HONDA’S CHARPENTIER SCOOPS FIRST PODIUM
Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier took his first World Supersport championship podium finish with third place in Sunday’s eighth round of the championship at Brands Hatch, GB.
Charpentier finished behind winner Stephane Chambon and runner-up Jurgen van den Goorbergh as he took the Klaffi CBR600RR machine to third place. He said: “I felt I could get a good finish today but you never really know until the race is under way.
“I got into third place and although the race was red-flagged with a lap to go I don’t really think I could have got ahead of van den Goorbergh, he looked smooth and in the end I was happy to take third place for my team.”
Ten Kate Honda’s Karl Muggeridge held second place in the early stages before settling for fourth place and 13 world championship points, the Australian commented: “I chose the wrong rear race tyre and within five laps the rear started spinning. From that moment on I just wanted to finish the race.”
Behind fifth-placed Fabien Foret came championship leader Chris Vermeulen, taking sixth place on his Ten Kate Honda to maintain a 37-point lead in the series with three rounds to go.
“I went for the wrong rear race tyre and I knew early on that the race was going to be a struggle,” said Vermeulen. “The temperature was a lot higher today and it caught us out with tyre choice. It’s disappointing but there are some races when finishing is important today was one of those.”
The German Yamaha pairing of Christian Kellner and Jorg Teuchert finished seventh and eighth respectively with Suzuki¹s Katsuaki Fujiwara ninth and Alessio Corradi 10th.
Iain MacPherson took the Van Zon Honda to 11th place despite brake trouble for the Scotsman, he explained: “My right arm pumped up after about nine laps when the brake was coming back to the handlebar, I was in agony at the end.”
The BKM pairing of Christophe Cogan and Broc Parkes completed the list of points scorers, taking 14th and 15th places respectively, Cogan said: “I found the race very difficult. The suspension didn’t feel quite right and, as soon as I let the brake off, the machine was moving around too much in the corner.”
Parkes commented: “I’ve had one of those weekends to forget. The exhaust developed a crack so I lost a little bit of power but I wanted to finish in the points and I just made it. In the last round I was in with a chance to win with five laps to go and then this weekend I’ve struggled that’s supersport for you.”
Robert Ulm took 18th place on the second of the Klaffi Hondas, the Austrian rider admitted: “The feeling from the machine wasn’t quite right and I found it difficult to push hard. It really was a struggle throughout and that really sums up my weekend here.”
Van Zon Honda’s Werner Daemen escaped injury when he crashed out of the race on the 12th lap, the diminutive Belgian explained: “I was struggling to select third gear and the machine dropped back into second gear on the left-hander after Druids.”
World Supersport championship race result (23 laps 88.137km):
1 StephaneChambon, France (Suzuki) 31m 28.121s,
2 Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Holland(Yamaha) +7.045s,
3 Sebastien Charpentier, France (Honda) +7.310s,
4 KarlMuggeridge, Australia (Honda) +10.796s,
5 Fabien Foret, France (Kawasaki)+12.081s,
6 Chris Vermeulen, Australia (Honda) +14.390s,
7 ChristianKellner, Germany (Yamaha) +14.509s,
8 Jorg Teuchert, Germany (Yamaha)+14.693s,
9 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan (Suzuki) +15.360s,
10 Alessio Corradi,Italy (Yamaha) +22.659s.
11 Iain MacPherson, GB (Honda) +24.199s.
14 Christophe Cogan, France (Honda)+27.416s.
15 Broc Parkes, Australia (Honda) +31.475s.
18 Robert Ulm, Austria(Honda) +39.929s.
World Supersport Championship points after eight of 11 rounds:
