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Apr 8, 2002

HMC Ducati's Version Of AMA Races At California Speedway, Aprilia's Version Of MotoGP Reality And HM Plant's Tale From World Superbike At Kyalami

From a press release:<BR><BR>Race Report<BR>AMA Chevy Trucks Superbike Round 2<BR>DateApril 6, 2002<BR>CircuitFontana International Speedway, California<BR><BR>Chandler fourth in Fontana<BR><BR>The cold front that moved into Fontana yesterday worsened ceasing all racing activities until late into the afternoon. Rider Doug Chandler had no opportunity to better his eighth place position from first qualifying as the AMA altered today's program eliminating the second qualifying session, opting for a 20 minute warm-up - which Chandler ran fastest - followed by the first race. Despite the second row start, Chandler finished in fourth place, a position he grasped early in the race and held firm till the end.<BR><BR>Racing was fast and furious up front and Chandler stayed right there, fighting for a podium finish, until the remaining few laps.<BR><BR>"I was thinking we could get on the podium, a tall order considering this is my first time on this track", said Chandler. It was also his first race on the Ducati, competing against riders with additional testing time. "I really feel we'll do better tomorrow after we make a few small changes. I felt comfortable with the pace early in the race, but the front guys got me in the slower traffic, eventually getting away. I really enjoyed the battle with Jamie [Hacking] for the fourth place until he crashed.<BR><BR>"Today was a good start, but tomorrow will be better."<BR><BR><BR><BR>Second Race Report<BR><BR>AMA Chevy Trucks Superbike Round 2<BR>DateApril 7, 2002<BR>CircuitFontana International Speedway, California<BR><BR>HMC Ducati rider Doug Chandler was robbed of a podium finish when a crash forced a red flag on lap 25 of the 28 lap race at Fontana Speedway. Chandler came back from an early race set-back to close a 5 second gap to a 0.6 second gap in three laps, finishing in fourth position. The Californian was ready to round up Mat Mladin and Eric Bostrom when the red flag appeared, but with 80% of the race complete, the AMA was justified to refuse a restart.<BR><BR>Mat Mladin was watching his prey descending through his team pit board and the reigning Champion was quoted several times saying: "Doug would have probably smoked both of us. Definitely me anyway."<BR><BR>"I feel pretty confident I would have got both of them," said Chandler. "I didn't expect to catch them so quickly and with three laps left I decided to hold back and wait for the last lap. Eric and Mat began to battle between themselves so I thought I'd wait until they had nothing left and make my move. Unfortunately we were short changed.<BR><BR>I had a big moment in the first lap and it took me a while to recover, but the bike was handling so good that it was easy to keep consistent fast laps and fortunately the traffic was light making the going easier. Chandler was lapping in the low 26s right to the last lap, less than a second off Friday's fastest qualifying time.<BR><BR><BR><BR>And now Aprilia's version of Suzuka MotoGP reality, from a press release:<BR><BR>From a press release:<BR><BR>APRILIA NEWS / MOTOGP<BR>2002 MotoGP World Championship - SUZUKA (Japan)<BR>Sunday 7 April 2002<BR><BR>Race 250<BR><BR>Melandri slides in Suzuka downpour. De Puniet's Aprilia third on the podium.<BR><BR>Driving rain on the Suzuka circuit, huge puddles on almost the entire track. An unfortunate day for Marco Melandri who went for a slide on the seventh lap as he was gaining ground. Marco, 11th first time round, had got up to 5th on lap six, making the quickest lap time of the race up to that moment: 1:28.587. Overconfidence, loss of grip at the front, and a dogged attempt to get back into the race. Marco came back in 21st position and went up to 17th. But by now he was 1:20 behind the leaders. Too far to get anywhere near the top. Victory went to the Japanese Miyazaki. Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) was third on the podium.<BR><BR># 3 Marco Melandri (MS APRILIA RACING) - Not Classified - Out, lap 14 -<BR>"I took the very first laps of the race very carefully, then I built up confidence and saw I was making my way up quite easily. Then I came long into a curve which I decided to take in first gear after braking a bit harder. A sharp corner, but I approached it a bit wide and lost control - first the back, then the front, and I was sliding on the ground. I didn't start back immediately, the track officials took some time helping, but I still tried to fight my way up. Some earth had got into the throttle and it wasn't working properly. I'm really sorry because I'd worked hard for today's race: the rain ruined our plans. The slide was an error in a day when it was easy to make mistakes, but also in a day when I didn't want to come in 10th."