WINSTON'S VERMEULEN WINS IN IMOLA
Chris Vermeulen won this afternoon's opening race in the eleventh round World Superbike championship event at Imola in Italy. The 23-year-old Australian beat his championship rival, Troy Corser, by just three tenths of a second to keep his title hopes alive for at least one more race.
With the 21-lap race declared wet on a drying 4.9km circuit, tyre choice was critical and Vermeulen opted for an intermediate front and slick rear. It resulted in the fourth win in five races for the Winston Ten Kate Honda rider, as he maintained the form shown since his double win at Assen last month. His Australian team-mate, Karl Muggeridge, however, suffered further misfortune with clutch failure on the opening lap.
Ronald ten Kate -- team manager:
"Quite honestly, when the sun came out at the start of that race, I thought our chance had gone because we had opted for an intermediate front and slick rear. The lap times didn't come down as much as we expected when the track dried and it was clear that a lot of riders got into trouble with the conditions. At the end of the day, perhaps it wasn't such a bad tyre choice but compliments to Chris who rode magnificently to stay ahead of Troy (Corser) who went for a slick front. As for Karl, it's just more bad luck because his clutch probably went as he got away from the line, meaning his race was over before it had really begun."
Chris Vermeulen - winner
"That was pretty tough and perhaps the intermediate front wasn't the wisest choice. But it helped me get past some guys at the start of the race and I was able to push relatively hard early on. But by mid-race distance, the track was dry and I really started to struggle. The last few laps got a bit hairy in places because, by then, the tyre was cooked. We're hoping not to have that difficult tyre choice for race two because I need to win again. But those other guys never give up so it's not going to be easy."
Karl Muggeridge - DNF
"You can probably imagine that I'm pretty disappointed. We made progress yesterday and changed a few little things for the better this morning. I got a reasonable start and felt good on that first lap. The bike was awesome and then-- well, that was it. I could do with a bit of luck this afternoon, for sure."