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May 9, 2002

Race Team Previews For This Weekend's Monza World Superbike Round, Including What Eric Bostrom Thinks Of The Pouring Rain

From a Ducati press release:<BR><BR>DUCATI CORSE PRESS INFORMATION<BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR>Round 5 – Monza (Italy), 12 May 2002<BR><BR>PREVIEW<BR>The World Superbike Championship returns to Europe this weekend for round 5 of 13 at the high-speed Monza Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of Milan. The legendary 5.793 km track always sees close, slipstreaming battles for the lead and this year promises more of the same, with all eyes on reigning champion Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada), whose charge towards the 2001 world title began exactly one year ago at this circuit.<BR><BR>Troy has won six of the eight races held so far this year and considers the Monza parkland circuit one of his favourites. "I'm really looking forward to racing at Monza, it's one of my favourite circuits and we got a double win there last year" he declared. "We tested there last week and things went well. I just love the atmosphere and the park makes it really special. This year it's going to be tougher than ever, Colin will be up there and so will Ben, Ruben, Haga and Hodgson after his performance in Japan. There will be five or six guys slipstreaming at the front for a while and then we'll see what happens in the last couple of laps."<BR><BR>Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada), who injured two fingers of his left hand in a crash at the last round in Sugo, comes to Monza after an operation last week to patch up his skin. "I like Monza, it's a great place to race, but it all depends on the weather, which for the moment doesn't look too good for the weekend" declared Ruben. "If it rains then you have to set the bike up both for the wet as well as the dry and in that case you won't see much slipstreaming. My hand feels OK now and I can't wait to start the races on Sunday".<BR><BR>Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M), who celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday, also approaches the Italian WSBK Round in a confident frame of mind. "There are no words to describe Monza and I'm very excited about the race this weekend" declared Ben. "I now feel a lot happier with the set-up after we tested here last week. We changed the steering geometry a bit to make it feel more comfortable and I'll be able to fine-tune it on Friday and Saturday in qualifying. I really enjoy the Monza track, with its long straights, left-right chicanes and the strong exit from the Parabolica curve and it's just a fantastic atmosphere riding through the trees".<BR><BR>THE MONZA CIRCUIT<BR>The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was the third permanent circuit to be built after Brooklands (1907) and Indianapolis (1909). Work began in 1922 and was completed in 110 days. Since then the circuit has been continuously renewed and today Monza is one of the most modern, functional and safest tracks in the world. The latest reconstruction work involves the pitlane complex and hospitality suites. Monza has hosted World Superbike racing since 1990.<BR><BR>CIRCUIT RECORDS<BR>Lap Record: Edwards (Honda) 1:48.913 (2001); Superpole: Bayliss (Ducati) 1:48.649 (2001); Qualifying: Chili (Suzuki) 1:48.584 (2001)<BR><BR>2001 RESULTS<BR>Race 1: 1. Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada); 2. Edwards (Honda); 3. Yanagawa (Kawasaki). Race 2: 1. Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada); 2. Edwards (Honda); 3. Yanagawa (Kawasaki). <BR><BR>NEW WIND-INFOSTRADA COLOURS<BR><BR>The Monza WSBK round will also see the Ducati Infostrada bikes of Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus sport an exciting new colour scheme. Following a strategic integration between the various activities of Gruppo Wind, which has also led to the logos of Infostrada and Libero being revamped, the orange and blue colours that characterise all the company's communications activities will now also be present on the Ducati Infostrada team bikes of Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus, starting from Monza.<BR><BR>CITY OF BOLOGNA<BR><BR>Monza will mark the first appearance on Italian soil for the partnership between Ducati Corse and the City of Bologna. Sanctioned in a brief ceremony in City Hall on March 15th by the Mayor of Bologna, Giorgio Guazzaloca and Ducati Motor Holding CEO Carlo di Biagio, the aim of the initiative is to underline the close ties between the Borgo Panigale manufacturer and its city. As a result the Ducati Infostrada 998 Factory bikes of Bayliss and Xaus will race in the remaining rounds of the World Superbike Championship with the coat of arms of Bologna City Council on the front and side fairings.<BR><BR>TV COVERAGE<BR><BR>Eurosport (pan-Europe): Sunday 12 May, Race 1 1200 (live), Race 2 1530 (live). La 7 (Italy): Sunday 12 May, Race 1 1320 (delayed), Race 2 1740 (delayed). All times CET.