2 Van den Goorbergh 104,
3 Fujiwara 103,
4 Chambon 100,
5 Kellner 78,
7 Muggeridge 59,
8 Foret 54,
9 Teuchert and Pere Riba, Spain(Kawasaki) 49.
11 Parkes 47. 12 Cogan 44.
13 Charpentier 37.
14 MacPherson 23.
15 Ulm 22.21 Werner Daemen, Belgium (Honda)
1 Honda 172,
2 Suzuki 147,
3 Yamaha 141,
Next round: September 7 Assen, Holland
CHARPENTIER SCALES THE PODIUM FOR HONDA
French rider Sebastien Charpentier (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR) delivered on the great potential he has shown this season with a fine third place finish, marching from fifth on lap one in a consistent attack around the modified Brands Hatch circuit. Sixth place for Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was enough to push him further ahead in the world championship battle, even if he had to give best on the day to his team-mate Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR), who finished fourth. The scheduled 23 lap race was cut to 21 after an accident in which Kawasaki rider Stefano Cruciani went under the airfence and was struck by his own machine – with such force that his back protector was snapped clean through – although Cruciani was uninjured. Local British rider Ian Macpherson (van Zon Honda CBR600RR) missed out on a top ten finish by one place, 24 seconds down on the leaders. The last points on offer were taken by the BKM Honda CBR600RR pairing of Christophe Cogan (14th) and Broc Parkes (15th). Werner Daemen fell on the 12th lap, due to gearbox selection problems. After a wet and dry couple of days of qualifying, which put eventual race winner Stephane Chambon (Suzuki) on pole, many teams found tyre and set-up problems – due to a simple shortage of dry track time. The track temperatures on raceday were also significantly higher than during Saturday’s dry qualifying session, and thus tyre choice was to become crucial. Charpentier was particularly pleased to have scored his first podium place in a season in which he came to the championship as a substitute rider for his Klaffi Honda team. “I had a good feeling with the bike throughout the race, said Charpentier. “The choice of race tyre was very difficult because of the rain but in the end my choice was good. The Pirelli was very consistent and I am happy with the result.” Muggeridge found unexpected tyre problems, wishing he had gone for a softer tyre. “The bike was working well but I just couldn’t get the power to the ground very well,” he said. “From the beginning it was already starting to slide but I thought it would stay that way and no more but after about eight laps it started to spin. It was down to choice because some of the other guys chose a stage softer Pirelli and theirs seemed to work better.” Vermeulen was disappointed but philosophical to not improve on his fourth place qualifying position, hoping in vain to add to his four race winning total. “The main factor today was tyres,” he stated. “I think we picked the wrong one because Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s seemed to be working a lot better than ours. The lack of dry track time also made it difficult for us all. It just wasn’t so good today – but it could have been a lot worse because we still have a good championship lead.” Macpherson suffered the after effects of a crash in timed qualifying, finding his set-up imperfect and running into some unforeseen physical problems. “I was struggling a bit,” said the Scot. “I had a problem with the front brake coming back to the bar and I also had arm pump. I’m disappointed because I know I can ride faster. We had to guess the gearing after a crash in qualifying and I was having to learn the gearbox out there in the race.” Cogan, was another with set-up woes and at a very demanding Brands Hatch circuit, he paid a price for them. “I found the race very difficult,” he explained. “The suspension didn’t feel quite right and as soon as I let the brake off the machine was moving around a lot in the corners.” Another hard day in the office for Parkes was something of a disappointment at a track he has enjoyed little luck at in the past. He suspected a cracked exhaust. “We’ve had a few problems with the bike this weekend and I just wasn’t confident,” said the Aussie. “After about five laps the bike got really loud, I think it was a cracked exhaust. We didn’t have the best setting and Brands Hatch is not my best track. I’d like to go fast but it never seems to work here.” Ulm was disappointed to suffer his third no score of the year. “The feeling from the machine wasn’t quite right and I found it difficult to push hard. It really was a struggle throughout and that sums up my weekend here.” Daemen escaped injury after a fast fall, and explained it thus: “I am OK but I had problems with the gearbox. I had trouble changing down from third to second gear. I came down into Graham Hill Bend, mid-corner the bike dropped into second and I was high sided.” After round eight of the total 11, Vermeulen leads new second place rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh by an impressive 37 points, 141 to 104. Katsuaki Fujiwara moves to third on 103 with Chambon on 100. Muggeridge is the next best placed Honda rider behind Vermeulen, seventh overall on 59 points. In the ninth round of the World Superbike Championship Superpole winner John Reynolds was in contention for the race win in the first 25-lap leg, but like Ruben Xaus (Ducati) shortly afterwards; he was forced to retire with mechanical problems. Local wild card rider Shane Byrne (Ducati) scored the race win, from championship leader Neil Hodgson (Ducati) and regular SBK Brit Chris Walker (Ducati). Byrne’s best lap time is the new SBK lap record, 1:26.755. In the second race Byrne was once more successful, but he had to fend off the attention of Reynolds on the final lap to take his second career Superbike win – a scant few hours after the first. James Toseland (Ducati) scored third place, for another all-British rostrum party. Hodgson improved his points gap over Xaus once more, 386 to 246. It is not quite enough to give Hodgson the world championship but with a gap of 140 points and only a possible 150 remaining, the result is now almost a foregone conclusion. Toseland sits third on 227, Laconi fourth on 208.
