Fight for second place looming at new Parkalgar circuit The 14th and final round of the 2008 World Superbike Championship takes place at an all-new venue this weekend, and the focus for both Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) and...
Fight for second place looming at new Parkalgar circuit
The 14th and final round of the 2008 World Superbike Championship takes place at an all-new venue this weekend, and the focus for both Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) and Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) is clear - to beat each other in the fight for overall second place in the championship rankings.
Currently Haga has a nine-point advantage over Corser, with Corser himself 18 points ahead of Max Neukirchner, and a further 14 ahead of Carlos Checa. In all likelihood the runner-up spot will be contested between the two Yamaha riders, and each is keen to finish off the season with at least one race victory.
So far Haga has seven individual wins to his credit in 2008, during a season which has included utter dominance at some rounds, then pain from injury at one or two others. Corser, despite his greater consistency week-on-week, is still looking for his first win in Yamaha colours, and will be bringing every ounce of the experience that brought him two world championships to bear this weekend, in his attempt to secure that elusive race win.
At the most recent WSB race, at Magny-Cours in France, Haga took a win and second place, while Corser recorded third in race two, his 12th podium finish of the year.
Neither Yamaha rider has experience of the new track but the combination of their talents and the unrivalled experience of the Yamaha Motor Italia technical staff will be a fearsome obstacle for their rivals to overcome, as always.
The all-new track at Portimao was only competed recently and the first tests have just been carried out by a handful of World Superbike and Supersport teams. There are many blind corner entries and sudden changes of elevation at the track, which can be used in several different layouts. For World Superbike the lap will be 4.592km, and the Superbike races will be conducted over 22 laps.
Haga was optimistic of his chances of success in the run-up to race weekend. "Portimao is a new circuit which I have never ridden. We planned to test last week but unfortunately that test was cancelled so we will start from scratch. Anyway, this is the last race of the year so I would like to finish well, for me and especially for our team. This season we have all tried and worked really hard and we had both good and bad days. This is the last race for us so I will try extra hard to get good results for Yamaha, my team and our supporters. I will send 'Kando'*to every race fan and all my supporters until the end of my last race with Yamaha."
Corser is also committed to winning, as always, this weekend. "I'm looking forward to this weekend and I'll be going all out to get one or two of those wins we have been trying to take all year. It will be very interesting riding at an all-new track that maybe only one or two of the other guys have ridden at before. Most others, like us, have not been there to test. I don't know anything about the circuit at all but we are in the same position as we were in at Miller in America this year. That was a completely new track for us as well."
Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Team YZF) will have a sign-off race for his French-based team at Portimao. He is the top ranked Yamaha rider behind Haga and Corser, 19th, and with designs on an improvement on that position at the final round.
The GMT 94 team will once more field Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha GMT94) and David Checa (Yamaha GMT94) at the Portuguese race, with the team-mates separated by a single point, in favour of Checa.
Portimao according to Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team Manager)
"The track is all new for us but we know the bike has a very good level of performance. We haven't tested at Portimao but this is the same for almost everybody so it's not an issue. We are confident we can find a good set-up for the race weekend. Our bike and riders have been very good in the last few races, and we all know what we can do. We are ready to race, like always. Our bikes have been refreshed for the Portimao race but there won't be anything new in the set-up."