<BR><BR><BR><BR>From a Honda press release:<BR><BR>EDWARDS OUT TO WIN AT MONZA<BR><BR>Castrol Honda¹s Colin Edwards is determined to take victory in both races of Sunday's fifth round of the World Superbike championship at Monza in Italy.<BR><BR>Edwards hopes to continue the form of the last round in Japan three weeks ago when he won the opening race and finished second behind wild card Honda rider Makoto Tamada in the second outing.<BR><BR>SP-2 rider Edwards is also looking to continue an impressive run of never finishing lower than second place in a Monza race since the 28-year-old<BR>Texan joined Honda in 1998. From eight starts Edwards has taken three wins and five second places.<BR><BR>"I do love Monza," admits Edwards. "Ever since I first raced at Monza I've taken to the place. It's the oldest track we go to, the place is special. I know what it takes to win here and I'm looking to do just that in both races on Sunday."<BR><BR>Edwards is also looking to further reduce the points deficit to series leader Troy Bayliss after Edwards reduced the points gap from 45 to 24 with his Japan performance.<BR><BR>Monza action begins with a one-hour free practice on Friday morning followed by qualifying on Friday afternoon. Saturday's superbike schedule concludes with Superpole at 4pm while Sunday's two, 18-lap races start at 12noon and 3.30pm.<BR><BR><BR><BR>From SBK, the race organizers:<BR><BR>PRESS RELEASE<BR>Round 5 – Italy - Monza<BR>10 May – 12 May 2002<BR><BR>Monza, 9 May 2002 <BR>Situated on the outskirts of Milan, Italy's main industrial and commercial power base, the city of Monza is an is an historic settlement, with a rich motorsports tradition thanks to its popular parkland circuit.<BR><BR>The modern circuit, the fastest on the SBK calendar, is ringed on one side by the remains of the original steeply-banked speedway, the scene of many top speed record attempts in the past.<BR><BR>The atmosphere of Monza is unique, with the heavily wooded parkland, nearby former Royal residence and ancient walled surround making the circuit an unmissable experience for visitors and racers alike. The off-track ambience is only one charm however, with the track itself one of the most dramatic on the calendar. <BR><BR>The ultra-high speed straights are contrasted sharply by the slow chicanes, added to the circuit over the years to reduce the speeds of the F-1 cars that regularly compete at Monza.<BR><BR>The fast nature of the Monza track suits the best riders, who can display their bravery as well as their skill at one of the last classic tracks available for top level motorcycle racing. <BR><BR>Troy Bayliss' record-breaking run of six consecutive victories on his Infostrada Ducati at the start of the 2002 season was finally put to the Samurai sword at Sugo three weekends ago. Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda), Bayliss' main early season rival was the man who ended his winning run, with wild card Makoto Tamada triumphant in the second race.<BR><BR>A truly epic battle between the two biggest guns in the 2002 championship is expected at Monza, with both riders real fans of the fast corners and hard-braking chicanes which characterise the majestic Monza circuit.<BR><BR>They will by no means have things all their own way, as the quick corners and long-straights usually mean that no single rider can escape the chasing pack, at a track where slipstreaming is an essential part of any rider's race tactics.<BR><BR>The ultra-fast FGF Playstation2 Aprilia RSV of Noriyuki Haga will be a potent threat, with the good aerodynamics of the bulbous machine expected to pay dividends on the straights.<BR><BR>The factory Ducati twins are equally potent devices at high-speed tracks, so expect Ben Bostrom (L&M Ducati) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) to be in the mix for the podium places. <BR><BR>In the four-cylinder Kawasaki and Suzuki factory camps, Chris Walker and Gregorio Lavilla respectively may be presented with their best chances of scoring 2002 season podium places. Each manufacturer has scored recent success at the Monza track, where speed is more important than corner exiting acceleration. With regular rider Hitoyasu Izutsu out of the Monza event due to his Sugo wrist injury, Eric Bostrom fills the second berth in the Kawasaki Racing Team.<BR><BR>Pierfrancesco Chili will be back on his NCR Ducati at Monza, and if his 2001-spec factory machine has the legs to stick with the most recent versions, he may be a threat to the podium.<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson finds himself in a similar situation to Chili, with the HM Plant rider looking to improve on his third place finish at Sugo, at a track he enjoys. The Englishman moved to third overall at Sugo and will be highly motivated to stay there. Championship leader Bayliss is now 24 points ahead of Edwards, with Hodgson 76 points from the top of the table.