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May 11, 2002

Benelli's Back In World Superbike At Monza, And Praying For Wet Races

From a press release:<BR><BR>Benelli returns to racing at historic Monza<BR><BR>After their unfortunate problems at Valencia earlier this year, which resulted in Benelli missing the last three rounds, Benelli Sport returned to World Superbike competition at Monza.<BR><BR>"It's good to be back!" declared Team owner Andrea Merloni. "We have solved all the problems we had in Valencia. The reliability is back although we are a little disappointed with the results, we were faster here in testing on the 29th of April."<BR><BR>Despite being given tyres specially made by Dunlop for Monza, the team struggled with severe chatter in qualifying. Peter Goddard managed to qualify in 24th place on Friday.<BR><BR>"Maybe it's the tyres," said Merloni. "Or maybe it's a combination of suspension, tyres and even the weather, but we expected to be two seconds faster here today. We need another dry qualifying session to get a good grid position, unfortunately we can't rely on the weather forecast, in Italy they are a lottery!"<BR><BR>In wet qualifying on Saturday, Goddard and the Benelli were competitive, ending up eighth-fastest in the session.<BR><BR>"We went really well in the wet and it felt good to be up in the top ten," said Goddard. "The problem is we have been going in the wrong direction for our dry set-up. Now we've worked out where we've been going wrong, and if we have a dry free practice in the morning we'll be able to try out our latest dry settings."<BR><BR>Unfortunately for the team, Friday's dry times, when Benelli were still struggling, have decided the grid positions. This leaves Goddard with a mountain to climb as he starts Sunday's two races from back in 24th on grid.<BR><BR>Team owner Andrea Merloni admitted he was hoping for a pair of wet races, "We've got a great wet set up and today proved the potential of the Tornado. This is essentially our first race of the season and we've got a lot of work still to do. We seem to have found the problems with our dry set up, we'll have a chance to test our direction if it is dry during Sunday morning's free practice. Our engine is better than our grid position. We want to get 100% out of our bike but it's going to take lots more work and commitment."<BR><BR>Sig. Merloni expressed his confidence in his rider, "Peter is a talented rider and his performance in the wet has proved he has what it takes to race with the best riders in World Superbike racing."<BR><BR>Away from racing there was good news for Benelli, the beautiful Tornado road bike is in full production and Benelli expect to start the first deliveries to dealers in a little over a week.<BR><BR>"We already have many orders for the new road bike," confirmed Merloni. "That makes me very happy."<BR><BR>Reaction to the Benelli Tornado has been positive since the first time the bike was shown to the public, and the factory have managed to bring the bike from prototype to production while remaining faithful to the original design. The bike looks set to become an instant Italian classic!<BR>