Magny-Cours: Yamaha Racing preview

The Yamaha Motor Italia squad travels to this weekend's final round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship with Noriyuki Haga looking to take the runner-up slot in the championship from Honda rider James Toseland. While Troy Bayliss (Ducati)...

The Yamaha Motor Italia squad travels to this weekend's final round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship with Noriyuki Haga looking to take the runner-up slot in the championship from Honda rider James Toseland.

While Troy Bayliss (Ducati) celebrated his second world title in Imola last weekend, the British rider overtook Haga in the battle for second place and holds a two point advantage going into the final race.

Haga had a difficult time in Imola, where set-up problems restricted him to fourth and sixth place finishes, but is focused on equalling his best ever final ranking by taking second in the championship.

"There are only two points between me and James so I know what I have to do," says 31-year-old Haga. "I like the Magny Cours circuit and have won there in the past. It has an interesting mix of long straights, some fast corners and very slow hairpins. There are a lot of places where you can make a pass under braking and this is one of our strengths with the R1. As always I will be going with the target of winning the races. If I can do that then the championship will look after itself."

Andrew Pitt has his own targets going to Magny Cours after yet another impressive outing in Imola. The Australian has been one of the revelations of the season and moved up to fourth in the standings with a third and fourth place finish last weekend. The former supersport champion knows that a good result is required in France if he is to fend off the attentions of the in form Alex Barros (Honda) and outgoing world champion Troy Corser (Suzuki) in the battle for fourth.

In the Supersport World Championship, Yamaha Motor Germany's Kevin Curtain aims to give Yamaha its first riders title since 2000 and, in doing so, end Honda's four-year run of dominance in the class. The Australian goes to the final round with an 18 point advantage over defending champion Sebastien Charpentier (Honda), meaning he needs to finish in eighth place or better to add a world title to his 13 Australian championships.

"I was disappointed that I couldn't challenge Sebastien in Imola," explains Curtain. "We struggled for rear grip but I rode with the championship in mind, so third was an ok result. All year we've been working towards the championship, so this weekend will be no different. We know exactly what we need to do to win the title and that's exactly what we'll focus on this weekend."

Curtain's team-mate Broc Parkes made a fighting return from injury in Imola and could potentially take third in the championship. The Australian's enforced absence saw him overtaken by the in form Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) and is hoping for a good result at the track where he took his first world championship win 12 months earlier. "I should be much fitter this week than last," says Parkes. "It was hard work in Imola but I was pleased with my result because it pretty much tied up fourth in the championship."

-credit: yamaha racing

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Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Andrew Pitt , Alex Barros , Noriyuki Haga , Broc Parkes , James Toseland , Troy Corser , Kenan Sofuoglu , Kevin Curtain , Sébastien Charpentier