time!"
"I felt that I rode well and am pleased with that, I made a good improvement over yesterday when I struggled to get into the groove and back onto the bike after a break of two months. Today I did some good times, on race tyres we're just two or three tenths away from Troy's pace with 1m35s. The feeling with the bike is good and we learnt a lot these two days so I now think we're ready for Qatar. The championship finally gets underway in a couple of weeks time and it'll be great to get back to racing, especially with the factory Ducati, and the prospects are looking good."
We did a race simulation, and it was pretty good. The only other thing we could have done is make the long run at lunchtime, instead of a quarter past four, when the track was colder and the grip level is not so hot. It took two whole days to work through everything we had to test here, but it was OK, and we put together the best bike we could. I think we have really good info from here and we can even improve the bike again before we even start. We,ve had a good test.
For me this test has mostly been about time with the bike. Getting to learn it even more, doing quite a few laps and I tried the qualifying tyres for the first time on a Honda. The first one I put in I was a bit tentative with but on the second one I did a decent time. We went round in circles a bit this morning, so we didn't really improve until this afternoon. We worked on the tires and then right at the end we changed a bit of the set-up and it gave us another improvement. I think we are nearly there now, largely because of the tests at Almeria and here. I'm looking forward to Qatar, especially with the amount of improvements we have made since the last time we were there."
"For the first time on the bike, I'm very happy. I could do 1.37s consistently and that was on 2005 race tires, not the new improved stuff they had here for some of the experienced quick riders. I am surprised how well I got on because I did not what to expect of either the bike or myself. The most important thing here was for me to get comfortable with the bike and I was nearly there by the end of the day. I'm also very happy with my team and it is a testament to all their good work that we had no problems at all. Valencia is a physically demanding track and you hardly get a chance to rest, so now I am quite tired. Tired, but very happy!"
"Today we worked mainly on the injection system. We wanted to get a good setting for this and then try for a good suspension setting. It was difficult to get a good setting on the mapping and it is still not perfect. Because of this we didn't get to try any new settings on the suspension."
"Not so bad a test although it was a shame to end with a crash. Going through the last of the high-speed right hand corners I lost the rear and had a big crash. I am ok but maybe I hurt in the morning! The new bike is a real improvement although we are still trying to find the perfect settings. The engine for sure is much nicer: less aggressive and stronger coming out of the corners, and the team has made some improvements in all areas. At the end we made some big changes to the front and, for me, it was a good direction. I am happy with the progress made by the team, but we have not tested with our rivals, so only at the first race will we know how competitive we are."
"I was happy with how it went over the three days. I feel some big improvements from last year, especially with the electronics and the engine braking. We got through a lot here and we're running the 2006 suspension front and back now and it's working well already. The lap times are good and consistent and there was none of the chatter problem that we have had here in the past, so that's also a big step forward. There's a few more things to try before the race and I've still got to find a front tire that will work good over the race distance."
