Preview – Lausitzring
8 September 2005
The lavishly appointed venue of the Eurospeedway Lausitzring in the far East of Germany returns to the SBK calendar for the 2005 season, having hosted races on two previous occasions.
The staggering proportions of the grandstands, which ring the Indy style oval section of the track, dominate the backdrop for the tenth round of the championship, offering unrivalled aspects across the whole 4.265km circuit.
The circuit itself, one of the most tortuous on the calendar, offers riders six left and four right hand corners, plus a back straight of incomparable width and scale.
In the battle for the riders' championship, Ten Kate's Chris Vermeulen enjoyed his first double win of the 2005 season at Assen last weekend, but must win virtually all of the remaining races to seriously challenge points' leader Troy Corser.
The Suzuki star finished off the podium for the first time this season at Assen, but a pair of fourth places has kept his advantage over Vermeulen at a still solid 86-points, with a possible 150-points left for any rider who wins every race.
The pair will have two less rivals to worry about this weekend with the news that the factory Ducati Xerox team will be without their highest-placed 2005 rider, Regis Laconi - after a nasty highside in qualifying - while PSG-1 Kawasaki rider Chris Walker misses the race after his double arm break, caused by a collision with wild-card rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh.
Walker looks unlikely to be replaced, although team-mate Mauro Sanchini will be in attendance as usual for the PSG-1 team, but outgoing Ducati world champion James Toseland will not be alone.
That's because Lorenzo Lanzi gets a step up to the factory team for this race at least, as Laconi heals. After some potent rides for his regular SC Caracchi Ducati team recently, and a good test at Eurospeedway Lausitzring recently on his regular 999RS, a weekend on a full factory 999F05 will be a fascinating prospect for him and the watching world.
But while Lanzi will be dreaming of a podium, one man who has had five of them in the last five races is Yamaha Motor Italia's Noriyuki Haga. With Laconi's absence, two further good rides will take him to third place overall, even before the final two races at Imola and Magny Cours in early October.
Haga's countryman Yukio Kagayama continued his recent up and down form at the previous Assen event, but at Eurospeedway Lausitz, he will be all out to take his first podium since race one at Monza, some 12 races ago.
Of all the current privately entered riders in the championship with the greatest expectation of a good result, few can be as keen to take a podium finish this weekend as local hero Max Neukirchner. Already a podium finisher in his rookie season, the Klaffi Honda rider has prior knowledge of Lausitz and that may be a great help in front of his German fans.
His vastly experienced team-mate Pierfrancesco Chili is still searching for that elusive machine set-up that will allow him to score a podium finish, while Renegade honda's Ben Bostrom hopes to be at near full fitness for the Eurospeedway Lausitz race, after injury and illness conspired to make Assen an agonising memory, despite his good points score in race two.
A GP star of years past, Ralf Waldmann, makes a popular wild card entrant on his Alpha Technik Honda van Zon CBR1000RR.
No matter which of the current SBK riders take the wins at Eurospeedway Lausitz, it will be their first successes there, as none has taken a previous race win at this circuit.
Meanwhile, after a superb qualifying and Superpole for Steve Martin at Assen, and two good rides from both himself and his team-mate Garry McCoy, Eurospeedway Lausitz will hold little fear for the FP-1 riders, despite its succession of power-sapping low gear corner exits.
In the World Supersport Championship, Winston Ten Kate Honda's Sebastien Charpentier has already been crowned, but behind him the battle for the runner-up, and the top five places, are more closely contested than ever.
Team-mate Katsuaki Fujiwara and Yamaha Motor Germany's Kevin Curtain are each previous winners of this race and are currently best placed for finishing second, with Curtain trailing by only five points.
Megabike Honda rider Fabien Foret and team-mate, Michel Fabrizio are fourth and fifth, with Foret the only rider outside the ranks of the Ten Kate team to take a race victory in 2005.