The first race of the 2005 World Superbike season kicks off this weekend at Qatar, but following the recent preseason test at the same track there could be quite a few surprises in store for race fans.
The Alstare Suzuki pairing of Yukio Kagayama
and Troy Corser
came out on top of the test with the WSBK 'new-boy' Yuki-san being the surprise fastest rider. The pair never left the top of the time sheets over the test, suggesting the all new 2005 GSX-R1000 K5 machine is likely to be quite strong in Saturday's races.
Yukio was happy with his performance in the test but pointed out that he still had more to come for the races as he is still not totally comfortable with the Pirelli tyres.
“At the moment, I am still learning about the Pirellis and the limit so I know there is more to come from me,” he commented. “For the race, my plan is the same as always: Head down, full gas and ride my maximum. It is the only way I know!"
Yuki's team-mate and former 1996 WSBK champion Troy Corser
is another hot favourite for the first round, constantly leading the time sheets at the test until the dying stages, he has the advantage over Yuki of experience of the WSBK riders.
"There are still a couple of sections on the track where I know I can go quicker, so Yukio had better watch out!” commented Corser at the end of the test. “Each day the track has felt different, so it's been really good to have some understanding about how it behaves. If it changes next week, hopefully we'll have the info to respond quickly and keep ahead of the rest. Here's to it!"
Another surprise performance came from the Spaniard Jose Luis Cardoso. Former Yamaha 500GP rider and 2004 Spanish National Formula Extreme champion, also on a Yamaha, Cardoso enjoyed his fair share of time at the top of the time sheets, never leaving the top three over the two day test.
The DFXtreme Sterilgarda rider was consistently the top Yamaha, beating the likes of Andrew Pitt, Noriyuki Haga, Sebastien Gimbert and Norick Abe. Having a great deal of experience on the R1 will give him an early advantage that may last to the races next weekend as the other Yamaha teams try to find speed as they play catch-up.
The Xerox factory Ducati team had their work cut out at the test with only fourth place being managed by either Regis Laconi
or defending champion James Toseland during the test.