25 May 2006
Preview – Silverstone.
Thus far the most consistent, and highest scoring private rider is former MotoGP runner Roberto Rolfo, now at Ducati SC Caracchi. Almost crowned champion in the 250 GP class in 2003, Rolfo has powered his booming vee-twin to a personal best of fifth in Australia race one, and for him Silverstone will be another new experience.
A talented top ten is completed by Yamaha Motor France rider Norick Abe in ninth place, with the top Kawasaki runner Fonsi Nieto - only three points behind Abe.
Such has been the increased level of talent and equipment in World Superbike this season that many big names still reside outside the top ten places overall. Michel Fabrizio (DFX Treme Honda), Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Berik Ducati), Chris Walker (PSG-1 Kawasaki), Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki) and Karl Muggeridge (Winston Honda Ten Kate) are currently, after eight races, separated by only six points.
For Walker, Silverstone is a home race, and with huge local support 'The Stalker' will be going all out to turn the Kawasaki's obvious potential into a solid gold podium result.
One front-running name missing so far is that of Corser's team-mate Yukio Kagayama, currently in an artificially low 16th place overall. The Japanese came within half a lap of winning race one in Qatar, before being hit by Haga, and has suffered further back luck since - but Yuki enjoys any race in the UK, having been a leading BSB rider before his move up to World Superbike, and will be looking to reverse his fortunes this weekend.
For the Foggy Petronas squad, based in Burton-Upon-Trent, Silverstone is a short cross-country hop away, and the tight nature of some parts of the track will be good news for Steve Martin and Craig Jones. Local boy Jones will have his first chance to impress in front of his home crowd and, after many years of UK competition, knows all the intimate secrets of the Silverstone track.
British fans, robbed of the chance to see Pierfrancesco Chili on track, due to injury, will nonetheless be able to get their programmes signed by the most experienced rider in SBK in the pre-race autograph sessions. Ebullient Italian Gianluca Nannelli once more replaces Chili, while former WSS rider Josh Brookes takes over the Bertocchi Kawasaki ride vacated by Franco Battaini.
Meanwhile, Silverstone will also host the second open paddock of the season, giving the public the maximum chance of meeting their favourite riders and getting a treasured autograph along the way. There will be two open paddock sessions, one on Thursday 25th May (from 2pm) and one on Saturday 27th May (from 12.30pm to 12.45pm).
On Thursday, in anticipation of the forthcoming World Cup football competition, key World Superbike riders will also don their national colours for the 'Silverstone World Cup'. This crowd-pleasing contest is a 'beat the keeper' penalty competition, against the clock. The 'Silverstone World Cup' will take place in the middle of the circuit, close to the paddock.
Until the previous Monza round, 2005 World Supersport champion Sebastien Charpentier was in danger of providing a virtual whitewash in this normally highly competitive class - but it was not to be in Italy. Third for Charpentier, after a jump-start penalty and a further excursion up an escape road, seemingly left the way open for his biggest challenger so far, Yamaha Motor Germany rider Kevin Curtain.
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