Supersport and Superbike classes return to the fray at Assen on September 7.
RACE : (Laps 21 = 88,137 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team /Gap
1/S. CHAMBON/FRA/Alstare Suzuki/31m 28.121s
2/J. VD GOORBERGH/NED/Yamaha Belgarda/7.045
3/S. CHARPENTIER/FRA/Team Klaffi Honda/7.310
4/K. MUGGERIDGE/AUS/Ten Kate Honda/10.796
5/F. FORET/FRA/Kawasaki R.T. KRT/12.081
6/C. VERMEULEN/AUS/Ten Kate Honda/14.390
7/C. KELLNER/GER/Yamaha Deutschland/14.509
8/J. TEUCHERT/GER/Yamaha Deutschland/14.693
9/K. FUJIWARA/JPN/Alstare Suzuki/15.360
10/A. CORRADI/ITA/Italia Spadaro F.R./22.659
11/I. MACPHERSON/GBR/Van Zon Honda T.K.R./24.199
13/P. RIBA/ESP/Kawasaki R.T. KRT/26.753
14/C.COGAN/FRA/Dark Dog Honda BKM/27.416
15/B. PARKES/AUS/Dark Dog Honda BKM/31.475
Fastest Lap= 6° Stéphane Chambon 1’29.149 169,483 Km/h
Riders Championship Standings:
1 VERMEULEN 141, 2 VD GOORBERGH 104, 3 FUJIWARA 103, 4 CHAMBON 100,
5 KELLNER 78, 6 CORRADI 63, 7 MUGGERIDGE 59, 8 FORET 54, 9 TEUCHERT 49,
10 RIBA 49, 11 PARKES 47, 12 COGAN 44, 13 CHARPENTIER 37, 14 MACPHERSON 23,
15 ULM 22..
1 HONDA 172, 2 SUZUKI 147, 3 YAMAHA 141, 4 KAWASAKI 86..
Race 1: (Laps 25 = 104,925 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team /Gap
1/S. BYRNE/GBR/Monstermob Ducati/36’25.400
3/C.WALKER/GBR/HM Plant Ducati/5.918
4/R. LACONI/FRA/Caracchi NCR Nortel Net./6.808
5/S. EMMETT/GBR/ETI Racing/9.663
6/J. TOSELAND/GBR/HM Plant Ducati/9.926
9/P. CHILI/ITA/Team PSG-1/32.724
10/Y. KAGAYAMA/JPN/Rizla Suzuki/36.218
11/D. ELLISON/GBR/Firepower Ducati/45.798
12/J. BORJA/ESP/D.F.X. Racing Team/52.302
13/I. CLEMENTI/ITA/Kawasaki Bertocchi/53.241
14/S. MARTIN/AUS/D.F.X. Racing Team/54.176
Fastest Lap =13° Shane Byrne 1’26.755 174,159 Km/h
Race 2 : (Laps 25 = 104,925 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team /Gap
1/S. BYRNE/GBR/Monstermob Ducati/36’25.639
2/J. REYNOLDS/GBR/Rizla Suzuki/0.539
3/J. TOSELAND/GBR/HM Plant Ducati/2.891
4/R. XAUS/ESP/Ducati Fila/4.862
7/P. CHILI/ITA/Team PSG-1/16.049
8/R. LACONI/FRA/Caracchi NCR Nortel Net./17.771
9/Y. KAGAYAMA/JPN/Rizla Suzuki/29.290
10/L. HASLAM/GBR/Renegade Ducati/31.484
11/A. GRAMIGNI/ITA/Nuvolari 391/1’02.420
12/D. ELLISON/GBR/Firepower Ducati/1’02.453
13/I. CLEMENTI/ITA/Kawasaki Bertocchi/1’02.749
14/M.BORCIANI/ITA/D.F.X. Racing Team/1’03.308
Fastest Lap =12° John Reynolds 1’26.767 174,135 Km/h
Riders Championship Standings:
1 HODGSON 386, 2 XAUS 246, 3 TOSELAND 227, 4 LACONI 208, 5 LAVILLA 185,
6 WALKER 172, 7 CHILI 159, 8 MARTIN 97, 9 BORCIANI 95, 10 PEDERCINI 91,
11 SANCHINI 70, 12 CORSER 64, 13 BORJA 59, 14 BUSSEI 52, 15 BYRNE 50.
1 DUCATI 450, 2 SUZUKI 235, 3 KAWASAKI 84, 4 PETRONAS 75, 5 YAMAHA 50, 6 HONDA 25.
BYRNE DOUBLES UP!
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne made unique history at Brands Hatch today when he became the first ever British wild card rider to score a double victory when he added a thrilling race two win to his first ever World Superbike Championship triumph in front of another massive crowd.
The leader of the British Superbike Championship followed up an easy win in the opening leg with a harder fought victory in race two to outline his class and more importantly, show the series regulars he means business when he makes the jump to a full time berth in the world championship next season.
The Minster, Isle of Sheppey rider took the lead on lap eleven and had to fend off a concerted late challenge from fellow wild card John Reynolds on his Suzuki to claim another fantastic win, this time by a mere half a second but understandably, he was ecstatic with the performance of his career to date:
“This has to be one of the best days I can remember. I knew it would be hard but it was tougher than I expected, especially in race two but I’m absolutely made up. It was vitally important to do well and I’m glad the weather held out but this is going to stay with me for a long, long time” said Byrne who led home yet another all British rostrum.
Team boss Paul Bird was overjoyed at his rider’s performances which he said ranked alongside the highlights of his own illustrious career
“Days don’t come any better than this. This has got to be up there with the best and I’m so pleased for Shakey and the team as well. They all did a fantastic job under a lot of pressure and it just goes to show how good our team is at this level” said the Penrith poultry magnate.
MONSTERMOB DUCATI BRITISH SUPERBIKE TEAM
Round 9 – 2003 World Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th July 2003
BYRNE BLASTS TO RACE ONE WIN AT BRANDS
British Superbike Championship leader Shane Byrne produced one of the performances of his life to take his debut win in the World Superbike Championship with a superb victory in the opening race at Brands Hatch today.
The 26-year-old from the Isle of Sheppey blasted from the front row to hit the front in the early stages as he and BSB rival John Reynolds pulled clear of the series regulars. Byrne took the lead and immediately pulled out a gap before Reynolds went out leaving ‘Shakey’ with a three-second lead.
Courtesy of a new lap record, Byrne piled on the pressure to increase his lead as series leader Neil Hodgson and fellow FO2 rider Chris Walker battled for the remaining rostrum places.
To the cheers of the 100,000 plus crowd, local boy Byrne ended up seven seconds to the good to claim his and the Paul Bird Motorsport team’s first ever World Championship victory in readiness for a full season in WSB next year.
“I can’t believe it, this is unreal. I just kept my head down and saw that I had a half second lead and then the next thing, it was three seconds and it kept going up from there. I saw I was catching James Haydon in the final laps and it must have distracted me as I nearly ran off the track but what a feeling, I’m absolutely made up” said Byrne.
Team owner Paul Bird was naturally elated at his team’s performance:
“I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life. What a superb result and all we have to do now is repeat that in the second race” said the Cumbrian Businessman.
Race One result:
- Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati)
- Neil Hodgson (Ducati)
- Chris Walker (Ducati)
- Regis Laconi (Ducati)
- Sean Emmett (Ducati)
- James Toseland (Ducati)
Toseland completes all-British podium
James Toseland rode hard to take third place in an ultra-competitive second Superbike World Championship race at Brands Hatch. His bravery and determination capped a great weekend for HM Plant Ducati by giving the team its second podium of the day, at the biggest event in Superbike racing.
