News 7 Jul 2011

Australian contingent preview Brno round of World Superbikes

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen will head the Aussie charge at Brno this weekend.

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen will head the Aussie charge at Brno this weekend.

Chris Vermeulen is banking on his powerful factory Kawasaki to help him crack a top 10 finish for the first time in 2011 when the World Superbike title visits Brno this weekend.

In the absence of injured countryman Troy Corser, Vermeulen will be the official Aussie statesman at the magnificent Czech Republic circuit, as he continues to bridge the gap to the championship top brass after an interrupted start to the year.

And even though he’s still not 100 percent fit – he’s recently added an injured elbow to his recuperating knee – the 10-time world Superbike winner is itching to show what his ZX-10R is capable of.

“The new bike should work well at Brno and one of the Kawasaki’s strongest points is the engine power,” said Vermeulen. “That can help going back up the hills at Brno.”

Like the majority of riders, Vermeulen is a huge fan of Brno, one of the most popular and beautifully sculptured layouts on the world Superbike trail.

“Brno is a nice circuit, one of the best we go to, with some ups and downs, blind corners and it’s just a really enjoyable track to race on,” said Vermeulen.

“There are lots of chicanes there, but they are fast so you do not just go in and stop/start. You can pass in them, you can carry a lot of speed through them and overall Brno is a fun track.

“My elbow is a bit inflamed but the good news is that it shows up as no damage on the scans. Given what you have to do on the bike it is quite hard on that part of the arm, but when I support it with tape it helps the muscle work better.”

The championship first visited the 5.403km circuit in 1993, and has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since 2005.

Corser and Italy’s Max Biaggi share the most number of wins with three, but Corser’s left arm is not yet up to the rigours of competition for him to try and improve on that.

“My arm is recovering well. The operation went very, very well with no complications at all,” said Corser, who broke the ulna and radius in his lower left arm racing in Aragon two weeks ago.

“Now we need to give the bone time to strengthen underneath the plate. The doctors said that I should nearly be back to full strength in time for Silverstone.

“Unfortunately, however, Brno has come too soon. I will probably end up coming to Brno just to be there, but not to ride. For Silverstone, however, I will be 100 percent ready.”

Biaggi (Aprilia) shared wins with Honda’s Jonathan Rea at Brno last year, and the reigning world champion is starting to build up some real momentum as he sets out in pursuit of runaway leader Carlos Checa (Ducati).

At the last round in Spain, Checa blotted his copybook for the first time this year when he crashed in race one, allowing Biaggi to reduce the Spaniard’s lead to 43 points (216 to 218)

With six rounds still remaining, Yamaha’s Marco Melandri is the only other rider within reach of Checa, and he’s on 193pts.

Melandri will be competing on a Superbike at Brno for the first time, but he obviously has an affinity with the layout after winning three grands prix there (two in 125 and one in 250) between 1998 and 2002.

Other riders expected to have a large say in proceedings at Brno include Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki), Eugene Laverty (Yamaha), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Leon Camier (Aprilia), Leon Haslam (BMW), Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) and then enigmatic Jakub Smrz (Ducati). Rea will also miss with injury.

Australia’s second rider will be Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki), who has been circulating with much more intensity in recent rounds without quite getting the runs on the board. Brno may be his breakthrough round.

In World Supersport, Andorran-based Newcastle rider Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) will be aiming to consolidate after crashing out of the last round at Aragon, gifting the championship lead back to Yamaha’s Chaz Davies.

“I’m really looking forward to Brno it has always been a good track for me and I really enjoy it,” said Parkes.

“I was quite disappointed after Aragon but when I started to think about losing some points there I realised there is still a long way to go in the championship and it is still wide open.

“I guess it is better to have crashed while battling for the win than to crash out of 10th position. So we are in a good situation still.”