Monza: Yamaha Racing preview

Yamaha Motor Italia Looking for Success at Home Round The World Superbike Championship's next stop this coming weekend is the historic circuit of Monza in Italy for the sixth round in the 2007 series. The championship first came to the circuit...

Yamaha Motor Italia Looking for Success at Home Round

The World Superbike Championship's next stop this coming weekend is the historic circuit of Monza in Italy for the sixth round in the 2007 series. The championship first came to the circuit in 1990 and this year will be its 14th visit.

The Monza circuit is located northeast of Milan and was built in 1922 by 3,500 workers with funding from the Milan Automobile Club. Monza is the fastest track to appear on the World Superbike calendar with riders often reaching speeds of over 300kph on the start/finish straight. As well as hosting the WSB Championship, the circuit features on the Formula 1 calendar.

The circuit actually consists of three tracks - GP, Junior and the Speed track which includes the oval banking for which the circuit is famous - though WSB uses the GP circuit. The track has been modified many times over the years to increase safety and provide better facilities for race teams and spectators. The last modification was in 2000 when amendments were made to the two chicanes to improve safety. Grandstand seating was also increased in 1997 to 51,000.

Monza is the home circuit for the Yamaha Motor Italia Team, who will be hoping for better luck than at Assen. In a weekend of mixed fortune at the last round Haga took second in race one but failed to finish race two. Corser had an equally turbulent time crashing out of third on the penultimate lap when fluid was sprayed on the rear tyre. Despite pain from the injuries he received in the accident Corser went on to finish fourth in race two and take away some much needed points.

Haga finished third and fourth last year at Monza. Though he is yet to win there Haga goes to Monza determined to provide the team with a win following his second place at Assen.

"Even though Monza is the team's home circuit it is not my favourite track because it has a long start/finish straight but not many corners. This makes it more of a machine's track than a rider's track," says Haga of the circuit. "After the disappointment of Assen though, the show must go on. I need to win at Monza to keep my championship fight alive and to erase the bad memories of the last round. I am always looking to win and nowhere more so than at Monza."

Monza was a good round for Corser in 2006 with second and third position finishes in addition to taking pole position and setting a new Superpole record. He also won there in 2005. For 2007 Corser goes to Monza with the opportunity to take his 40th pole of his Superbike career.

"I've been checked out by a sports therapist and nothing's broken from the crash in Assen, there's just a lot of deep bruising. I've had worse in a lot of other crashes so I'll be fine for Monza," he says of his injuries. "Monza should be a good race. The circuit is all about speed and the bike has enough of it so I'm confident of what we can achieve there. I've got a good history at that place. As for my 40th pole, well I'd love to get it at Monza for the team but my focus is more on getting on the front row. Pole would be an added bonus. The race is the most important thing."

The Yamaha World Supersport Team also had a mixed round at Assen with Parkes crashing out of the race in second place when he lost the front on the penultimate lap. Steve Martin stood in for Kevin Curtain who is recovering from a leg injury sustained at Valencia, and finished in a credible tenth place considering he had only had three hours on the bike prior to the race.

Parkes goes to Monza knowing he needs to finish on the podium and claim points to get him back in contention for the championship. He has shown his capability at Monza finishing second previously.

"We need to get some points on the board and I am aiming for some wins now to get myself back into the championship fight. We were heading in the right direction at Assen until the crash," he says. "There are still eight rounds to go and catching Sofuoglu is going to be tough but not impossible. If I had got second at Assen then I would have been third in the championship now. It's that tight so I'm confident I can move up the championship board if I can get a good finish. Anything can happen when everyone is this close in the points."

Regarding Monza, Parkes says, "I like Monza and even though the last couple of years there haven't been great for me I have finished second there in the past so I know I can do it again. Monza is all about horsepower and set-up and we've got a few more chassis and suspension adjustments to try that we didn't get time to do at Assen."

The Yamaha World Supersport Team had been hoping to welcome back Kevin Curtain at Monza but his recovery is taking longer than expected. He is still resting in Australia where he is seeing a specialist following an accident at Valencia in mid April when he cut the muscle in his right thigh. Kevin is making a good recovery and is now walking without crutches though he has recently got an infection in the wound which has delayed his return to the championship. Following a course of antibiotics it is hoped that he will be back for the Silverstone round later this month but he may need a further operation on the wound if the antibiotics don't work.

WSB rider Steve Martin stood in for Kevin at the last round in Assen but has not been released by the DFX squad for the Monza round. Instead, 250 GP race winner Anthony West will be stepping in to Curtain's shoes for Monza. Yet another Australian, West is racing in the 2007 250 GP Championship though he has raced in the World Supersport Championship previously at Brands Hatch in 2004. His biggest challenge this weekend will be to get used to the four-stroke engine characteristic against the two-stroke he is used to. The weight of the bike will also be a difference for him with the 600cc bike much heavier than the 250cc machine.

"I'm excited to be riding in Kevin's place this weekend though I wish him well. It will be good to ride a different bike in a different championship and at a track that I have never been to before. My GP season hasn't been great so far so this will be a good chance for me to have a really good race," he says. "Though I have ridden four-stroke bikes before, it's quite a while since I slung my leg over one. I would like to finish in the top five this weekend."

Massimo Roccoli, riding in the Yamaha Team Italia squad, went to Assen boosted by a win in the national Italian championship at Mugello the week before. Although he qualified in fifth Roccoli finished the race in 14th due to a wrong tyre choice. Roccoli goes to Monza determined to put in a good performance throughout the whole weekend.

Yamaha had great success in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup at Assen, walking away with first, second and third place on the 2007 new YZF-R1. Pirro took his first Superstock win after moving up this year from the 125 MotoGP World Championship. Team mate Corti came second after being penalized for overtaking under a yellow flag and Belgian rider Didier van Keymeulen took the third podium space.

Pirro and Corti go into this third round both on 45 points and are second and third in the championship respectively. Van Keymeulen lies in seventh but with only a small points margin up to the Yamaha Team Italia riders. All three riders will be targeting the top spot at this weekend's round ensuring some close race action.

Track length: 5792m

Track opened: 1922

2006 winner: Bayliss (Ducati), Bayliss (Ducati)

2006 fastest lap: 2'00.061 (Haga, Yamaha)

WSB lap record: 1'59.696 (Bayliss, Ducati)

-credit: yrc

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Steve Martin , Anthony West , Kevin Curtain , Massimo Roccoli