Valencia Test Unofficial Times:
1. Bayliss (Ducati) 1'34.4 (Qualifying tires - 1'34.3)
2. Lanzi (Ducati) 1'35.6 (1'35.4)
3. Toseland (Honda) 1'35.8 (1'35.2)
4. Muggeridge (Honda) 1'35.9 (1'35.4)
5. Neukirchner (Ducati) 1'36.4
6. Abe (Yamaha) 1'36.4
7. Clementi (Ducati) 1'36.6
8. Rolfo (Ducati SC) 1'36.6
9. Borciani (Ducati) 1'36.7
10. Foret (Suzuki) 1'36.9
Qatar Test Unofficial Times:
1. Haga (Yamaha) 2'00.5
2. Pitt (Yamaha) 2'00.8
3. Fabrizio (Honda) 2'01.3
4. Chili (Honda) 2'01.4
Superbike World Championship
1 Troy Corser AUS Suzuki GSXR 1000 Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra
3 Norick Abe JPN Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor France - IPONE
4 Alex Barros BRA Honda CBR 1000RR Team Klaffi Honda
7 Pierfrancesco Chili ITA Honda CBR 1000RR D.F.X. Treme
8 Ivan Clementi ITA Ducati 999 R Team Pedercini
9 Chris Walker GBR Kawasaki ZX10R PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse
10 Fonsi Nieto ESP Kawasaki ZX10R PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse 2
11 Ruben Xaus ESP Ducati 999 R Sterilgarda - Berik
13 Vittorio Iannuzzo ITA Suzuki GSXR 1000 Celani Team Suzuki Italia
15 Fabien Foret FRA Suzuki GSXR 1000 Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra
16 S,bastien Gimbert FRA Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor France - IPONE
18 Craig Jones GBR PETRONAS FP1 Foggy PETRONAS Racing
19 Lucio Pedercini ITA Ducati 999 R Team Pedercini
20 Marco Borciani ITA Ducati 999 R Sterilgarda - Berik
21 Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati 999 R Ducati Xerox Team
31 Karl Muggeridge AUS Honda CBR 1000RR Winston Ten Kate Honda
38 Shinichi Nakatomi JPN Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor France - IPONE
41 Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor Italia
44 Roberto Rolfo ITA Ducati 999 R Team Ducati SC - Caracchi
52 James Toseland GBR Honda CBR 1000RR Winston Ten Kate Honda
55 Regis Laconi FRA Kawasaki ZX10R PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse
57 Lorenzo Lanzi ITA Ducati 999 R Ducati Xerox Team
71 Yukio Kagayama JPN Suzuki GSXR 1000 Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra
76 Max Neukirchner GER Ducati 999 R Team Pedercini
84 Michel Fabrizio ITA Honda CBR 1000RR D.F.X. Treme
88 Andrew Pitt AUS Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor Italia
99 Steve Martin AUS PETRONAS FP1 Foggy PETRONAS Racing
116 Franco Battaini ITA Kawasaki ZX10R Team Bertocchi
Supersport World Championship
3 Katsuaki Fujiwara JPN Honda CBR 600RR Megabike Honda Team
6 Mauro Sanchini ITA Yamaha YZF R6 RG Team
7 Maxime Berger FRA Kawasaki ZX6RR Team Gil Motor Sport
8 Stephane Chambon FRA Kawasaki ZX6RR Team Gil Motor Sport
11 Kevin Curtain AUS Yamaha YZF R6 Yamaha Motor Germany
12 Javier Fores ESP Yamaha YZF R6 SLM Racing
15 Andrea Berta ITA Yamaha YZF R6 SLM Racing
16 Sebastien Charpentier FRA Honda CBR 600RR Winston Ten Kate Honda
17 Miguel Praia POR Honda CBR 600RR Team Parkalgar
21 Chris Peris CAN Yamaha YZF R6 MOTO 1 - Yamaha - Bikersdays
22 Kai Borre Andersen NOR Suzuki GSX600R Team Hoegee Suzuki
23 Broc Parkes AUS Yamaha YZF R6 Yamaha Motor Germany 25 Tatu Lauslehto FIN Honda CBR 600RR Dark Dog Stiggy Motorsports 27 Tom Tunstall GBR Yamaha YZF R6 Hardinge Bridgeport
