Team Ducati Fila hungry for more success in Japan. Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus aim to continue their 100% 1-2 win record at this weekend's Japanese Round of the World Superbike Championship, which takes place at the Sugo ...
Team Ducati Fila hungry for more success in Japan.
Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus aim to continue their 100% 1-2 win record at this weekend's Japanese Round of the World Superbike Championship, which takes place at the Sugo Sportsland circuit in the mountainous north-east of the country. With two of the 12 rounds already down, Hodgson and Xaus have a comfortable points lead over their closest rivals as they start the second overseas race of the year. The weekend is not going to be an easy one however due to the characteristics of the circuit and the presence of a couple of strong local 'wild-card' riders.
HODGSON: NO RECORD BREAKER
Hodgson has a good recent record at Sugo, the Englishman finishing fourth and third last year on a satellite Dunlop-shod HM Plant Ducati 998. The Michelin tyres Neil is riding on this year helped Colin Edwards win one of the 2002 races with Honda and the 29 year-old Isle of Man resident is confident he can gain good results again with the brand-new Ducati 999. "I feel very motivated now after a month's gap since the last race in Australia. Physically I feel really good as well" commented Neil. "I'm not worried about trying to break any records or win as many races as possible, I just want to win the championship. There are a few wild card riders here which could make things difficult. The circuit is fantastic, it's in my top 3 of all circuits, it's just the last corner that causes a few problems and it's easy to make a mistake. My form is quite good here, even in 1998 I twice finished fifth on a Kawasaki with a couple of wild-cards ahead of me, while last year I nearly beat Colin Edwards."
XAUS: POSSIBLE TO WIN
Xaus scored a ninth place finish last year after injuring his hand in the first race. With four second places on the board already, the 25 year-old from Barcelona wants to go one better and notch up his first win of the year in Japan. "This is a really technical track, quite difficult and to go fast you need to go slow" declared Ruben. "You need to find a good set-up here because there is not much grip. We hope to do a good race, qualify in front of the Japanese guys and then start Europe as a new season with a lot of points. For sure it's possible to win here, I have to find a good set-up, the bike is perfect, the best bike here but you need time to get the best out of it."
CIRCUIT: Sugo Sportsland first opened as a test track for Yamaha in 1975 and since then it has been transformed into a massive outdoor leisure facility, incorporating a 3.737 km international racetrack. The circuit is situated close to the city of Sendai which has a population of one million people. The track has a total of 15 corners (6 left and 9 right), a tricky first gear chicane at the bottom of the hill and a finish-line straight of 700 metres.