On To Monza

Press Release | May 6, 2009

The following is from Yamaha…The World Superbike Championship is gearing up for round five this weekend at the legendary circuit of Monza in Italy. Fresh from an adrenalin packed race weekend in Assen, the Yamaha World Superbike Team are ready for what is their home race. The Monza circuit, built in 1922 is now the oldest European circuit to still be used regularly and is steeped in tradition. There are sure to be a huge number of Yamaha supporters out in force at the weekend as the Team’s workshop is very close to the north corners of the track at Gerno di Lesmo.Whilst Monza is another new circuit for the Yamaha pair in race terms, they have had the opportunity to test here recently so will start the weekend with a much needed base set-up already in place and some understanding of the track layout. Ben Spies comes to Monza still second in the championship on 120 points, chasing leader Noriyuki Haga with a 60 point deficit and looking to close the gap. Team-mate Tom Sykes arrives at the Italian circuit in confident mood having consistently improved over the season and taken good points away from both races at Assen. As the British rider gets more familiar with the new 2009 R1, podium finishes are looking inevitable. He currently sits sixth in the standings on 70 points, leading Max Biaggi by 15 points.Spies is philosophical following a mix weekend’s action at Assen, “Assen was a really mixed bag,” he stated. “During the first race I didn’t have the same feeling I’d had all weekend on the bike and had to ride really hard through it. The second race felt really good but I made a small mistake, I barely touched the grass going in to turn one and lost it. Now we’re moving on to Monza and I’m going to ride as hard as I can as always. There will be a lot of family and friends there so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and still try to have some fun. We’ve made a couple of mistakes this year in the championship but it’s still there for the taking, just a bit further off. Hopefully both Tom and I will have a good weekend and we can fight with Nori for some points. The circuit is awesome, having tested here I can see why it’s so special so I’m really excited about turning the wheels on race day and really experiencing it.”Team-mate Tom Sykes was happy to have finally tried the classic Assen circuit. “I very much enjoyed Assen, I had wanted to race there for a long time so it was great to finally do it. I was fairly happy with the race weekend apart from the second race where I had a bad start and left myself a lot to do. Still, I’m looking forward to Monza, overall I’m feeling confident. We’ve learnt a lot recently so moving forward I think we can do well. When we tested at Monza recently I was able to run very consistent times so I think we’re on the pace for it. We’ve got a couple of changes in mind for the bike and we’ll be on for good result. It’s going to be a really exciting race as there are half a dozen riders able to do similar lap times there so it’ll be good for great battle!”Technically speaking – Monza according to Tom Houseworth (Crew chief for Ben Spies)

“Monza is one of the tracks where we have a couple days of testing under our belt so it’s a more familiar circuit to some of the others so far. The time we had there was very important as now we have what we think is a good base set up to start the weekend on our Yamaha R1. Gearing, which is critical on the circuit, should be very close and geometry and overall setup should be in the ballpark according to our data and the lap times Ben ran at the test.

The track is quite a bit different than the last round at Assen, with long straights and chicanes connecting them although surprisingly the settings are not that far from the Assen settings with just some tweaks here and there. To race well here stability on the brakes is very important as well as having the bike transition well. It should make for interesting racing as the ability to draft on the straights may allow quite a few guys to swap the lead in the race.

