Sebastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) secured his fifth win of the season after a tough race around the magnificent environs of Brno in the Czech Republic. The Frenchman had some stiff competition from several quarters and was not able to the repeat the immediate front running adventures which have characterised much of his 2005 season. One by one his rivals fell, retired or dropped their pace, and he took the win by a clear 4.429 seconds, setting a new lap record of 2'07.316 to go with his pole position success in qualifying. He also extended his championship lead by a further 25 points over his injured team-mate, Katsuaki Fujiwara (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR), with his new total of 165 comparing favourably with Fujiwara's 106.
Michel Fabrizio (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) led on lap one, but eventually dropped off Charpentier's pace as the race wound down to its 18-lap completion, and the young Italian finished second. He was just under a second ahead of Ducati runner Gianluca Nannelli, and private Honda entrant, Robbin Harms (Stiggy Motorsports CBR600RR).
Fujiwara's temporary replacement Craig Jones (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR), a front-runner on a Honda in the British Supersport series, was sixth, only losing his chance of a podium finish in the last section of the race, when his front tyre performance dropped off.
Finnish rider Tatu Lauslehto (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR) lost grip from the rear earlier than anticipated and ended 12th, scoring four championship points. Fabien Foret (Team Italia Megabike Honda CBR600RR) was forced to retire.
Charpentier had to work hard for his win, alternating the lead between himself and eventually faller Kevin Curtain (Yamaha), before leading the last eight laps effectively unchallenged.
"It was a difficult race and a good battle with Kevin from the start," said this year's leading Supersport force. "It was not such a good race after he crashed out - I prefer a fight - but the result has given me a good position in the championship. With my pole position qualifying time and fastest lap of the race, it's been a complete weekend for me. The grip went off towards the end of the race today but it's our first visit here, so it feels good to beat the other teams that have tested here already."
Fabrizio did his championship position a great favour at Brno, going fifth on 62 points, only 12 behind his team-mate Foret.
"This was a good result for us and it has also helped our championship position a lot," said a relived Fabrizio. "It has helped me in my ambition to finish inside the top three. I tried hard to stay with the leaders but in the last five laps the performance of the front tyre went down very fast. So I closed the gas and just controlled the gap back to Nannelli for the last few laps."
Jones, in his first ride for Winston Ten Kate, was in a competitive position almost throughout the entire 18 laps of the 5.403km circuit, and felt he could even have challenged podium rider Nannelli.
"Everything was fine until the last few laps when I lost grip from the front end," said Jones, who was otherwise happy with his weekend's work. "In the race I was pushing hard and carrying a lot more corner speed. I think it was possible to run with Nannelli, but I preferred to bring it home. The race was longer than a normal British Championship event but I had no problems with that, just the drop in front tyre grip."
Lauslehto expected at least a top ten from his Brno weekend, but the fates conspired against him from the start. He now sits on 40 points, in tenth position overall.
"Like every weekend we had a hard race but the main problem was not such good grip from the rear and other riders had more," said the Finn. "I was losing out on the exit of every corner. I expected a little bit more here but without the same grip as everyone else, I had no chance."
Foret was disappointed in particular with the mysterious end to his race, as he pitted for a new rear, thinking his tyre was deflating, before finally retiring on lap nine. He had been hit from behind by Charpentier earlier in the race, but no damage was evident to tyre or machine.
"I felt that my tyre deflated and I don't know why," said Foret. "There was nothing to do. I had a collision early in the lap and I thought the bike was leaking oil at first, that's why I was looking behind me all the time, so we need to find out exactly what happened."
World Superbike Round 7 of 12
VERMEULEN GIVES A PODIUM TO HONDA AFTER BRNO BATTLES
Chris Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) scored the best individual result of the Brno weekend for Honda, with a third in race two, after a bruising battle for bikes and riders. Pierfrancesco Chili (Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR) had good results from bad starts, scoring fifth on two occasions as the weekend crowd of 31,000 were treated to some classic racing for the final podium places.
