Riders arrive at cold and wet Nurburgring for Round 7 of HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship As the World Superbike paddock is being set up at the Nurburgring on what proved to be an extremely cold, wet and windy Thursday, the main ...
Riders arrive at cold and wet Nurburgring for Round 7 of HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship
As the World Superbike paddock is being set up at the Nurburgring on what proved to be an extremely cold, wet and windy Thursday, the main media interest surrounded the recent performances of 35-year-old Spanish rider Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and 25-year-old Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) from Germany, currently lying second and third in the championship standings.
Checa came away from the last round at Miller Motorsports Park with a double win and 50 points and this, coupled with two DNF finishes and zero points for the championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox), have helped to reshuffle the cards in the points standings, even though Bayliss still has a 28 point lead. Neukirchner, who had scored his first WSBK win two rounds before at Monza, has twice since been on the podium in second place.
Carlos Checa spoke to us about his Miller win plus his thoughts on this weekend's race at the Nurburgring.
Carlos, it took you only six races to 'break the ice' this year.....
For sure, it was important to win at Miller, I haven't won for a long time. It was very special in America because I had only ever won in Spain before, and it was Honda's 100th win. I arrived at the right moment and it was not easy at all, we had many things to improve during the season, but now it will be a continuation of me, I'm not different now and I will try and keep my feet on the ground. This is what we wanted, a victory as soon as we can, and we got a victory in America, so now we will try and continue doing the same. We know that there will be difficult tracks like here today because in the rain we have never tested. It won't be easy, but I am sure we can fight for the title.
What have you been doing since your win in the USA?
It's been very busy for me since Miller because of the request from HRC to go to Japan to prepare for the Suzuka 8 Hours with a race (Ed. the 300 kms race, in which he finished second). I didn't do so much pre-season testing but now it's very intensive! It was interesting because I want to help Honda and for me as well. They wanted to do the 300 kms race as practice and I was with Kiyonari, we are different riders and we need to know what is the best combination for both. Now I will do one more test there and then the race in July.
What experience of the Nurburgring do you have?
I raced here a long time ago in 500s in 1997, for me it is one of the best tracks in Europe, the best track in Germany and I am really happy to come back here. The weather is not the best in this area, but the track is very interesting and enjoyable for big bikes like the Superbikes we use.
Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) is also arousing considerable interest in Germany and had to face up to a barrage of media interviews on his first return to the circuit since truly emerging in this year's championship. The first German rider to win a WSBK race could have seen the top of the podium already in the third round at Valencia, but eventually only had to wait a couple more races until Monza to take his maiden win. He spoke to us in the build-up to the German Round.
Are you surprised about the media interest in Germany surrounding you?
For me it's perfect, but also for Suzuki. I've signed my contract for the next two years and I think that when I'm riding up at the front in this period, there will now be a big market in Germany for Superbike.
You must be happy with your season so far...
In January I said to the press that I would be happy in the top 5, but now I am in the top 3, it's even better. Now I think it's possible to win the world title, but so far I've done my best. If I finish in top 5 this year, I'm happy, but for next year I will concentrate on winning the title.
Is it possible to win here this year?
The last time I raced here was in 2002 in a German championship race on the short track, I've only been on the long track once. It's nice here but not easy, also for the rain, and for the race set-up. For the Suzuki we need a lot of time to find the race set-up.
And what sort of spec does your Suzuki have?
My Suzuki is the bike from last year but inside it's all new with 2008 parts and I think it's much faster than last year's bike. I must say I'm surprised to be the top Suzuki rider this year but I'm happy.
Lap records: revised circuit
The German Round of the HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship takes place from Friday 13th through Sunday 15th June. The action starts with free practice and qualifying on the first two days, followed by WSBK Superpole on Saturday at 16.00. The two 20-lap (102.740 km) Superbike races are scheduled to run on Sunday at 12.00 and 15.30, with the 19-lap (97.603 km) Supersport race at 13.20 local time.