In terms of setting up in practice we’re going to try doing things just a bit differently this time, both bikes will start with the same basic setup and we’ll try both and see if there is any difference. If we are close on the settings we’ll chose the bike Ben is most comfortable on and fine tune from there. We are hopeful everything is close and the feeling is there so we can start looking at race rubber early and be able to adjust for track temp and conditions. Once this looks good we’ll do any fine tuning with the traction control and be ready for Sunday. Of course we want to be near the front; we’ll see how it goes! It should be a fun weekend as it’s the home race for the team and almost everyone will have friends and family there as well.”Across the water in the UK, Leon Camier is continuing to uphold the dominance of the new 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1, taking a resounding double victory at the last British Superbike round, a championship that shares the same technical regulations as World Superbike. The oldest permanent racetrack in Europe is the venue for the fifth round of the 2009 World Superbike and Supersport championships this weekend, with the 5.793km-long Autodromo Nazionale di Monza hosting the WSB series for the 18th time.The following is from Honda…Honda riders will, as ever, be in contention for the top honours in each class on raceday, Sunday 10th May, with Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) currently overall third in WSB and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) second in WSS.Because of the hip injury suffered by John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) in practice at Assen last time out, Jake Zemke moves over from the AMA series to be Haslam’s temporary team-mate this weekend, in what will be his first WSB race and his first visit to Monza.Haslam has had the most settled early season of all the supported Honda riders in World Superbike, and took another career step at the previous round in Assen, by riding to his first ever second place race finish at this level of competition.Laverty has had a truly impressive start to his rookie full-time WSS season, having secured two race wins, at Qatar and the Netherlands. He is also in close company with championship leader Carl Crutchlow’s Yamaha and has a quartet of other supported Honda riders ranged out behind him after four of 14 rounds.Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) sits only three points behind Laverty, partly due to the 2007 champion’s opening round win in Australia, while Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR), Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea CBR600RR) fill out the top six. Pitt, the defending champion, is expected to be back to his best after a crash and subsequent left hand injury at Assen.Behind Haslam in the current WSB points table Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) is the next best Honda rider in ninth and Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) is now 11th overall.Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Racing Honda CBR1000RR) rounds out the top 15 in the championship and of all the Honda riders on show he has the best memory of Monza 2008, having almost won his first race at the historic Autodromo on leg two last year.Tommy Hill (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) is 20th after a double DNF in the Netherlands, with the luckless Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Honda CBR1000RR) yet to score.In Supersport, Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR600RR) dropped to ninth overall after a DNF in the Assen race, while his fellow Honda riders Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) and Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) are also looking to get back on the score sheet at Monza.WSB Rider QuotesLeon Haslam said: “I’m really looking forward to the next round in Monza, especially after achieving such a good result at Assen. I think it might be a little bit more difficult this time because of the fast nature of the track and the fact that most of the top teams have tested there, but I like a challenge and I hope we can have a similar result if not better.”Jonathan Rea said: “Assen was much more positive for the whole team after a difficult first few rounds. Monza is very fast, which should suit the bike quite well. I didn’t have much luck last year in Supersport and lost the clutch in the race, but it’s an amazing circuit – unlike anywhere else in the world – and it has some really nice features. I’ll be going there hoping to reward my crew for all the hard work they’ve put in over the last few weeks.”Ryuichi Kiyonari said: “The last round in Assen was not so good for me. Everything was fine on the first day but after I crashed in free practice on Saturday, I lost some confidence in the front end of the machine. It returned in the second race but then I had a technical problem so was unable to use it. I like Monza and had a good result last year. It requires three days of very intense concentration but the three long straights should suit my bike, which is very fast. If I ride OK and have some luck, I think I will make a good result.”Carlos Checa said: “Last year at Monza was not so good for me so I am very confident that things will be better when we visit this season. It’s a very historic circuit and has a great name in Motorsport and it has its own special character. Our main rivals tested there before Assen but, by Saturday, I hope we’ll be up there. Everyone in the team has been working really hard and there’s a good atmosphere. I don’t think we’ll have an issue with the bike’s power so I aim to be fighting at the front in Sunday’s races.”Jake Zemke said: “I am extremely excited to race for the Stiggy Racing Honda team this weekend. They have a first-rate team and have had some excellent results. The Monza track has a deep history of racing, and I know how passionate the Italian people are about racing. I know the odds will be against us, learning a new bike, new track, new tyres, but I will give it my all at Monza for the Stiggy Racing Honda team.”Tommy Hill said: “I have never raced on the track before so I will have to familiarize myself with the circuit starting from Friday’s practice sessions. I’m eager to ride and get to know this historic circuit. After the first four rounds of my first Superbike season I’m more confident with my bike set-up and at Monza I want to qualify for Superpole, because I would like to take home two good results for my team and for all my sponsors.”The following is from BMW….The fifth round of this year’s Superbike World Championship takes place at the historic Autodromo di Monza and both BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus are looking forward to tackling the 5.793 kilometre circuit.It is one of the few circuits in this year’s calendar where the team have tested already and so, for once, they will be not be starting at a big disadvantage. Monza is renowned for its high speed straights and close finishes and last year’s first race saw the top four separated by just 0.771 at the flag. Race two’s top three were covered by 0.051, with the winner taking the chequered flag by only 0.009 of a second!Troy

At least we have tested at Monza this year, so we will not be trying to play catch-up as much as we have to do normally. Monza has some fast straights and is a track where slipstreaming can play an important part. It’s possible to be in fourth place exiting the Ascari chicane on the last lap and still win if you can take advantage of the draft. But, before we even get to that stage, we have to be in a good qualifying situation. Superpole has not worked out well for us so far and considering that, I think we’ve done well to get the top tens we have. I hope that we can qualify better at Monza and get even better results.Ruben

Each time out we learn something new about the bike and get ideas about what to do to make it better. The other teams have a big history compared to us and so I feel we have done very well so far. But that doesn’t mean that we all don’t want more, because of course we do. Our top tens are very good, but Troy and I are racers and we are always want to higher finishes. If we can get a good set-up early on (and I can get rid of my ‘black Fridays’), and do well in Superpole, then we might have a better chance of good results.Berti Hauser (Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport)

