Qatar: Team Alstare Suzuki race report

SUPERBIKES ARE BACK WITH A BANG! The opening round of this year's Superbike World Championship in Qatar today proved that Superbikes are back with a bang. Close-quarter, cut and thrust racing was the order of the day in both 18-lappers and, ...

SUPERBIKES ARE BACK WITH A BANG!

The opening round of this year's Superbike World Championship in Qatar today proved that Superbikes are back with a bang. Close-quarter, cut and thrust racing was the order of the day in both 18-lappers and, if today's races are anything to go by, Superbike fans are in for a treat this year.

Troy Corser suffered clutch problems in both races, but still managed to hold off the challenge of fellow countryman Troy Bayliss (Ducati) in the second and take the win. This made up for the disappointment in finishing fourth in the first race, when the clutch problem was more severe. James Toseland (Honda) won that one, with Troy Bayliss second and Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) third. Behind Troy in race two was Bayliss, with Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) third after getting the benefit of a photo-finish with Toseland.

It was a disappointing day for Yukio Kagayama and Fabien Foret. Yukio was leading the first race on the last lap, but was taken out by Haga at the hairpin. Haga had got in a bit too hot, lost the front end and crashed. His bike then hit Yukio's, knocking him off in the process. In race two, clutch problems forced his early retirement. Fabien Foret had a debut to forget - though not of his own fault. A broken sensor sidelined him in the first race and a problem with electronics caused an early stoppage in race two.

TROY Race 1: 4th, Race 2: 1st

It's possible that I may have over-revved the bike at the start pf race one and worked the clutch too hard. It was OK at first, but after six or seven I had a problem with it going into the hairpin. It jumped and was completely out, so I had to wait until a straight and try and dial it back in a bit. It made life difficult entering the turns and so I had to brake harder on the entry and that probably worked the front tyre too hard. I think I was lucky to finish the first race because the clutch was very hot.

I also had some problems with the clutch in the second race, but not as bad as the first. Towards the end of the race I could hear a Ducati nearby and I knew it probably was Troy's (Bayliss). The tyres were more or less finished on the last couple of laps and I almost overcooked it on the last corner, but I managed to keep it upright and take the chequered flag. Both races were really hard - certainly much harder than the races here last year - and I think everybody knows that this is going to be one long, hard season for sure.

YUKIO Race 1: DNF, Race 2: DNF

I am not sure if I could've won the first race because Nori (Haga) was very strong. For sure I had a good chance, but when his bike hit me on the very last lap it was all over - for both of us. I was ahead of him at the time and I think he must have just lost the front going into the turn and the bike went down and then struck me. Of course it was a disappointment - but that is racing. We both just wanted to win.

I had clutch problems more or less from the start of the second race. I could feel straightaway that it wasn't working properly and so I tried to wind the adjuster back for the first few laps. Then I had a problem with Fabrizio in turn one when he overdid it and nearly hit me. To avoid him, I had to go off the track and I lost a lot of positions. After that it was a lost cause.

FABIEN Race 1: DNF, Race 2:

I had a few problems in the first race, right from the very beginning when I had to take a different line to avoid Barros. Then, just three corners later, Jones crashed right behind me and I had to change my line to avoid being skittled by his bike. I then began to relax a little but a few laps later I began to experience chattering from the front end. Finally, the bike just suddenly stopped after six laps because of a broken speed sensor.

I'm not sure what the problem was in race two. The bike was stuttering and mis-firing and then stopped completely. It's not the kind of start I had hope for, but here and Australia are really tests for me and the team, so it's not a big disaster.

-tas-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Andrew Pitt , Noriyuki Haga , Troy Corser , Fabien Foret , Yukio Kagayama