32 Yoann Tiberio FRA Honda CBR 600RR Megabike Honda Team
34 Didier Van Keymeulen BEL Yamaha YZF R6 MOTO 1 - Yamaha - Bikersdays
37 William De Angelis ITA Honda CBR 600RR Intermoto Czech Klaffi
38 Gregory Leblanc FRA Honda CBR 600RR Vazy Racing Team
45 Gianluca Vizziello ITA Yamaha YZF R6 Team Lorenzini by Leoni
54 Kenan Sofuoglu TUR Honda CBR 600RR Winston Ten Kate Honda
55 Massimo Roccoli ITA Yamaha YZF R6 Team Lorenzini by Leoni
57 Luka Nedog SLO Ducati 749 R Team Ducati SC - Caracchi
58 Tomas Miksovsky CZE Honda CBR 600RR Intermoto Czech Klaffi
60 Vladimir Ivanov RUS Yamaha YZF R6 Vector Racing Team
68 David Forner Garcia ESP Yamaha YZF R6 Tati Team Beaujolais Racing
69 Gianluca Nannelli ITA Yamaha YZF R6 Edo Racing
73 Christian Zaiser AUT Ducati 749 R LBR Ducati Racing
75 Joshua Brookes AUS Ducati 749 R Team Ducati SC - Caracchi
77 Barry Veneman NED Suzuki GSX600R Team Hoegee Suzuki
88 Julien Enjolras FRA Yamaha YZF R6 Tati Team Beaujolais Racing
94 David Checa ESP Yamaha YZF R6 Yamaha - GMT 94
116 Johan Stigefelt SWE Honda CBR 600RR Dark Dog Stiggy Motorsports
121 Alessio Aldrovandi ITA Honda CBR 600RR CRS Grand Prix
127 Robbin Harms DEN Honda CBR 600RR Stiggy Motorsports
145 Sebastien LeGrelle BEL Honda CBR 600RR tba
Superstock 1000cc FIM Cup
5 Riccardo Chiarello ITA Kawasaki ZX10R Team Lightspeed Kawasaki
8 Loic Napoleone FRA Suzuki GSXR 1000 Celani Team Suzuki Italia
9 Luca Scassa ITA MV Agusta F4 Team EVR Corse Ormeni Racing
10 Giuseppe Natalini ITA Yamaha YZF R1 Team Trasimeno
11 Dennis Sacchetti ITA Kawasaki ZX10R PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse
12 Leonardo Biliotti GER MV Agusta F4 Team EVR Corse Ormeni Racing
14 Mauro Belliero ITA Honda CBR 1000RR Team MCR
15 Matteo Baiocco ITA Yamaha YZF R1 Team Umbria Bike
16 Enrique Rocamora ESP Yamaha YZF R1 RG Team
17 Cedric Tangre FRA tba Team Yohann Motor Sport
18 Eric Van Bael BEL tba SRC Racing Team
21 Leon Bovee NED Suzuki GSXR 1000 Piet Geluk Racing Team
24 Marko Jerman SLO Suzuki GSXR 1000 MD Team Jerman
28 Sepp Vermonden BEL Suzuki GSXR 1000 Racing Dirk Van Mol
31 Mario Giuseppe Barone ITA MV Agusta F4 GiMotorsport
33 Sheridan Morais RSA Suzuki GSXR 1000 EMS Racing
34 Mark Pollock IRL Suzuki GSXR 1000 EMS Racing
35 Allard Kerhoven NED Suzuki GSXR 1000 Oliveira Suzuki
40 Herv, Gantner SUI Yamaha YZF R1 Ticino Hosting Team
41 Nick Henderson AUS tba Beowulf Motorsport.com
42 Alex Martinez Mas ESP Kawasaki ZX10R Team PMS Corse
44 Roberto Lunadei ITA Yamaha YZF R1 44 Racing Team
45 Gianluca Rapicavoli ITA MV Agusta F4 GiMotorsport
47 Richard Cooper GBR Honda CBR 1000RR MS Racing
53 Alessandro Polita ITA Suzuki GSXR 1000 Celani Team Suzuki Italia
55 Olivier Depoorter BEL Yamaha YZF R1 Autophone Racing
57 Ilario Dionisi ITA Yamaha YZF R1 Team Trasimeno
69 David Fouloy FRA Suzuki GSXR 1000 TKR
71 Petter Solli NOR Yamaha YZF R1 Solli Racing
73 Simone Saltarelli ITA Kawasaki ZX10R Team PMS Corse
74 Jason Perez USA Suzuki GSXR 1000 HP Racing
77 Claudio Corti ITA Yamaha YZF R1 Team Lorenzini by Leoni
82 Giuseppe Cedroni ITA Honda CBR 1000RR Team MCR
86 Ayrton Badovini ITA MV Agusta F4 Biassono Racing Team
96 Matej Smrz CZE Honda CBR 1000RR MS Racing
99 Danilo Dell'omo ITA Suzuki GSXR 1000 Team Alstare Cruciani
Source: Motorcycle USA