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Apr 26, 2003

World Superbike Denies Being A Ducati Cup Series

From a press release issued by World Superbike:<BR><BR> <BR>PRESS RELEASE<BR>Round 3 – Japan - Sugo,<BR>Sugo, 27 April 2003 <BR><BR>Six Motorcycle Manufacturers on the Sugo Starting Grid<BR><BR>The Japanese round of the World Superbike Championship promises to be a breath-taking show at the highest technical level. The starting grid brings together six manufacturers and seven different models. This year's change of regulations, made at the beginning of this season, has opened the class to four cylinder 1000cc machines, enriching and broadening the technical panorama by bringing together two, three and four cylinder bikes ranging in displacement from 750cc to 1000cc. In 2004 the rules will change again, establishing a 1000cc limit for all machines regardless of the number of cylinders. Performance will be equalized for engines from two to six cylinders by minimum weight limits and inlet tract restrictors, used at present only on four cylinder 1000cc models. <BR>Here are the magnificent six manufacturers prepared to square off against each other at Sugo.<BR><BR>DUCATI – The reigning manufacturers champion enters two models, the all-new 999 and the glorious 998F02. The new machine has made the best of possible debuts, winning the first four races of the 2003 season in the capable hands of Neil Hodgson. The 998 is also putting in good results. Both bikes are fuel injected, twin-cylinder machines with trellis frames. The works Fila Ducati bikes are shod by Michelin, the satellite, works-supported GSE team runs Dunlop tires while the satellite DFX squad is working to develop tires for the Pirelli company, a firm that is becoming more and more involved in World Superbike. <BR><BR>HONDA – In 2002 the Japanese giant won the riders' championship with Colin Edwards. For the Sugo race HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) has entered a works VTR-SPW 1000cc twin, ridden by the newly-signed Hitoyasu Izutsu. The big twin was first entered by Honda in the World Superbike Championship in 2000 and took the title in two of the last three seasons. At Sugo the VTR-SPW has won three of the last four races, and now it is up to Izutsu. The factory Honda will run on Michelin tires. This model will be retired in 2004 and will probably be replaced by a four cylinder machine to continue the fascinating battle with Ducati and the other seasoned challengers.<BR><BR>SUZUKI – Suzuki is the first brand to accept the four cylinder 1000cc challenge. Although development of the GSX1000R began only in January, the results so far are very promising. In Australia the new Suzuki allowed Gregorio Lavilla to earn a place on the podium and record the second fastest lap of the day. At Sugo Suzuki will add a second machine in the hands of national champion Atsushi Watanabe. The big Suzuki makes a claimed 200 horse power, ten more than the Ducati and Honda twins. The works Suzukis are equipped with Dunlop tires. <BR><BR>PETRONAS Foggy FP1 – This is the big news in the 2003 Superbike season. The giant Petronas concern, the world's fourth largest petroleum company, has taken up the challenge to build a large capacity road bike, starting from scratch to take on the world's leading manufacturers. The ambitious project is headed up by four times World Champion Carl Fogarty, the most successful rider in World Superbike history. Petronas has managed to build a three-cylinder 900cc bike in only a year and managed to start the first race of the season on the front row. In 2004 Petronas may convert the Foggy FP-1 to full 1000cc displacement and become a true threat to the other factories. These future challengers are being ridden by former World Champion Troy Corser and young James Hayden. The Petronas is equipped with Michelin tires.<BR><BR>YAMAHA – The Iwata factory is present via the UnionBike GiMotorsport team that enters the capable Giovanni Brussei on the R1 1000cc fuel injected four cylinder machine, running on Dunlop tires. The Yamaha R1 won the opening round of the Italian Superbike Championship, ridden by Alex Gramigni.<BR><BR>KAWASAKI – The ZX-7RR, homologated in 1996, is the oldest bike on the grid. The Italian Bertocchi team is running the 750cc fours, ridden by Mauro Sanchini and Ivan Clementi. The factory from Akashi won the World Championship in 1993 with Scott Russell and carefully following the evolution of the Superbike regulations with an eye to the probable entry of a new 1000cc machine in 2004. <BR><BR>SBK Press Office<BR>