Off the back of four consecutive top ten finishes for BMW in the 2009 World Superbike Championship (WSBK), Troy Corser has his sights firmly set on conquering both pole position and the podium between now and season's end - but the real improvement, he vows, will come next year.

Corser and BMW made something of a breakthrough at Brno at the end of July, battling their way into the third stage of the knock-out Superpole qualifying session for the first time in 2009. He went on to take the chequered flag a season-high fifth in race one, following that up with a second successive top ten finish in race two, having briefly led both of them off the line.

That impressive progress - building on a previous best result of eighth, achieved in the Phillip Island curtain-raiser back at the beginning of March - would be maintained over the summer break, as Corser went on to equal his sixth spot in the Brno Superpole at the N?rburgring, popularly on BMW's home turf. A brace of top eight finishes on race day subsequently further underlined the leap up the pecking order the German outfit has made of late.

"The BMW engineers are doing a great job," enthused the experienced Australian, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. "At Brno we had a pretty good result - the bosses were there and they were happy with how it went - and then fortunately we had a six-week break in the middle of the season, which helped us a lot. The guys had a lot of time to go back and analyse everything, and we came out for the second half of the year having made big steps.

"We went to the next one [at the N?rburgring] and we made another step forward. Obviously for BMW's home race it was fantastic; in Superpole I was second in [the second knock-out phase of] qualifying, and in the races I was running at the same lap times as everybody else. They're not really worried about first, second, third, fourth, fifth positions - it's just about being on the same lap times as everybody else, and then we'll be there for next year. The goal is still next year - we're not losing our focus - but hopefully we can get some strong results in the last few rounds."

From lining up just 17th on the grid in front of his home fans Down Under almost seven months ago - more than 1.8 seconds shy of the leading pace - it is clear that BMW has come on in leaps and bounds as the season has advanced, with Corser pointing to developments to the frame, suspension, linkages and swing-arm and particularly the engine.

Now, he affirms, with potentially extra facilities available to the WSBK effort following the Bavarian manufacturer's impending withdrawal from Formula 1, the target is to unlock the door to the rostrum at which he has been knocking in recent outings, as he and the team prepare to turn up the wick another notch or two in 2010.

"The engine has probably been the biggest area we've worked on," explained the 37-year-old, "which has made the bike a lot easier to ride. We just had too much power in the wrong areas, and now we've got the power pretty much where we want it to be - it feels like a normal bike and race engine now, so that's made it a lot easier for me and for the mechanics to understand what is the next step.

"It's not just about outright power on the bike, though; it's about using it and the electronics that we're working on now, for traction control and fuelling and stuff like that, which we really haven't touched at all because we've just been trying to understand the engine without any electronic assistance. Now we're starting to work on little bits and pieces to gain those last couple of tenths.

"[In terms of] outright money and budget, [BMW leaving F1 will make] maybe not that much difference really, but the resources that we're going to have available for the team will only improve. We've used their wind tunnel test facility a few times this year, but they've normally got the car sitting in there working every day, so if that's not going to be there anymore we might work a bit more on aerodynamics, and then obviously the dynos and the technicians working on the car pretty much won't have a car to work on, so we might bring them on-board and teach them the bike side and learn something off them as well.

"Our first goal really is to try to get a pole position; I know I can do it as a rider, and if we can get the bike with the grip and the tyres at the right time, I think we can hopefully get one of those before the end of the year. We'll just take it as it comes as we've been doing all year - just turning up and doing as well as we can in practice and qualifying, and then going out and doing the race and seeing what happens.

"We're getting closer and closer to the front, so I'm hoping we can get at least a podium before the end of the year - it's not that far away, I don't think. The next race at Imola might be a little bit difficult for us just because of the layout, but I think at Magny-Cours and Portimao the bike should be pretty good."

On the subject of 2010, a new addition to the motorcycling ranks will be Moto2, scheduled to run on the same bill as MotoGP and being marketed as something of a rival to WSBK and the feeder World Supersport series. In characteristically forthright fashion, Corser admits that he cannot really see the attraction of the much-debated new category.

"The GP2 class in the GPs on 600s for me is a bit of a strange one," the New South Wales native confessed, "because Supersport is pretty much the same thing but cheaper. For someone to ride a 600 doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be fast on a big bike, and we've proven that with [riders in] Supersport jumping onto a Superbike in WSB.

"I think obviously the noise and the emissions and all that sort of stuff probably have a big part to do with it - running four-strokes and getting rid of the two - but it's a shame, because the 250cc was actually a very good training ground for lots of riders and quite affordable. I think a four-stroke 600 is going to be a lot more expensive to run, and there are a lot more parts there. We'll see, though - a change might be what it needs, but I think it's going to take a little bit away from the class itself."

Looking beyond 2010, finally, Corser has been linked to a future crossover from two wheels to four, much as compatriot and fellow former World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss has done with V8 racing back in his homeland. Whilst not willing to commit to anything for the time being at least, the 1996 and 2005 title-winner - who got behind the wheel of Nick Heidfeld's BMW-Sauber F1 machine at the N?rburgring back in July [see separate story - click here] - did drop hints that the end of his illustrious career on bikes might not be too far away.

"I've done the odd car race here and there," he acknowledged. "I did one a few years back with Lamborghini, and got my first podium in my first car race ever. I drive go-karts just for training or for fun when I'm out in Australia or over here in the UK. It's something I enjoy, and four wheels is definitely a lot safer than when you're out there on a motorbike trying to go fast.

"We'll see what happens; I'm not getting any younger, and it doesn't hurt any more hitting the ground now, but it just takes longer to repair and get ready to get back on it, whereas in a car you can afford to spin and slide and nine times out of ten you'll start the car up and drive out of it. I've got a couple more years with BMW on the bike, and they've already expressed some interest in maybe doing some car racing with me to get some publicity from coming off bikes into cars with them, so I'm really happy to have the opportunity to do that."

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