World Superbike Championship-Round 12
Circuit van Drenthe / Assen (Holland)-September 9th 2001
Title fight gets better and better
Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) won the first leg of last weekend's Oschersleben World Superbike Championship round and took a big step towards catching current points leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin). "It's a pity Troy Bayliss had to retire from this race," Edwards said. "But it does make the championship more interesting."
How true. Despite the fact that the constructors' title has already gone to Ducati (the Bologna firm has 458 points to Honda's 347 and Aprilia's 272, the riders' championship is still very much up for grabs. Bayliss leads on 319 points, but second-placed man Edwards has 295 points and Ben Bostrom is in third place with 276 points. There's still two rounds and a total of one hundred points for the taking so the title chase will continue to be close for the two final rounds of the year.
Assen will be crucial however. The weather often plays an important part in Dutch races and riders will no doubt be keeping a close watch on the Assen skies. Last year, the World Supersport race was held on a drying, and therefore very tricky, track.
Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) scored his first ever World Superbike win in Germany and will be out for more in Holland. Xaus knows how to win there after taking first in last year's Supersport event. He currently lies eight in the World Superbike championship, one point behind Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki).
Edwards stays put in 2002.
Honda has officially announced that World Champion Colin Edwards will once again race the World Superbike championship for them next season: "Honda's Superbike World Champion, Colin Edwards tested the RC211V. A bonus for the World Superbike Champion who, together with Rossi, won the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours for the Cabin Honda team. Colin Edwards was curious to know all about the performance of the RCV but denied he was interested in racing the RC211V in the Grand Prix. The American confirmed he will definitely race a Superbike for Honda in the 2002 season."
<pre> World Superbike 2001 provisional standings
Pos. # Rider Manufacturer TOTAL 1 21 T. Bayliss Ducati 319 2 1 C. Edwards Honda 295 3 155 B. Bostrom Ducati 276 4 3 T. Corser Aprilia 238 5 100 N. Hodgson Ducati 232 6 4 P. Chili Suzuki 199 7 5 A. Yanagawa Kawasaki 152 8 11 R. Xaus Ducati 151 9 8 T. Okada Honda 137 10 6 G. Lavilla Kawasaki 136 11 55 R. Laconi Aprilia 111 12 24 S. Chambon Suzuki 107 13 52 J. Toseland Ducati 77 14 19 H. Izutsu Kawasaki 63 15 M. Tamada Honda 50 16 36 B. Parkes Ducati 41 17 35 G. Bussei Ducati 31 18 33 R. Ulm Ducati 28 19 99 S. Martin Ducati 26 20 E. Bostrom Kawasaki 22
Paolo Casoli (Yamaha Belgarda) leads the World Supersport class going into the Assen round. He lies six points ahead of Andrew Pitt (Kawasaki), with German Jorg Teuchert (Yamaha Wilbers) a further three points down in third. Such a small points difference almost certainly means a tense and thrilling final round at Assen.
Michael Bartholemy's BKM Team took part in a local race at Assen on August 14th to better prepare for the upcoming World Supersport event. Kevin Curtain (Honda BKM-Michelin Pilot) had an unlucky start to his August race when he was caught up in a first lap pile-up. The tough Australian rejoined the race in 14th place and still managed to get on the podium with third place in this race won by Pere Riba (Ten Kate Honda). Riba's teammate Fabien Foret (Ten Kate Honda) was 7th and Christiano Migliorati (Honda BKM-Michelin Pilot) did not race. Curtain is fourth in the World Supersport provisional standings, 32 points down on Casoli.
<pre> World Supersport 2001 provisionnal standings Pos # Rider Manufacturer TOTAL 1 2 P. Casoli Yamaha 122 2 8 A. Pitt Kawasaki 116 3 1 J. Teuchert Yamaha 113 4 11 K. Curtain Honda 90 5 7 P. Riba Honda 83 6 69 J. Whitham Yamaha 74 7 5 K. Muggeridge Suzuki 72 8 99 F. Foret Honda 59 9 9 F. Pirovano Suzuki 51 10 37 K. Fujiwara Suzuki 50 11 6 I. MacPherson Kawasaki 49 12 12 P. Bontempi Yamaha 47 13 24 A. Fergusson Honda 47 14 14 C. Cogan Yamaha 47 15 4 C. Kellner Yamaha 46 16 22 V. Guareschi Ducati 43 17 21 C. Vermeulen Honda 21 18 K. Harris Suzuki 17 19 15 W. Daemen Yamaha 16 20 23 D. Thomas Ducati 15 </pre>
Assen and tyres.
