FPR riders look to bounce back in France
Foggy PETRONAS Racing riders Troy Corser and Chris Walker enter next weekend's final round of the Superbike World Championship looking to bounce back from a weekend of tribulation at Imola.
Frenchman Regis Laconi won both races to set up a thrilling climax to the championship battle but Troy Corser's 10 points was a meagre return for Carl Fogarty's team.
Troy's landmark 200th World Superbike race proved to be one to forget as, from the early stages of the race, he battled to overcome a deteriorating tyre to finish in 12th place. A switch to a stiffer tyre construction for the second race enabled the only top ten finish of the weekend for FPR.
Team-mate Chris Walker suffered further woe, retiring on the tenth lap with a technical failure in the first race and missing out on the points when finishing 16th in the afternoon despite recovering from a first lap mistake which saw him drop to last place.
Troy, who suffered hand blistering during his first race struggle, said: "The engine was stronger and the tyre was more consistent in the second race. The tyre was still spinning but the slide was more progressive and the bike was more stable. I could get away with the leaders in both races but as soon as the riders behind came past there was nothing I could do. In the first race the rear tyre was okay for three laps then started spinning up and the bike was backing into the corners. Initially I thought there must be something coming out of the bike because it started backing in so suddenly. I was trying to brake where I normally brake but had no grip in the rear and I was missing all the apexes."
Chris said: "I am trying so hard and the mistake in the second race was through frustration. Every time I hit the brakes I was going sideways and so, on the first lap, I braked that little bit later and ended up in the gravel. Then I just got my head down and fought back but missed out on the points by one place. It's a long way to come for nothing and I'm just glad it's only a week before we have a chance to turn it round. I didn't get too bad a start to the first race but Bussei boxed me in at the first corner, which cost me a few places. I got into a bit of a rhythm with lap times in the low 53s when I had a clear track, then the bike suddenly revved to the moon and there was no drive."
Chief engineer Steve Thompson said: "We are still struggling with the power delivery of the bike, especially when the circuit has slow corners from which you move quickly through the gears up to top speed, like here at Imola. We cope better when we have a good tyre but Pirelli are still in the middle of developing a suitable carcass for the FP1."
Laconi now takes a slender six point lead over team-mate James Toseland into his home round of Magny-Cours, France, after Chris Vermeulen and Noriyuki Haga both saw their championship challenges falter, Vermeulen starting from pit-lane for race two after crashing on the warm-up lap and Haga losing the front end while leading the second race.