Apr 18, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR><BR>Round 4 – Sugo (Japan), 21 April 2002<BR><BR>PREVIEW<BR><BR>After Australia and South Africa, the third successive fly-away race in the 2002 World Superbike Championship takes place this coming weekend at the Sugo Sportsland circuit, near Sendai in the north of Japan. All eyes will be on reigning champion Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) to see whether he can extend his sensational early-season run of six wins on the run and equal the all-time record holder, Doug Polen, who notched up a seven-race winning streak for Ducati back in 1991. The championship leader will be up against two unknown factors around the 3.737 km Sugo track this weekend: Japanese ‘wild-card' riders, who always go well here, and tyre performance.<BR><BR>Bayliss and Sugo have not exactly had the best of relations in the two years the Australian has raced here. In 2000, he failed to complete a lap after twice being knocked off by Japanese riders at the first corner, while last year he could only manage four points after struggling all weekend with tyre problems. "I'll certainly be trying to get a couple of wins this weekend to keep my run going, but I know it's going to be difficult. Every time I come here, I look for a good weekend, but it just hasn't happened …. yet!" declared Troy. "I really like the Sugo circuit, it's up and down, not exactly like Kyalami, where I won two weeks ago, but very undulating. I know it's going to be a lot better this year than it was in 2001, for lots of reasons, not just because of the tyres".<BR><BR>Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) continued his promising early season form at Kyalami with a third and a second place, but is under no illusions about the task ahead this weekend in Japan. "I would like to come away from here with as many points as possible", he declared. "I like the track but it's very difficult and the Japanese riders always go well here. We were unlucky last year, but I'm sure things will be different this time around. I'd like to be on the podium, but the most important thing is to work well for the race in practice and qualifying and then do your best on Sunday to score as many points as possible. There are a lot of races to go and the real championship starts in Europe".<BR><BR>Last year at Sugo Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) out-performed everyone except the Japanese riders and the 27-year-old Californian will be hoping to shine in a race that sees him reunited with his brother Eric for the first time since Laguna Seca. "I'm more excited about this race at Sugo than at any other track. The tyres work really well here and I've forgotten what it's like to stand on top of the box", said Bostrom. "The wild-card riders will make it interesting as always, because none of the WSBK regulars ever win here. Last year we came very close to getting on the podium, so maybe it's our turn now. I'm feeling really fit, I've been hanging out with my brother for a couple of weeks and just can't wait to go here".<BR><BR> <BR><BR>THE SUGO CIRCUIT<BR><BR>Sugo was founded in 1975 as a test-track by Yamaha and since then has hosted a series of major sports events, such as All-Japan Roadracing Championship, and other international bike and car meetings. It first held a round of the WSBK championship in 1988 and has continued the tradition every year since. Sugo is located 300 km north-east of Tokyo and the complex also contains a hotel, an athletics track and a motocross circuit. Japanese riders have taken victory in every race held here since 1995 when Corser and Fogarty shared the wins for Ducati.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>CIRCUIT RECORDS<BR><BR>Lap Record: Tamada (Honda) 1'29.522 (2001)<BR>Superpole: Tamada (Honda) 1'28.797<BR>Qualifying: Tamada (Honda) 1'28.658 (2001).<BR>