News 30 Sep 2009

WSBK: Honda riders hope to bounce back at Magny-Cours


Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) will be out to have a less turbulent raceday at Magny-Cours this weekend than he had last time out at Imola, but the overall aim will be the same – to get back to winning form.

Having scored two race wins in his rookie WSB year, Rea is fourth in the championship, but after seventh and sixth place finishes in Imola last weekend he is now out to defend this ranking against Max Biaggi, who drew to within six points of Rea at the Italian track.

In the Supersport World Championship Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) overcame physical problems in Imola to get to within two points of the championship lead when Cal Crutchlow fell and no-scored, opening up the two-man championship fight once more. Second at Imola, Laverty will be out to secure his first win since Kyalami to overhaul Crutchlow, with the current points gap at the top of the series 210 to 208.

Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) has regained his front-running consistency in the last few races, but needs to post some impressive podium finishes in France to give him a chance to improve on his current sixth place championship ranking. Haslam will fly solo for the Stiggy team once again this weekend.

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was a delighted winner of the Imola race and the most successful winning rider in the history of the Supersport World Championship is confident he can challenge again in the last two races of the year, at Magny-Cours and Portimao.

Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) is currently sixth in the World Supersport standings, despite never quite getting to a set-up that allows his prodigious talents to shine brightly. He is tied on 104 points with Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) with the 2001 and 2008 champion having now found a set-up breakthrough that gives him confidence for the French round.

Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) had a great fourth place from a relatively lowly qualifying place in WSB race one at Imola and he now has designs on an overall championship top ten finish. He is now 11th, only eight points from Shane Byrne.

Proven race winner Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) is now 36 points behind Haslam in the overall WSB rankings having been as far down as 14th in this year of suspension transition for his team. He will be out for podiums five and six in his second WSB season this weekend.

Popular Portuguese rider Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) took his first top ten in WSS at the last round, and this has inspired him to push for even more at the French round.

Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR600RR) has been forced to drop to the Supersport class at this event because he was a competitor in the Superbike class at the Bol d’Or Endurance race recently. He will therefore tie-up with his old team-mate Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) at this race, promoting Italian rider Flavio Gentile (Althea Honda CBR1000RR) into the Superbike wing of his new team.


Jonathan Rea: “My memories of Magny-Cours are not so great because I got taken out in the Supersport race last year, but I’m feeling pretty confident going there with the CBR1000RR this weekend. The bike has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few races and there’s a really good working relationship going on with the team now.
I was pretty disappointed with the results last weekend at Imola, which didn’t reflect all the hard work that the team has done or the pace that we showed during practice and qualifying. I’ll be looking for something better this weekend, for sure.”

Leon Haslam: “The team has had a turbulent time of late but there was a really genuine team spirit in Imola last weekend and I’m sure that will carry us through the final two rounds. I missed out on challenging for the front row by just 0.05s in Imola last Saturday so we’re very close to being there on a regular basis now and I just need to ensure I get the clean, fast laps when I need to on the two qualifying tyres we’re allowed. Magny-Cours provides a technical test for us in terms of set-up but I’m pretty confident that we can find a good race setting and be near the front in Sunday’s two races.”

Carlos Checa: “Imola was not a good representation of the recent improvement in the bike, which was shown with good results at Brno and Nürburgring. Still, we will go to Magny-Cours with the positives from those results and there were also some good things from last weekend which we can use in France. It is a circuit that should suit the bike and, the way the team is working now, I believe we should be fighting at the front again this weekend.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari: “I crashed in a test at Magny-Cours last year and I broke my collarbone so the memory is painful! I was not able to take part in the races so I am looking forward to this weekend. In spite of the crash in race two at Imola, last weekend was very positive. We found a good setting for the races which allowed me to ride the way I like and I had quite a good result in the first race with fifth place.”

Flavio Gentile: “I have never raced at Magny-Cours before so I must familiarize myself with this new circuit starting from Friday’s free practices. I am familiar with the Honda CBR1000RR because I am using it in the Italian Superbike Championship and I know the team’s technical staff and I am sure they will help me in this new and exciting experience.”

WSS Rider Comments

Eugene Laverty: “I had some problems with old injuries in Imola but it will be OK in France, because I will have a chance to do my usual warm-up routine. Racing is a funny business because Cal (Crutchlow) has been strong lately and it has been difficult to get close to him. So for me to get to within two points of him with only two rounds remaining is fantastic. I hope I can fight for the championship now.”

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I was very happy to win again in Imola and to take the record of Supersport victories. I was also very happy to confirm that I will be riding in the championship again next year with the Ten Kate team. Now, with three wins in the championship this year, I can push very hard to hold on to third place and do my best to help Honda to win another title. We have had some problems this year but now the bike finally feels like it is good again and I would like to finish the season with three wins from three races.”

Andrew Pitt: “The second part of the race at Imola was like riding a brand new bike. We made a change during the red flag break and it transformed the bike. The lap times came and I could ride much harder into the turns. I can’t wait to ride it again at Magny-Cours, so I’m really happy this next race is coming so quickly. The track has some amazing memories for me from last year because I won the World Supersport title there. That’s not going to happen this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go out and show what the bike and I can do.”

Anthony West: “I have never been at Magny-Cours before, so I will be learning the track to start with this weekend. No worries there, I actually think it will be good for us coming to a new place. Let’s just hope we can get the bike to work a bit better for the start of the weekend. I’ll try my best for a good weekend and hopefully I can move up a bit in the Championship in the end of it.”

Miguel Praia: “Taking a top ten was an ambition achieved for me and it was satisfying to get back up after crashing on oil in the first half of the aggregate race and still be able to finish the race inside the top ten. Now I want to have better and better results as my home race approaches, to say thanks to the team for all the hard work this year.”

Mark Aitchison: “After a disappointing race in Imola, my team and I are looking to put ourselves straight back into work and we will be focused for the race. We managed to resolve a few issues from past rounds prior to Imola and my performance during the qualifying and practices was consistently stronger. I am now even more motivated to have strong races at the final two rounds.”

Matthieu Lagrive: “Magny-Cours is one of my favourite circuits and, of course, I know it very well. I am sorry not to be able to participate in the Superbike races but I am happy to go back to Supersport and I will try my best to reach a good result for my team, my sponsor and my supporters. My physical condition is good now and I feel very fit.”