20 April 2005
Preview - Valencia.
Of the five top Honda entrants in the field, Ben Bostrom with the Renegade Honda team will see his Valencia results most likely influenced by machinery, as his team continues to catch up time after an unavoidably late start to their 2005 preparations.
Thanks to four strong points scoring rides in real race conditions, Yamaha Motor France rider Norick Abe has secured the status of top Yamaha rider at this point, sitting sixth, just ahead of the Yamaha Motor Italia rider Andrew Pitt. A former World Supersport champion himself, and yet another Aussie, now plying his trade in the new-look Superbike series, Pitt has impressed with his hard riding style and overall commitment.
A double no-score from Pitt's team-mate Noriyuki Haga at Phillip Island has dropped him down the order to 11th, while Sebastien Gimbert, riding riding alongside Abe, is a true star of pre-season qualifying, but has yet to find his feet in race conditions. A return to the scene of some of his extreme pre-season competitiveness may be just what the Frenchman requires to get back on terms.
Yamaha Sterilgarda's Jose Luis Cardoso will be looking to the familiar setting of Valencia to score his first points since joining the championship. His fellow Spaniard, Fonsi Nieto riding the SC Caracchi Ducati had a superb ride to fifth in the aggregate race at Phillip Island, securing for himself a top ten championship placing thus far, in what is also his rookie WSBK season. His team-mate, Ducati's favoured son Lorenzo Lanzi, is yet another rider attempting to overturn some bad luck and show his true abilities in the biggest class of Superbike racing there is.
Chris Walker and Mauro Sanchini of the PSG-1 Kawasaki team look like battling it out for supremacy in the ZX-10 camp, with Walker the pre-season favourite in this internal battle, yet suffering some outrageous misfortune thus far. The Bertocchi Kawasaki squad, comprising Giovanni Bussei and Ivan Clementi, are also capable of upsets on machinery supplied by the fourth major Japanese manufacturer represented in the championship this year.
A previous version of the unique and technically innovative Petronas three-cylinder machinery, similar to that utilised by Aussie duo Garry McCoy and Steve Martin in 2005, enjoyed some success at Valencia last year. It will be difficult to emulate this once more, given the huge increase in the numbers of potential winning machines on the grid, but in McCoy and Martin, Petronas has two battling competitors, ready to take any opportunity that comes their way. Also with new engine developments ready for Valencia in the form of a higher revving motor, and new exhaust system to cope with the added heat, the team hope to be able to challenge its competitors down the straights as well as round the corners.
In World Supersport Winston Ten Kate Honda rider Sebastien Charpentier scored the win at Phillip Island, to take the lead in the championship from his team-mate Katsuaki Fujiwara. The Honda duo have been the best of the bunch so far, each with a win, but Yamaha Motor Germany pilot Kevin Curtain has been a strong force throughout the early championship stages. Team Italia Megabike Honda runners Fabien Foret and Michel Fabrizio, are another talented pairing, the experience of 2003 WSS champion Foret contrasting and complimenting the exuberance of 2003 European Superstock champion Fabrizio. After a difficult start to the year, Jurgen van den Goorbergh on the lead SL Ducati 749 got his season off to a better footing with a fifth place finish in Australia, at one of his favourite circuits.
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