In the first of the afternoon's 20-lap races, held in dry and sunny conditions of 26°C ambient temperature, Troy Corser (Suzuki) scored a clear start-to-finish victory, from Ducati runners James Toseland and Regis Laconi. In the second 20-lapper, Noriyuki Haga took the win on his Yamaha, from Corser and Vermeulen. The second race was delayed by almost an hour after a competitor's engine put oil on the track after only two laps of what was a subsequently aborted race.
Karl Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was 13th and ninth, and had to fight hard in a melee of sometimes eight riders behind the leaders. Max Neukirchner (Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR) had another hard raceday, after a dazzling third place Superpole qualification. Only 14th in race one, then a retiree from race two, the German rider is 12th in the championship overall.
Ben Bostrom (Renegade Honda Koji CBR1000RR) was 27th in qualifying, and battled all the way to finish 20th and 18th, unable to match the speed he expected to have.
Vermeulen's recovery from a first race disappointment was marked, but still came the hard way.
"I didn't get of the line too badly in race two but the front wheel started to lift and I had to roll off a bit," said Vermeulen after his race two podium. "I came together with Nori Haga at the first turn and then I found myself in with a lot of fast riders, who were all difficult to pass. Another couple of incidents cost me places that I had to work hard to get, but I eventually got into a good rhythm, and put in some fast laps towards the end of the race. We lifted the front end a little between the races and that helped me to hold lines a lot better. I'm happy with the podium though, considering it's our first time here. It's a good reward for all the team's hard work."
Chili's charges to the front were both hampered by his qualification in 17th position, missing out on Superpole, making for two starts way behind the leading players. Carrying injuries from a practice crash, the 41-year-old rider even had time for a joke or two.
"It is fun for me to make a push up from the middle of the pack," laughed Chili after two hard races in warm conditions. "I am only a young rider so when I learn to start then the races may be different! I am very happy because after the practice I was not sure I could finish the race. Either I would crash pushing or I would have to retire. But we made modifications for the race today and they were good. My left foot has 'gone to sleep' but otherwise I am fine, just tired."
Muggeridge had set-up issues in each race, causing different results - neither of them the top fives he had taken in Superpole.
"I got the front working better after race one but I suddenly found I had no grip at the rear," said 'Muggas.' "I could brake and run into corners with everyone in the fast group, but just lost out when we accelerated away. The bike was definitely better overall so it was a bit frustrating to find another problem, which got worse as the race went on."
Neukirchner was particularly disappointed not to make a better points haul in front of many of significant numbers of German fans, who had travelled over to the Czech Republic for the weekend.
"I had the same problem in both races," stated Neukirchner, "a lack of front grip only on right hand corners. The bike also went wrong in race two, I don't know why yet. The thing that I don't understand is that we chose the same front tyres in practice and I did 17-18 laps on one of them with no problems. In the race, after five laps, I could push no more."
Bostrom was mystified at his overall raceday performance.
"I've been going slow all day," he said in summation. "The bike feels horrible but is that because I'm riding poorly or because the bike is not set-up well? It's just not possible to go that slow, I don't care what bike you are riding."
After the relative novelty of Brno, an old WSS and SBK favourite occupies the next place on the calendar - Brands Hatch. The second British-based event of the year is held at the historic and undulating Kent venue on August 7th.
RACE : (Laps 18 = 97,254 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / S. CHARPENTIER / FRA / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 38'44.765 /
2 / M.FABRIZIO / ITA / Italia Megabike / 38'49.194 / 4.429
3 / G.NANNELLI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 38'50.131 / 5.366
4 / R.HARMS / DEN / Stiggy Motorsports / 38'52.738 / 7.973
5 / J. FORES / ESP / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 38'54.354 / 9.589
6 / C. JONES / GBR / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 38'54.547 / 9.782
7 / S. CHAMBON / FRA / Gil Motor Sport / 39'03.579 / 18.814
8 / A. CORRADI / ITA / Ducati Selmat / 39'07.003 / 22.238
9 / W.DAEMEN / BEL / Van Zon Honda / 39'07.174 / 22.409
10 / B. VENEMAN / NED / Suzuki Nederland / 39'09.259 / 24.494
11 / J. STIGEFELT / SWE / Stiggy Motorsports / 39'10.211 / 25.446
12 / T. LAUSLEHTO / FIN / Klaffi Honda / 39'10.527 / 25.762
13 / C. MIGLIORATI / ITA / Lightspeed Kawasaki / 39'21.601 / 36.836
14 / M.LAGRIVE / BEL / Moto 1 - Suzuki / 39'23.271 / 38.506
15 / S. LE GRELLE / BEL / Le Grelle Dholda in Action / 39'26.674 / 41.909
Fastest Lap 3° Sébastien Charpentier 2'07.316 152,776 Km/h
Lap Record: No previous race
Riders Championship Standings:
