With the spectacular Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on the outskirts of London hosting this weekend's eighth round of the World Superbike Championship, Frenchman Regis Laconi and in particular Britain's reigning world champion James Toseland will be...
With the spectacular Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on the outskirts of London hosting this weekend's eighth round of the World Superbike Championship, Frenchman Regis Laconi and in particular Britain's reigning world champion James Toseland will be searching for further victories in this year's series in front of another massive sell-out crowd. Both riders were on the podium in the last round at Brno three weeks ago, but a second and a third place in race 1 were not sufficient to make much of an impact on the series leader, Troy Corser (Suzuki).
Ducati Corse Superbike Technical Director Ernesto Marinelli explains the varied nature of the Brands Hatch circuit: "Brands is a difficult track because there are a lot of ups and downs and, like Laguna Seca, it requires a good set-up for the different parts of the circuit, stiff in certain parts and softer wherever required. For sure the first curve, Paddock Hill Bend, is tough on the bike because you go down hard and then back up. At that point the bike undergoes incredible compression, and that's the thing that creates the biggest problem, as well as the fact that there can sometimes be contact with other riders at that point."
Both Toseland and Laconi flew in directly to Brands after a two-day private testing session at Mugello, Italy on Tuesday and Wednesday, in which they mainly did development work for Pirelli. Both riders recorded excellent times of 1'54.4 on race tyres at the Tuscany circuit.
24-year-old Toseland is determined to make amends for his poor showing here last year: "It was important to do the tests at Mugello because time on the bike for me is paramount, even though as far as the championship is going, it looks like it's in Troy's hands. But all I want to do from now until the end of the season is win races, especially at Brands this weekend. We had problems here last year, it was my worst round, but not everything was my fault. I've got to get it together in qualifying this weekend but with the bike now feeling comfortable, I'm ready to go. The first half of the track is very technical, where you need the bike to steer well round Druids to Graham Hill and the second half is basically just fast and a bravery thing. Clearways is probably the most technical corner -- off-camber, uphill, tightens up towards the end and you've got to get the drive down the straight. For all the fans out there, they have come to see me winning and I'm going to do my best to win this weekend!"
"For me the testing was just a little bit too close to the race but for sure it is a good help because it gets you to arrive at Brands in a good condition," declared Laconi. "I always enjoy racing at Brands Hatch because it is a track where the rider can make a big difference. The most important thing is to have a good feeling with the track because you don't see many of the corners and you have to know where to go before you go through them. The more difficult place is Dingle Dell where they changed the corner, because you really have to have a good feeling through there. Last year I was fast but this year I am faster at all the corners and riding much better. The rest of the season is going to be tough and we will have to fight race by race, but the title battle is never over until it's over. I think I will do nothing special in August, just training, a little bit on the beach and relax before the rest of the races."