Imola: Ten Kate Honda Racing race report

Muggeridge Takes World Championship After Sixth Race Win Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) made his championship win secure with a superb display of front running race craft and sheer speed, outpacing his closely following team-mate...

Muggeridge Takes World Championship After Sixth Race Win

Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) made his championship win secure with a superb display of front running race craft and sheer speed, outpacing his closely following team-mate Broc Parkes, despite coming under strong pressure for most of the 21-laps.

Muggeridge, winner of six races and eight pole positions this year, becomes the third rider to have won the World Championship for the Ten Kate Team, following on from Fabien Foret in 2002 and Chris Vermeulen in 2003.

Parkes second place and the exit from the race of Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Yamaha) has opened out the championship race for second overall, with Parkes now only four points behind with one more race to run.

After taking the championship even before the race was finished, thanks to the exit of van den Goorbergh, Muggeridge's response to his signal from pitlane was clear. "I opened the gas some more," said Muggeridge, clutching his World Championship trophy. "Broc kept the pressure on the whole time and I needed to stay on my game. I was a little bit concerned about the tyre durability at the pace we were going but in the end the tyre was sliding anyway, but got us home to finish it. My family came over here for this race so it was great that I could win it a weekend early. I've wanted to be world champion for a long time and today we achieved that."

Parkes could not quite win the race, despite some attempted passes on Muggeridge. "Today was good, Karl was stronger than me at the end of the race even though felt good at the start. I felt I could win the race today, but it didn't stick but Karl realised I was so close and kept the pressure up. I couldn't stay with him. Sometimes when I started to put the pressure on Karl I saw my team manager Ronald leaning about four meters over the pit wall pointing at his head, telling me to stay calm, but it was always OK!"

Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate was delighted to win, both race and the championship, and not just for his own team. "We are also very close in the Manufacturers' Championship and bringing that in for Honda would be a very good bonus. To end it in such great style just shows what a good a selection of riders we have this year and how good the team has been working. It is not that usual in Supersport racing that you can take a 1-2 in the way Karl and Broc did it today. We didn't put any team orders into the mix and about four or five laps into the race I thought I had made a very big mistake! But I don't like team orders anyway, they always backfire on you. Having said that, I had to go to pitlane to put the fire out a little bit! Broc now also has a good possibility to move up to second in the championship after Magny Cours and that really would be mission completed."

Team Principle Gerrit Ten Kate was delighted with three championships in three years; "I think that the riders are happy, had very good settings on the bikes and made the most of them. Three championships in a row was very satisfying for us."

Superbike:

Vermeulen Second and Sixth After Dramatic Imola Races

Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) maintained his hunt for the World Championship title after two very different races at Imola, the venue for the penultimate rounds of the World Championship.

Race one looked to be the preserve of Chris until the last two laps, when Regis Laconi (Ducati) swept ahead to record his sixth win of the year. Nonetheless Chris still took the championship lead for the first time in 2004. James Toseland (Ducati) went third with Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) fourth.

Race two began in almost disastrous style for Vermeulen, crashing on the warm-up lap, hurting his ankle in the process, then having to get a lift back to the pits on the back of Giovanni Bussei's Ducati, restarting from pitlane. His amazing turn of speed, sometimes lapping 1.5 seconds faster than the leaders, placed him sixth, earning him ten championship points. The second race was won by Laconi, from Toseland, with Ducati private rider Steve Martin third. Championship contender Noriyuki Haga crashed, negating his realistic championship chances.

In the overall table Chris sits third, on 282 points, with Laconi in the lead, 295 to Toseland's 291.

Vermeulen stated. "I had a bit of a problem on the sighting lap with my number one bike, it wouldn't rev out properly like there was something wrong with the electrical system. I said it to the guys on the grid and they arranged to swap the bike for my number two bike. It felt comfortable, set up the same as my first one, but on the first corner I was right out of the seat and crashed. Some other riders said they thought they saw a wisp of smoke or steam from the bike so maybe an oil or water line came off or something like that. I'm not sure. I got a lift back with Giovanni Bussei and I have to say he is a very nice guy in my book! I made the finish and rode as well as I could. I've got a sore wrist, ankle and hip but it could have been a lot worse. I'm 13 points behind the lead and I wanted to leave here a lot closer to the top than that. We just have to go out to take a winning double in France."

Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate affirmed that Chris would be fit for Magny Cours. "Chris has been declared for the last race next week but had to race pretty badly bruised. His hand is bruised and that made riding difficult, the ankle is not a problem despite his limp and he lost quite a lot of skin off his hip. But all in all it could have been much worse. He had a problem, something electrical, with his number one bike, came in to change it for his second bike, went out and immediately had a big crash in turn one. He managed to get back to pitlane with his number one bike ready to use. We fitted a new battery and until the end of the race he did not suffer from any of the stuttering problems he had on the sighting lap. He got to McCoy but had to settle for what he had, in sixth place. We're sorry for Chris but things like this happen in racing. We will try hard to bounce back from this at Magny Cours and it is not over yet."

- www.tenkateracing.com

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