Circuit Van Drenthe is 2 km away from Assen and 110 km northeast of Amsterdam. Because England is but a short drive away, British fans flock to the circuit each year. The first Dutch TT was held in 1925 and racing has never stopped at the Dutch "cathedral", except during the two world wars. The current track was built in 1955 and modified in 1989. It is used primarily for motorcycle racing, with only a handful of car races organised there each year. The circuit is currently undergoing a major redesign. It is to be made shorter while more modern grandstands will improve spectators' view of Assen.
"This track has good grip and good drainage," explains Michelin Superbike Manager Jean Hérissé. "This is obviously a bonus when it rains, as it often does there. Assen is all about those fast flowing corners. They don't make tyre choices any easier."
"This is a real rider's track. The layout, with those turns flowing into one another, requires inch-perfect lines. Riders new to Assen tend to take longer to adapt there than at some other tracks."
"Races are often won and lost in the last chicane before the start/finish straight. A brave braking move will be hard to beat there but you have to be good to avoid riding off the track or crashing there."
One of Assen's trademarks is the camber. The track surface is, like the road surface it once was, crowned in the middle. Therefore, the Assen racing line takes riders through several camber changes as they go from one side of the track to the other. Grip can vary greatly with such camber changes and it takes excellent control to master Assen. The new track being built should do away with this problem as the surface will be flat.
There aren't many other circuits offering the levels of grip that Assen has. Especially in the wet. In the dry, grip can almost seem limitless at Assen and those riders accustomed to sliding a lot can find Assen difficult because of that.
Assen requires a very smooth riding style. The smallest mistake can wreck a whole lap as the rider struggles to make up the time lost on those ultra-quick turns. On a Superbike, it's hard to keep the front wheel on the ground and that only means more problems for riders each time they exit a corner and get on the gaz.
The last right-left flick before the final chicane is one of the most difficult sections of the track. Riders reach extremely high speeds there and find it very hard to force the bike to change direction from right to left, especially when its windy.
Assen is the second fastest track on the calendar. Last year Superpole speed average was 177.509 kph and 175.740 kph for fastest race lap. Brands Hatch is only slightly slower (175.914 kph for the Superpole and 174.840 kph for the race) but Monza is much faster (195.544 kph Superpole and 196.947 kph race).
Michelin and Assen.
Michelin brings a total of 2000 tyres, wet and dry, for this race. Superbike riders can choose from: 19 / 67-420 (16,5 inch) rear slicks, rain and intermediate tyres. For the front, riders use 12 / 60-17 (17 inch) and 12/60-420 (16.5 inch) tyres. A total of 800 dry tyres, 200 rain tyres and 100 intermediates are brought for superbike Michelin riders.
900 Michelin Pilot Race tyres are brought for the Supersport class (120 / 70 ZR 17 fronts and 180 / 55 ZR 17 rears). Dry tyres are homologated for street use. Rain tyres don't have to be.
Michelin's on-site personnel includes one team manager, three technicians, eight tyre fitters and one press officer.
<pre> Assen stats. Superbike Fastest practice lap 2000 2'02.936 Pierfrancesco Chili (Suzuki Alstare), 177.136 kph average speed.
Superpole record 2000 2'02.678 Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin), 177,509 kph average speed.
Lap record (fastest race lap 1999) 2'03"914 Carl Fogarty (Ducati Performance-Michelin), 175,740 kph average speed on lap 6 or race 1.
First race results 2000 1- Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin), 16 laps (96,784 km) in 37'19.466, 155,583 kph average speed. 2- Juan Borja (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) at 9.890 3- Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK) at 19.715 4- Troy Corser (Aprilia Racing) at 22.276 5- Aaron Slight (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 27.906
Second race results 2000 1- Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK), 16 laps (96,784 km) in 33'44.824, 172,075 kph average speed. 2- Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki Racing) at 5.884 3- Juan Borja (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) at 8.606 4- Aaron Slight (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 12.964 5- Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 14.740
Supersport Fastest practice lap 2000 2'08.607 St? phane Chambon (Suzuki Alstare), 169,325 kph average speed.
Assen lap record 1999 2'11.031 Iain MacPherson (Kawasaki Racing), 166,190 kph average speed.
Race results 2000 1- Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin Pilot), 16 laps (96,784 km) in 37'18.785, 155,630 kph average speed. 2- Stéphane Chambon (Suzuki Alstare) at 7.041 3- Christer Lindholm (Dee Cee Jeans Racing Team Yamaha-Michelin Pilot) at 22.642 4- Paolo Casoli (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin Pilot) at 23.338 5- Piergiorgio Bontempi (D.C.R. Pirelli Ducati) at 34.911 World Superbike Championship round 13 (final round): September 30th at Imola (Italy).