Toseland and Laconi (Ducati Fila) Continue Four-Way Title Thriller at Imola Imola (Italy), 23 September 2004: World Superbikes return to Imola's Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit this weekend for the latest chapter in this exciting and unpredictable...
Toseland and Laconi (Ducati Fila) Continue Four-Way Title Thriller at Imola
Imola (Italy), 23 September 2004: World Superbikes return to Imola's Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit this weekend for the latest chapter in this exciting and unpredictable championship season. Two years ago eternal rivals Ducati and Honda slugged it out over two extraordinary races at Imola; this time the circuit is the venue for the penultimate round of the championship but it promises to be another thriller because four riders, again representing Ducati and Honda, are still in with a chance of writing their name in the record-books as this year's champion.
James Toseland (Ducati Fila) bounced back to the top of the points table with his second win of the year and a second place on his Ducati 999 at Assen, but the Honda threat from Chris Vermeulen, just three points behind, is not to be underestimated. Ten points adrift of Toseland is Ducati Fila team-mate Regis Laconi, winner of five rounds this year, but not since Oschersleben at the end of May has the Frenchman stood on the top rung of the podium. Not to be discounted either is this year's other five-time race winner, Noriyuki Haga from Japan, who currently lies fourth on a 999 of the satellite Renegade Ducati squad, a further four points behind.
"We're coming off a good result at Assen and we're confident of having another result like that" declared the 23-year-old from Sheffield. "I know the pressure's on but it's on everybody and it's a question of who's going to cope with it best. If we can come away with 45 points from each of the last two rounds, like at Assen, then I'm sure we can lift the title, but it's easier said than done.
"Imola has a lot of undulation, it's quite a technical track actually" he added. "I had a torrid time last year, my gear lever fell off in the first race and I had a massive crash in the second but we were actually quite fast round there and I'm confident I can be competitive this weekend".
29-year-old Frenchman Laconi has an excellent record at the Imola circuit, finishing first, second and third in his four appearances there.
"Imola is a racetrack that I really like and it has some very fast sections before the Villeneuve and the Piratella curves. I've always had good results there and I hope it will be the same this year with the factory Ducati" says Laconi.
"For sure Assen was not very easy, I wasn't entirely happy with the bike so I did the best I could. We tested a lot of things at Magny-Cours afterwards and we found something that made the bike a bit better at the front so now I feel that we are ready for the last races".
PARADE OF DUCATIS: The full house of Ducatisti expected at Imola for the Italian manufacturer's home race will also be entertained by the spectacular sight of a Ducati parade on Sunday raceday. More than thirty Ducati dealers and DOC Owners Club presidents will complete a couple of laps of the Imola circuit on the 2005 version of the Ducati 999 streetbike. The initiative, organised by Ducati Motor Holding in collaboration with WSBK promoters FGSport, will promote the launch of the new model, which will be available for a test-ride at official Ducati dealers and stores throughout Italy during a 999 Open Weekend on October 2/3.
The 999 MY05 was launched to international media at Mugello two weeks ago and to the general public at Munich's Intermot trade fair. Imola therefore becomes an ideal opportunity to present the new bike to racing fans, with the exceptional support of those who help to spread the passion for Ducati - the dealers and DOC club presidents.
Lanzi (Ducati Breil) Aims For Positive Result On Home Turf at Imola
Imola (Italy), 23 September 2004: Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Breil) approaches this weekend's penultimate round of the World Supersport championship with the aim of finishing the season on a high note.
The 22-year-old from Cesena, just down the road, will be back racing his regular Breil-sponsored Ducati 749R Supersport after hurricane 'Ivan' postponed his Superbike debut in the AMA category two weeks ago.
Lanzi, who currently lies sixth overall in the standings with two fourths as season best results, is determined to put in another positive performance this weekend at Imola in front of his numerous home fans.
"We know that for us Imola is quite a difficult track but I am ready to give 100% and get a good result on my home circuit. We did the Italian championship race here a few months ago and although it rained, we were able to find a good starting base" declared Lanzi.
"The greatest difficulties for us at Imola are in acceleration out of the chicanes and in the uphill sections, where we tend to suffer a bit.
"I am sixth in the championship but there are four riders all within a few points of each other so it's quite easy to drop down to ninth. I could have done without that no-score at Assen but we're going to try and hold on to sixth place in the final two rounds at Imola and Magny-Cours".