Chris Walker continued his impressive return to form, but after running at the front in the early stages of the race and looking likely to at least match his previous result, he was unfortunate enough to crash out on lap 14.
As in race one, wild card entrant Shane Byrne showed the World Superbike regulars the way around his local circuit on his way to a popular double win. Unlike in the first race however, he was pushed all the way by fellow British Superbike Championship rider John Reynolds. He also came under the close scrutiny of the HM Plant Ducati duo.
Early in the race it was Walker who made the running, fighting valiantly to maintain the lightening quick pace demonstrated by the leading pack. A good start combined with some brave and committed moves put him in contention for another podium finish. Unfortunately, the Nottinghamshire-born rider pushed just a little too hard in the later stages and his race ended in the gravel trap.
“It’s been an important weekend for me,” said Walker. “I’ve really found my form. I was desperate to improve on my third place in the first race, but it seems that I paid the price for trying too hard. I’ve got to say that the fans who turned out today were incredible. They gave me a real boost and I gave them 100 per cent effort in return.”
James Toseland was very pleased to have improved on his race one performance in front of the expectant British crowd. There was no doubting how hard the 22-year-old rising star was riding and the fact that plumes of blue smoke often issued from his spinning back tyre as he lit it up on the way out of numerous corners, confirmed this in no uncertain terms.
“I really enjoyed it but that was actually a pretty tricky race for me,” said Toseland. “We made a slight change to the rear beforehand and it worked well, but the action was pretty intense. I got a much better start than in the last race and tagged along with Shane Byrne and John Reynolds, but in the end I just couldn’t overhaul them – although I did give it a go. Fair play to those two though, they were both on great form and rode a faultless race, which is what you have to do to win at this level.
“It’s been a great weekend and the crowd here was simply amazing. To have three Brits on the podium is fantastic for them and it really lifted us to hear everyone cheering us on like that. Basically, I just wanted to do well because I know that the HM Plant Ducati team is capable of winning and so am I. At the start of the season I said that my aim was to finish in the top three of the championship – now I’m gunning for second.”
The Superbike World Championship now takes a short break before round ten at Assen on 5-7 September.
Walker on top form at Brands
Chris Walker made it two podiums from the last two races when he scorched to a hard earned third place finish in race one at Brands Hatch. The HM Plant Ducati rider underlined his return to form with a spectacular battling display to join race winner Shane Byrne and Neil Hodgson on an all-British podium – much to the delight of the 120,000-strong crowd.
Walker got a good start to maintain his grid position of second and tucked in behind early race leader John Reynolds. However, wild card rider and runaway British Superbike Championship leader Byrne was a man on a mission and quickly forced his way past the pair and disappeared into the distance. Reynolds was the only other rider able to keep the pressure on Byrne and when he retired with mechanical problems – followed a little later by Ruben Xaus – Walker looked set for a second place finish.
Despite eventually being overtaken by Hodgson, the HM Plant Ducati rider kept second place in his sights right to the last, doggedly harrying the factory Ducati ace all the way to the line. The old rivals had the frantic British crowd on its feet as they diced all the way around the legendary GP circuit, with Hodgson eventually winning the drag to the line.
“There’s just something about Brands Hatch that makes every single second of the race special,” said Walker. “I really enjoyed scrapping with Neil too – each of us had sections of the track where we were faster than the other, but when I tried to get back past him at the end my rear tyre was spinning like mad and I had to settle for third. It feels great to be back on the podium at Brands and I’m really glad that we’ve still got another race to go.”
Things didn’t exactly go to plan for Walker’s team-mate James Toseland, who finished the race in sixth place. After losing out when the speeding pack barreled into Paddock Hill bend for the first time, he put on a determined show to claw back places and emerged victorious from an epic race-long battle with Gregorio Lavilla. The 22-year-old Yorkshireman refused to give up and was closing on wild card rider Sean Emmett for fifth place when the pair passed the chequered flag.
“I got a good start but then got boxed in on the first turn,” said Toseland. “The problem with starting on the inside of the grid at this track is that riders can blast by on the outside and block you into the turn. In the end it’s my fault because I didn’t qualify properly. But on the other hand, I beat my nearest championship rival, and the guy ahead of me in the points didn’t finish the race, so it’s not such a bad result. I was feeling pretty comfortable once I got past the riders that were holding me up and I’m hopeful of a better result in the next one.”
