As BMW continues to go from strength-to-strength in the 2010 World Superbike Championship, two-time champion Troy Corser
has vowed to fight Althea Ducati rival Carlos Checa
all the way for third spot in the riders' standings come season's end – and then go all-out to accomplish his final career goal by re-writing history with one last crown for a third different manufacturer in 2011.
Having made solid progress throughout the campaign to-date with the BMW S1000RR – and having unquestionably made optimum use of it – Corser stunned his rivals by reprising his erstwhile 'Mr. Superpole' sobriquet in San Marino last time out to snatch the top spot in qualifying by the staggering margin of just over half a second, and more than a second ahead of team-mate Ruben Xaus.
That kind of form, allied to supreme consistency – as one of only three competitors to have finished inside the points all year, alongside championship leader max Biaggi and, perhaps surprisingly, Leon Haslam's Alstare Suzuki team-mate Sylvain Guintoli – and podiums both at Misano and in the earlier Italian round at Monza a month-and-a-half previously leave the Australian sixth in the title chase with five meetings remaining, and within striking distance of the third spot that a whole host of riders are currently coveting. The New South Wales native is confident it can be his.
“We've done a lot of testing away from the racetrack – I've probably done about 3,000 or 4,000km – and we're really making some good steps with the chassis and the engine,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “That's obviously transforming over to the race weekends for us now in that we can turn up with a bike that's much easier to set up; before we were struggling just trying to get the bike set up as well as testing stuff. Now we're not testing stuff, so we're just setting up the bike for the race, which is nice and lets me concentrate a lot more on that.
“Misano was the first time that the bike has felt pretty perfect for me; up until that weekend really, we were always a little bit slower than the other guys on a race tyre and we'd have to put on a soft one to do the same time – but there I could go out and do one lap and I could do the time I wanted to. When it's like that, it's easier, it's much better and it's much more relaxing and obviously your confidence goes up because it's all working over one lap. It was good; I sort of felt like my old self again in Superpole, and hopefully we can keep doing it over the rest of the year.
“The track temperature there was very high – like 58 degrees – and the tyres just wore out really fast, but we were doing the same times as everybody else so it was all good. In the past that (tyre wear as the race progresses) has been a trouble, but we've improved the rear grip on the bike now so when there's less grip from the tyre, the bike actually has more grip itself.
“Electronics, I think, is the biggest thing now for us – traction control and wheelie control – and obviously they're always developing and getting more power out of the bike. Traction control and engine-braking is really, really important now in World Superbikes – it only makes a difference of two or three tenths a lap, but that's enough to put you in the race. It's really competitive, and if you're two tenths off the pace, you're out of the race, so that makes it really important to get the bike set-up right and we've just got to keep working at that.
“Brno this weekend should be another good track for us. I think last year it was the best result that we had, and I led the race for a few laps there as well. That showed that the bike already was not too bad there, and it's a lot better now so I'm going for another pole there and hoping to win a couple of races if we can – and hopefully we can take that [form] on to next year.
“[Regarding P3 in the championship], I'm confident. I looked at who's running where in the championship, where they've finished in the last few races and how their season has gone – and we're definitely more consistent. We're only 25 points off third place, so it's only a few race results I need to get in front of probably Checa, I reckon – me and Checa are going to race it out for third place in the championship, I think. We'll see what happens with Jonny Rea; he's a bit up-and-down, but if he's consistent I think he'll be in the race with us too. If we can finish third, it would be like winning the championship, I think, for BMW.”
There is, however 'like winning the championship' and actually 'winning the championship', and if the former is the more realistic target for 2010, then the latter looks by no means out of the question in 2011. Having admitted back at the end of last year that he has set himself one last challenge prior to hanging up his motorcycling helmet at the end of a long and illustrious career [see separate story – click here
], Corser is quietly optimistic that if the present rate of development continues, he just might achieve it.
“You've always got to set goals,” the 38-year-old reasoned. “When I first went to BMW their goal was to win the world championship, and I pretty much said to them 'it's going to take three or four years to actually get the bike up to that'. This is year two pretty much – and we did a year of testing before – so I think for next year we'll be ready obviously to start winning races and being consistent every weekend. You don't necessarily have to win the races, but as long as you're consistent and on the podium, I think it's enough to win the championship.”