WINSTON'S VERMEULEN CONCEDES CHAMPIONSHIP IN IMOLA DELUGE
Winston Ten Kate Honda rider, Chris Vermeulen, had to concede defeat in the 2005 World Superbike championship this afternoon after the second of today's two eleventh round at Imola in Italy was cancelled for safety reasons.
Although the riders had formed on the grid for the second of the two 21-lap races around the 4.9km Imola circuit, heavy rain continued to fall and the grid was cleared following the warm-up lap. After an hour's deliberation, during which rain continued to fall, race control finally cancelled the event, handing the 2005 title to Troy Corser, who has a 55 point lead in the series with just two races remaining.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager:
"It's a very strange and disappointing way to lose the championship, after Chris had won the first race today and three of the previous four races. We respect the decision of race control because, at the end of the day, the safety of riders is more important than any championship. On the other hand, we're very sad to see Chris's chance of winning the title going down the drain like this. Once again, Imola has been our Waterloo but we'll hope for some dry conditions next weekend in Magny-Cours, when we hope we can show our true potential again. For now, we send our congratulations to Troy and his Corona squad. I'm quite sure they would have liked the title to be decided on the track today but it's just one of those things."
Chris Vermeulen - championship position, 2nd
"To be honest, I'm not too disappointed about the championship. It was always a long shot and, even if we'd managed to get some more points off Troy in race two, he would still go to Magny-Cours with a big lead. All I could do was win races and that's been happening recently - I think that shows just how much we've developed the bike during the course of the season. I didn't really want to stop the race but safety always has to be the most important thing. Some parts of the track were especially dangerous, like coming out of the Variante Alta chicane where the track slopes away and it was underwater. Behind that is a concrete wall, so it was the right decision. We'll just go to Magny-Cours next weekend and try for two more wins."
Karl Muggeridge - championship position, 11th
"In the end, it was the safest thing to do, cancelling the race. But I think we should have tried at least a couple of laps, instead of turning it into a battle. It's a shame for Chris that he didn't get to run the race and maybe take the championship to the final round, but the decision obviously suited Troy. The track is really slippery when it's wet but there was a lot of water laying on it which had built up between the sighting lap and the warm-up lap. As I say, it was the right decision but maybe they'll change the rules now."
Final round: 7-9 October - Magny-Cours, France