FRONT ROW FOR BYRNE
British Superbike Championship leader Shane Byrne left it until the final throes of qualifying once again to slot the MonsterMob Ducati onto the front row for tomorrow’s round of the World Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch.
Following last weekend’s effort in the dying seconds at Mondello Park to take pole position, the 26 year old Isle of Sheppey rider was languishing down in ninth position during the latter stages of this afternoon’s wet Superpole when he pulled out a superb lap to claim his first ever world championship front row start.
But the gamble to wait to see if the track dried out nearly backfired when the light drizzle turned to heavy rain meaning ‘Shakey’ had to cast care to the wind as he slithered around the Kent circuit
“I thought that starting from row three wasn’t going to be too clever so I took my brain out again. I was well out of control for most of those final laps but it had to be done. We’ll see what the weather brings tomorrow but I’m confident of doing OK wet or dry” said Byrne.
Team boss Paul Bird was satisfied with Byrne’s performance but rued a missed opportunity:
“We missed the boat by a few minutes and that cost us a shot at pole. Still we’re thereabouts and I’m happy with a front row start and just so long as we don’t have weather problems, we’ll be fine. It wants to be wet or dry, not a mixture of both” said the Penrith businessman.
- John Reynolds (Suzuki)
- Chris Walker (Ducati)
- Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati)
- Regis Laconi (Ducati)
BYRNE TAKES ON THE WORLD
Runaway British Superbike Championship leader Shane Byrne heads to Brands Hatch this weekend determined to impress on the world stage when round nine of the World Superbike Championship visits the UK for the second time this season.
The MonsterMob Ducati ace missed the earlier Silverstone WSB round due to the team’s prior commitment at the Isle of Man TT Races but the 26 year old Isle of Sheppey rider so is planning on upstaging some of the series regulars at his home track:
“It’s going to be tough but I’m going into the meeting on a positive note and I hope to be up there challenging for race wins. I’ve already won on the circuit this season and we have a good set up so there are no reasons why I can’t be competitive. Podiums would be good but a race win would be even better” said wild card entry ‘Shakey’.
So far this season Byrne has won nine out if the sixteen races to date in the British Superbike Championship on his factory specification F02 but hasn’t topped the rostrum for the last five races, instead settling for safe points in his bid to land his first major title.
Supersport team mate Stuart Easton was hoping to get a last minute entry after a superb performance at Mondello Park last weekend but his application was rejected due to the number of available places on the grid already being allocated.
For team boss Paul Bird, he’s hoping for a couple of good results having made his intentions known that he plans to compete in the World Superbike Championship full time next season.
“It’s important that we go and put on a good show and get our first taste this season of world championship action. We haven’t done the last two WSB in this country on the superbike so it will be interesting to see how we and the rest of the wild cards fare. Success will be a welcome detraction but our main aim is the British Championship this season” said Bird who jets straight form Brands to compete in the Manx International Rally next week at the wheel of a Works Hyundai Accent World Rally Car.
World Supersport Championship 2003 – Round Eight
Brands Hatch Race Preview
25 – 27 July 2003
HONDA MEN HEAD FOR THE BIGGEST RACE OF THE YEAR
Round eight of the World Supersport championship takes place under English skies on Sunday 27 July, at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, a place the World Championship leader Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) knows particularly well.
Vermeulen may have been on the World scene for the past few years, but he cut his racing teeth in the British Championships after moving to the UK from his native Australia to advance his career. The young Aussie, only 21-years-old, has won four races so far this season, maturing into his long-standing status of championship leader as each race weekend has passed by.
Even allowing for a fall in the last round, Vermeulen still leads the championship by a healthy 35 points, and all despite the niggling complications of a dislocated right thumb, picked up way back at round four.
“I’ve been getting a lot of physio but it is still dislocated,” said Vermeulen. “It isn’t painful at all so I can still ride a bike. Considering what happened in Misano I am really pleased to come back from the summer break with a strong lead in the championship. If I can come away from Brands with a good top five finish I’ll be happy.”