1 CHARPENTIER 165, 2 FUJIWARA 106, 3 CURTAIN 93, 4 FORET 74, 5 FABRIZIO 62,
6 PARKES 60, 7 NANNELLI 56, 8 CHAMBON 55, 9 FORES 47, 10 LAUSLEHTO 40,
11 VENEMAN 33, 12 STIGEFELT 27, 13 HARMS 18, 14 CORRADI 16, 15 LE GRELLE 15.
Race 1: (Laps 20 = 108,060 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /Gap
1 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 41'42.829 /
2 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 41'49.421 / 6.592
3 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 41'50.306 / 7.477
4 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 41'51.889 / 9.060
5 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 41'52.012 / 9.183
6 / L. LANZI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 41'53.607 / 10.778
7 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 41'56.589 / 13.760
8 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 41'57.898 / 15.069
9 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 41'59.149 / 16.320
10 / A. PITT / AUS / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 42'02.505 / 19.676
11 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 42'04.651 / 21.822
12 / F. NIETO / ESP / Ducati SC Caracchi / 42'07.611 / 24.782
13 / K. MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 42'08.659 / 25.830
14 / M.NEUKIRCHNER / GER / Klaffi Honda / 42'10.315 / 27.486
15 / D. CHECA / ESP / Yamaha GMT 94 / 42'13.832 / 31.003
Fastest Lap 4° Troy Corser 2'03.812 157,099 Km/h
Race 2 : (Laps 20 = 108,060 Km)
Pos /Rider /Nat. /Team / Time /
1 / N.HAGA / JPN / Yamaha Motor Italia WSB / 41'43.525 /
2 / T. CORSER / AUS / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 41'46.758 / 3.233
3 / C. VERMEULEN / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 41'54.537 / 11.012
4 / N. ABE / JPN / Yamaha Motor France-Ipone / 41'55.793 / 12.268
5 / P. CHILI / ITA / Klaffi Honda / 41'55.886 / 12.361
6 / L. LANZI / ITA / Ducati SC Caracchi / 41'57.036 / 13.511
7 / R. LACONI / FRA / Ducati Xerox / 41'57.666 / 14.141
8 / J. TOSELAND / GBR / Ducati Xerox / 41'59.964 / 16.439
9 / K. MUGGERIDGE / AUS / Winston Ten Kate Honda / 42'00.345 / 16.820
10 / C.WALKER / GBR / PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse / 42'03.262 / 19.737
11 / Y. KAGAYAMA / JPN / Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra / 42'08.302 / 24.777
12 / F. NIETO / ESP / Ducati SC Caracchi / 42'08.769 / 25.244
13 / I. CLEMENTI / ITA / Team Pedercini / 42'10.225 / 26.700
14 / D. CHECA / ESP / Yamaha GMT 94 / 42'11.644 / 28.119
15 / G.BUSSEI / ITA / Kawasaki Bertocchi / 42'25.607 / 42.082
Fastest Lap 6° Noriyuki Haga 2'03.747 157,182 Km/h
Lap Record:Troy Corser 2'03.812 157,100Km/h 2005
Riders Championship Standings:
1 CORSER 299, 2 VERMEULEN 205, 3 LACONI 187, 4 KAGAYAMA 158, 5 TOSELAND 152,
6 HAGA 122, 7 CHILI 108, 8 WALKER 106, 9 ABE 83, 10 PITT 76, 11 MUGGERIDGE 75,
12 NEUKIRCHNER 52, 13 LANZI 50, 14 BUSSEI 46, 15 NIETO 32.
Source: Honda Motor Company, Ltd - Motor Sports Division