Monza will be interesting for sure, but at least we have been there before. Even so, the experience we gained in our two day test is relatively small compared to our competitors and so we need to do well in practice and qualifying. Superpole has been a problem for us so far and we haven’t been able to get the bike to perform consistently well enough on qualifying tyres in Q1 and Q2. It would be good to get into Q1 and not have to start from the back of the grid for a change. If we could do that, it would be very interesting to see what would happen.The following is from Suzuki…Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Max Neukirchner won his first ever WSBK race at Monza last year and is hoping that history will repeat itself this coming Sunday at the 5.793 kilometre circuit. His win in the first race was the first by a German rider in the 21-year history of the series and was followed by a superb runner-up spot in race two.Team mate Yukio Kagayama had a mixed day last year, taking fourth in race one and a DNF in race two, and is hoping for an improvement this time round.Max

Last year was a wonderful occasion for me and I will never forget my first win in World Superbikes. They always say that the first win is the hardest and really I should have got it in Valencia when I was on the way to victory when I go knocked off within sight of the chequered flag.

It’s important to have a fast bike at Monza and know how to play the slipstreaming game. It’s easy to be at the front of the pack and lose out on the draft and get beaten to the flag, so it’s something you have to watch out for. I like fast tracks and I think our bike will be well-suited to Monza. For sure, my intention is to finish on the podium in both races and if I can repeat my win of last year, I would be very happy.Yukio

My season has been a bit up and down and this does not make me so happy so far. I have a good bike and know my results should be a lot better. Sometimes the bike is not so easy because some little changes can produce big effects – and not always in the right direction. But my job is to race, so I and the team have to find ways of making the bike work better so that I can challenge the podium again. This is what I want, and I will do my best to try and achieve it.The following is from Ducati…Eight of the 2009 World Superbike season’s twenty-eight races have already been run and Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga has powered his Ducati 1198 machine as far as the podium in 100% of the races held so far, winning four of them and finishing second in the rest. Next stop Monza, the first of three “home” rounds for the Italian factory squad and their riders, particularly for Noriyuki who resides in Milan.

Noriyuki has led this season’s championship right from the opening round and now holds a 60-point advantage over the chasing pack while Michel’s strong results at Valencia and Assen mean that he maintains his fourth place on the leader board. At this stage last year, heading into fifth round Monza, Noriyuki and Michel found themselves in sixth and thirteenth place respectively in the classification, so for both riders the situation at this point is already much improved with respect to 2008. At the latest round, held two weeks ago in Assen, Noriyuki took his fourth win of the season and a second place while Michel boosted his points total by finishing the two races in ninth and fourth position.Last month the Ducati Xerox factory squad completed a successful two-day test session at Monza’s Autodromo Nazionale and thus hopes that the work carried out during those days will come to fruition this weekend.

For Noriyuki the event is as close to a “home” race as he gets as, although there is no Japanese round, he has been a resident of Milan for several years, meaning that support for Nitro-Nori, and his Italian team-mate Michel, will definitely not be in short supply.

It is interesting to note that the track has, historically, been extremely kind to the Ducati factory squad, with riders Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson, Régis Laconi and Troy Bayliss having tallied up six double wins between them since 1999.In his role as Ducati ambassador, reigning Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss will also be present at the track this weekend to support both Noriyuki and Michel and meet with the countless Ducatisti who, in turn, can benefit this year from a dedicated Ducati grandstand, “Ducati Village” and bike park.Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 180 points)Nori’s recent results at Monza have been outstanding with three wins and a second place finish in the last four races held here in 2008 and 2007, a similar result this year would certainly boost his points advantage. “We did some testing at Monza recently and it was my first chance to rider the 1198 there. Although we had a few problems, I know these will be resolved for the race weekend. I am already really excited about the Monza race. I am not thinking about the possibility of winning the championship, I just think about each race, taking one weekend at a time. Of course at Monza I hope to win again, especially because it is my home circuit!”Michel Fabrizio (4th in championship, 80 points)Michel won the Superstock 1000 round here in 2003, the year he went on to take the title in that category, but has not been back on the podium since. “I am in a hopeful mood ahead of Monza, the first of three “home” races so I want to do well of course. We’ve done some testing there and the results of those tests were very positive. The tyres that Pirelli provided us with performed well and we hope this is the case during the race weekend too. A year ago I finished Race 2 here in fifth place, let’s say that this time around I hope to dramatically improve on that result in front of the Italian fans.”

By Press Release