Sunday 31 March 2002 - Abbott leads Superside to Kyalami. Superside returns to South Africa. Two new names lead the Superside World Championship into it's second round at Kyalami, relegating 2001 World Champions, KlaffenbÃ¶ck and Parzer third ...
Sunday 31 March 2002 - Abbott leads Superside to Kyalami.
Superside returns to South Africa.
Two new names lead the Superside World Championship into it's second round at Kyalami, relegating 2001 World Champions, Klaffenböck and Parzer third in the standings with eight times World Champion, Webster and Woodhead down in eleventh place.
Experience and cunning came together with luck at the Ricardo Tormo circuit at Valencia, with the wily Steve Abbott from Derbyshire, England coming out on top to take only his fourth win in twenty years of World Championship racing.
With backing from high performance engine developers, Maxsym, Abbott and Biggs, powered by their, 1120cc Yamaha FZR based engine, held on for the win after Webster and Woodhead, who had dominated the race from the outset, slowed with their Suzuki powered machine running on only two cylinders.
Abbott topped the time sheets from the outset, leading fellow Brits, Hanks and Biggs, who now also run a Windle chassis, by a second in the first track session. The second session saw them lead the hard charging Steinhausen and Hopkinson by a second. World Champions, Klaffenböck and Parzer, came through the pack in the final timed session but couldn't get within a second of the spectacular Abbott and Biggs.
"Mr Superpole", Steve Webster, then reordered the grid, lapping an amazing three and a half seconds quicker than anyone else in Superpole on the single flying lap using liveonscreen.com Racing team mate Muldoon's spare engine.
Webster and Woodhead had only completed a total of eight laps during practice and qualifying, as Webster missed the compulsory rider briefing on Thursday night, which automatically ruled them out of the first untimed practice. The next two timed sessions saw engine troubles for the Suzuki Great Britain backed pairing.
When the race started on Sunday afternoon, Webbo streaked into the lead on the second lap and dominated until the 16th lap, when engine problems saw him dropping back down through he field. "Our engine cases cracked, so the screw that holds the ignition pick-up in place dropped out," admitted Webbo.
"It's a problem we've had before, but we know what we need to do so we just have to go home and do some work. We managed to keep going and finished eleventh and got some points. At the end of the year those points may mean the difference between winning and losing."
Returning as privateers in 2002, passionate German Champion, Jörg Steinhausen teamed again with Englishman Trevor Hopkinson to take a strong second place at Valencia.
Without sponsorship, the Steinhausen Racing team have been doing it tough, only testing briefly at Oschersleben prior to the season opener at Valencia. Using last year's LCR chassis and the same "freshened up", Suzuki GSXR1200 engines, the refreshed Steini has recovered from the back problems that plagued his 2001 season.
World Champions, Klaus Klaffenböck and Christian Parzer, had their first real session under Yamaha power, albeit on the 2001 model engine.
"We are using a 2001 Yamaha R1 engine and are a little short on power," said Klaffi. "It's not top speed that we are lacking but the power to drive out of corners. But we hope to get a 2002 R1 engine with fuel injection soon."
Stuart Muldoon, a new signing for liveonscreen.com Racing, finished a creditable fourth in his first outing with Suzuki power and passenger Andy Peach. The hard charging Scot should be a regular on the podium in 2002 and with his improved fitness, is one to watch at Kyalami.
The change from LCR to Windle chassis has been good for Tom Hanks and Phil Biggs, even if engine reliability issues have risen with their Yamaha R1 engines. Valenica took it's toll early on the usually reliable Hanks powerplant, with and engine failure in free practice on Friday. Returning to a standard engine configuration, the team were happy with fifth place, but are looking for more.
Dolf Hänni's prediction before the Valencia event of "a top ten finish, maybe fifth or sixth", was right on the money. Hänni races with Schlosser in 2002 who returns to Superside after a two-year absence. Schlosser, with limited four-stroke experience, dealt with the top ten with ease, and is expected on the podium within the first half of the season.
Roger Lovelock also made his return to the World Championship scene in Valencia, paired with World Championship rookie, Gary Yendell. The Diet Get Fit team scored seventh place, setting the scene for a very competitive season.
With Superside competition increasing in 2002, the Kyalami race is primed and ready to go. Webbo will look to return to the top of the leaderboard, whilst Klaffi will try out the 2002 Yamaka R1 with fuel injection, but don't rule out privateer Steini or the championship leaders, Abbott and Biggs with their fire breathing Maxsym Yamaha.
The left-handed circuit, as with Valencia, means that chassis setup will be critical. But add in the hills and very fast sweeping corners of the Kyalami circuit, and the winner may come from those that make the best of the available rear rubber.