<BR><BR>If the 2001 Monza race results are repeated this year then Troy Bayliss will be in line for his fourth double-win of the year. Involved in a real scrap with Colin Edwards last season, Bayliss used his speed, wit and even his elbows to win both races, although Colin Edwards took the new lap record, with a 1:48.913. The track is one of the longest in current use, at 5.762kms.<BR><BR>Edwards has been a winner at Monza before, both in his days as a V-four factory pilot, and on the 2000 version of his VTR1000SP. In 2000 he had to share his wins with a certain Pierfrancesco Chili, who took the race win on a photo finish after a breath-taking drag race to the flag with Edwards.<BR><BR>Chili has been a former SBK race winner at Monza, and the pole position man pre-Superpole last year. Even with modified chicanes in great number at Monza, chicanes that Chili has stated many times he does not relish; he may be in the running for a surprise podium once more.<BR><BR>In the Supersport World Championship, the 2001 race winner James Whitham will be back to do battle with the man he edged out of the running, Paolo Casoli, with the Belgarda Yamaha team-mates racing a few kilometres from their team's base in Milan.<BR><BR>The Monza race is always especially close, with the closely matched Supersport machines the perfect tools to provide thrills for riders and spectators alike.<BR><BR>Three riders have won races in the four races so far, Stephane Chambon (Alstare Suzuki), Andrew Pitt (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Fabien Foret (Ten Kate Honda) all of whom could come out on top at Monza.<BR><BR>Local rider Piergiorgio Bontempi will lead the Ducati challenge, hoping that his NCR machine will be able to stay with the fast four-cylinder Japanese machines.<BR><BR>In a change to the regular schedule of an SBK weekend, the World Sidecar Championship race will be run on Saturday, allowing increased TV exposure and providing the weekend-long spectators with a full status race one day earlier than normal.<BR><BR><BR><BR>From Fuchs Kawasaki:<BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE & SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIPS<BR>ROUND 5 - MONZA, ITALY<BR>9 MAY 2002 - EVENT PREVIEW <BR><BR>TORRENTIAL RAIN GREETS THE FUCHS KAWASAKI TEAM AT MONZA<BR><BR>The Fuchs Kawasaki Racing Team return to Europe this weekend for round five of the World Superbike and Supersport Championships at the historic Monza circuit in Northern Italy.<BR><BR>Despite the fact that he arrived in Italy in torrential rain Andrew Pitt, the reigning world champion and lap record holder at Monza, is determined that this weekend will see him regain his lead in the Supersport championship standings. <BR><BR>'We went pretty well here in the dry last year, setting a new lap record on the way to finishing fourth, so we're pretty sure we've got a good dry setting for the bike,' Said Pitt. 'It's raining heavily now and while it would be good for the fans if the weather were to improve over the next few days, I'm happy enough riding in the wet if it is still raining on Sunday. It's difficult to predict how the race will go, as slipstreaming tracks such as Monza are always a bit of a lottery, with the result normally being decided on the final lap, but, I'm keen to take back the championship lead and this is as good a place as any to do that.'<BR><BR>For James Ellison, this weekend marks a return to tracks he's raced at before, and the 20-year-old British rider is confident that his circuit knowledge will stand him in good stead at Monza.<BR><BR>'I've been looking forward to Monza since the beginning of the season,' declared Ellison. 'It's an awesome circuit, one of my favourites, and I love racing here. The weather is a bit dismal at the moment, but I like riding in the rain, so I'm not really bothered whether it's wet or dry on Sunday. Now we're back in Europe I'll be racing on tracks I know and I'm determined to kick things off with a good result here this weekend.'<BR><BR>While the Fuchs Kawasaki Supersport riders have both raced at Monza previously, the same isn't true of the team's Superbike pilots. Neither Chris Walker nor Hitoyasu Izutsu's temporary replacement, Eric Bostrom, have ever visited the historic Italian circuit before.<BR><BR>'I've been round the circuit on a scooter and it looks real big and fast, but with some very tight chicanes. In fact, the first chicane doesn't actually look wide enough to get a bike through,' said Walker. 'I've always wanted to race at Monza, it's one of those circuits that looks real fun to race at when you see it on TV. The fact that it's raining could be a problem, as it's a lot more difficult to learn your way around a track in the wet but, hopefully, we'll get at least some dry set-up time before Sunday.'<BR><BR>'I've only ever raced in the wet a handful of times, but it looks as if I'll be getting a lot more experience this weekend,' quipped Bostrom, while peering from the Kawasaki pit garage at a soaking wet pit lane. 'Monza is a new circuit for me, so I'll probably try and follow some of the regular guys around during practice and qualifying to start off with. Hopefully, things will come good before Sunday.'