<BR><BR>Race MotoGP<BR><BR>RS Cube and Régis Laconi come eighth in the new Aprilia project's racing debut. First objective achieved.<BR><BR>The main objective for the RS Cube was to get to the end of its very first race. If possible, up among the first fifteen. This objective was reached with eighth place, and this is a great boost for the technicians and Aprilia, who have put their heart and soul into the creation of the new project. The RS Cube also had its first taste of rain in the morning warm-up. With no previous experience, no references, no tests in the wet. An incredible task for the technicians, who rapidly sought the best configuration for the 2:00 p.m. race.<BR><BR>The great work of the team was assisted by Regis Laconi's intelligent racing style which took the RS3 through to the chequered flag. An important day for the technicians who acquired huge amounts of data to be analysed so that development work can go ahead as quickly as possible.<BR><BR>"There's no doubt about it, I'm pleased with our bike's racing debut", commented Jan Witteveen, the project leader. "We've acquired stacks of data for our development work, so we can look for the best way to start bothering the others. We had no previous experience in the wet, and we didn't have enough data to intervene effectively on mapping the engine. Even so, we did what was needed and completing the race has given us some extremely important experience."<BR><BR># 55 Regis Laconi - (MS APRILIA RACING) 8th - "A great result but it was tough work preparing the bike for the race after the first ever sortie in the rain in the morning. The settings changed completely, and the bike was softened to increase its rideability. I got off to a good start, but tried not to push too hard immediately: after a few laps I could really feel the bike, and it was good, so I decided to quicken the pace: I had Harada and Capirossi in front and I wanted to go and get them. I was able to make use of greater speed and managed to pass them, and towards the end I was again able to get my time down to 2:25.9, and thoroughly enjoyed riding the Cube. Having fun riding in the wet is always a great pleasure."<BR><BR><BR><BR>And now a press release from HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing:<BR><BR>Superbike World Championship<BR>Round three: Kyalami, South Africa<BR>Sunday 7 April 2002<BR>Race one<BR><BR>Fifth and sixth place for HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing<BR><BR>HM Plant Ducati rider Neil Hodgson maintained his consistent run of form to take fifth place in the first race at Kyalami today. His team-mate James Toseland continued to show the kind of improvement that has caused many to tip him as a future world champion, when he claimed sixth place behind Hodgson.<BR><BR>During the race, which was won by Troy Bayliss, Hodgson was never in danger of losing his position. Riding in an extremely smooth and controlled manner, the 28-year-old crossed the line over 47 seconds ahead of eighth placed Chris Walker. In fact, the only other rider within 30 seconds of the #100 HM Plant Ducati was James Toseland. <BR><BR>"Obviously I would have liked to make it onto the podium," said Hodgson, "but the eleven points that I got from that race only serve to strengthen my position in the world championship. I enjoyed the race but it was a little frustrating. Edwards forced me wide at one point and that cost me quite a lot of time, but I had a good old dice with Haga and came out on top in the end. This result hasn't done me any harm and I'm still six points clear of Haga in the points and only three behind Bostrom. The HM Plant Ducati and my Dunlop tyres feel spot-on, so I won't really make any changes for race two – I'll just try and wring a bit more out of it."<BR><BR>James Toseland was pleased with his 10 point run: "I equalled my best ever World Superbike finish, so that is a great result for me. Although it was a bit of a lonely race, to finish behind Neil and over eight seconds ahead of the next placed rider is pretty good. The HM Plant Ducati was working really well and I knew that it would do what I asked it to, so I just want to get back out there for race two and see if I can improve some more."