Toseland secures race win in double podium opener HANNspree Ten Kate Honda rider James Toseland leaves the opening round of the 2007 World Superbike Championship at the top of the standings on equal points with Max Biaggi. British contender...
Toseland secures race win in double podium opener
HANNspree Ten Kate Honda rider James Toseland leaves the opening round of the 2007 World Superbike Championship at the top of the standings on equal points with Max Biaggi. British contender Toseland finished in second and first positions respectively at the championship's first event in Qatar today to secure 45 points and the joint lead in the series.
Race one at the 5.4km Losail International Circuit saw the 25-year-old pull away from the chasing pack in the early stages before entering a nail-biting battle for victory with experienced Italian rider Biaggi. The youngest-ever World Superbike Champion and former MotoGP rider swapped places more than half a dozen times in an exhilarating cat and mouse chase. Toseland held fast until lap 13 when Biaggi slipped past to push him into second place on the podium.
Race two was a different story for HANNspree Ten Kate Honda's Toseland as he settled into the lead from the first lap and refused to let go of the advantage. He led the second 18-lap race from start to finish for a convincing and comfortable win. At one stage Toseland had even extended his lead over race one winner Max Biaggi to 2.1 seconds. Biaggi closed in on the final two laps, but Toseland maintained station and crossed the line more than half a second ahead of his rival.
Team-mate Roberto Rolfo began his race debut with HANNspree Ten Kate Honda in fine form, showing that he is more than comfortable with the CBR1000RR. He improved his pace throughout race one to fight his way up from tenth place on the grid. The reward for his efforts was a seventh place finish. Race two proved more difficult for the young Italian when a problem with the clutch forced him to retire from the race early on. However, Rolfo heads to Phillip Island just two points outside of the top ten in the championship standings.
Ronald ten Kate:
"I am of course a happy man. James has been strong all weekend, but in this morning's warm up the bike wasn't performing well so we weren't feeling too confident before the race. Luckily everything settled down and James had a great race one together with newcomer Max Biaggi -- it was good to see them in a battle. For the second race we managed to adjust the bike for James so that he was able to win and he did it in great style. I am happy, but let's see where we can go from here. Roby had a great first race, especially in the second half. Seventh was a good result for a debut race. In the second race the aim was to start harder and go a lot faster in the beginning but unfortunately we burned the clutch. I am very sorry for Roby but I'm sure that he will bring home more points for the team during the rest of the season."
"I have had a great weekend. I was quickest on Friday morning and in the top three in all sessions. My lowest position was sixth and that was in the warm up this morning. I was quite disappointed with the first race, but in the second race we set the pace and got to the front. The last two laps were difficult but we made it and got first place. This is my seventh year in World Superbikes and I am fitter than ever. Thanks to Honda, the Ten Kate team and to HANNspree -- it is all working out really well so far. We deserve to be at the front after a winter of hard work and to get there in the first race is brilliant."
"Every rider is disappointed when they have a problem that is outside of their control. However, putting that aside it's been a fantastic experience to be part of such a professional team for the first event of the 2007 championship. I have learned a lot about the bike and the way I need to ride it. I still have a heavy feeling at the front of the bike, particularly at the beginning of the race, but once I overcome this with my riding I will be very happy."