2005 Endurance World Championship, Rd2, Albacete, Spain, Nowland and Cudlin primed for Albacete battle After a two-month recess, the 2005 Endurance World Championship will re-commence in Spain this weekend, with Australian duo Warwick ...
2005 Endurance World Championship, Rd2, Albacete, Spain,
Nowland and Cudlin primed for Albacete battle
After a two-month recess, the 2005 Endurance World Championship will re-commence in Spain this weekend, with Australian duo Warwick Nowland and Damian Cudlin expected to be right in the thick of the action.
Nowland, already a two-time world endurance champion, and Cudlin both ride for the British-based Yamaha Phase One team, and will be backing up after a fourth place in the opening round at Assen, Holland, on March 28.
Since the opening bout, Phase One has embarked on a grueling testing regime, with the latest session taking place at Snetterton in England last week. That 120-lap outing, in particular, has left Nowland in a positive frame of mind.
"The Snetterton test was perfect timing in the lead up to Albacete," said Nowland. "We managed to solve an instability problem we had at Assen, and we ended the day with a great chassis setting. The bike felt great and I was starting to have fun again on a motorcycle again. Also, being back on Dunlop tyres has been a real confidence boost.
"This race is placing everyone under pressure! With only five rounds this season, points are crucial. The simple fact is that we need to finish first or second to stay in touch.
"The race will be tough and I'm sure the pace will be very fast. The factory Suzuki (Castrol Team) is no doubt the target but there are also two or three local teams that are endurance specialists."
Nowland, from Castle Hill in Sydney, won the inaugural world endurance round at Albacete in 2003 aboard a Chinese-entered Suzuki GSX-R1000; the same team on which he won his two world titles in 2000 and 2002.
Meanwhile, Cudlin is re-adjusting to world endurance life after competing in last year's Australian Superbike Championship, and will be eager to get some quality time on the team's YZF-R1.
This year's Albacete round has been pruned from 12 to eight hours, and will start at 6.00pm on Saturday, before concluding at 2.00am the next day. Although the circuit will be fully illuminated, track temperature and conditions are likely to change significantly between rider stints. The circuit layout is also tough on engines, transmissions and brakes; a real test of man and machine.
On current form, championship leader and last year's Albacete winner, Suzuki Castrol Team (Vincent Philippe, Matthieu Lagrive and Keiichi Kitagawa -- GSX-R1000), will be Phase One's biggest danger in round two, although it's doubtful whether Philippe will be at full fitness after breaking his leg in testing last month.
Philippe and Lagrive were the incumbents at Suzuki Castrol in 2004, while perennial All-Japan Superbike contender, Kitagawa, is the new face in 2005.
Meanwhile, Bolliger Team Switzerland (Marcel Kellenberger and David Morillon -- Kawasaki ZX-10R) and Diablo 666 Bolliger (Kevin Falcke, Steve Mizera and Mike Edwards -- ZX-10R) also had the measure of Phase One at Assen, and are also experienced endurance collaborations. Another fancied team at Albacete may turn out to be Aprilia Motociclismo Test Team, which has drafted in former 250cc and MotoGP test rider Marcellino Lucchi to give its campaign more oomph. The team will ride an RSV1000.
Furthermore, the ranks of permanent teams will be joined by a number of entries from the thriving Spanish endurance scene.
For more information on the 2005 Endurance World Championship, visit www.worldendurance.co.uk/