Vermeulen may face his stiffest test yet at Brands, a track which has a habit of delivering close WSS races in recent years. The circuit layout has been subtly altered at the approach to Dingle Dell and it will be another challenge for the mass of Supersport riders to learn, especially at what is one of the most difficult circuits imaginable.
“I heard that the there are changes at Brands Hatch so I am looking forward to seeing them,” continued Vermeulen. “I understand it’s not that much different, so that should be good. I finished eighth there last year, in the really difficult race with four starts. I like the track and it’s really cool having over 100,000 people packed in around the place. The track layout itself is not my favourite one but it is up there. It’s technical and it does take a lot of time to learn. In my first year I wasn’t the quickest there.”
Commitment and rhythm are two prerequisites each rider must possess to be in with a chance of a podium at Brands, and in the strong line up of eight Honda supported riders, there are several who have already passed the test well enough to have taken podiums of some colour in national and international competition.
Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) is a former WSS winner at Brands, a fact that gives him a fillip going into this weekend.
“I was the first ever rider to win on a CBR Honda in World Supersport and it was my first WSS win as well, so I have good memories of the place. It should work out all right for us this weekend but you always have to play it by ear.”
Like Vermeulen, Muggeridge has had some exposure to his race machine during the short mid-season break in the Supersport calendar, after the last race at Misano on June 22.
“It was good to get out on the bike again before we head off to Brands but it was just a bit of steady going at the Honda rider day in Assen – nothing too stressful. It would have been good to have more of a test.”
Sitting one place ahead of Muggeridge, seventh in the championship table, is another fast Aussie, Broc Parkes (BKM Honda CBR600RR). A Supersport rookie this season Parkes scored a podium finish at the last round, boosting his morale at a crucial time in his development as a Supersport competitor.
“For the team, the sponsors and myself, the podium finish was important and I’m delighted to finally get to sample the podium at World Championship level,” said Parkes. “Next time I intend to be up a step or two! I’ve been using the gap in the calendar since Misano to work hard on my fitness to ensure that I put on a good show at Brands Hatch.”
Parkes’ more experienced BKM Honda team-mate Christophe Cogan will be going out to battle his way into the top ten of the championship at Brands.
“I’m not too far off in the championship, eleventh, and between seventh and the twelfth place in the series there are only five points of a gap. Everything is possible and my objective remains to be in the top ten,” said Cogan.
Robert Ulm (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR) has great experience in World Superbike but this is his first year as a World Supersport factory supported rider. Thirteenth overall at present his form has varied, although his determination to succeed remains constant.
“I have not had any races or tests since Misano – only in my head,” quipped Ulm in the run up to the season re-start. “I like Brands, especially because of the big crowd but I have never been on a Supersport bike there before. I have three days of holiday in Italy before I fly to England, so I should be fully rested and prepared.”
For Sebastien Charpentier, Ulm’s team-mate, Brands Hatch is a short hop across the La Manche, and a hop that he always enjoys. “I like Brands Hatch and the atmosphere is just incredible at this race.” Sitting in 14th place after being a mid-season inductee into his Austrian based team, Charpentier will be looking for his first podium of the year.
Iain Macpherson (van Zon Honda CBR600RR) has already scored a third place this season, and is a previous Brands podium finisher to boot. Macpherson will be at the same disadvantage as his peer group in terms of learning the new section of the Brands circuit, however, but he thinks that few will have any problems with it.
“I haven’t seen the track mods at Brands in person but it seems to be only the top end of Dingle Dell, so it’s shouldn’t be that different. It looks quite good from what I’ve seen on TV,” confirmed the 1999 championship runner-up. “I was racing in Belgium at Zolder recently and I was only two seconds behind the leader, so I’ve had a good chance to sharpen up again for Brands – I feel pretty good on the bike already.”
Werner Daemen, Macpherson’s team-mate has enjoyed the perfect preparation for the Brands weekend, posting the best possible showing at the aforementioned Zolder race.
“Our preparations for Brands have gone well, especially by winning a race a few days ago in my national championship. I think that shows we are sharp and ready for the next round.”
Another long break in race action will feature after Brands, with the next round coming at Assen on 7 September.