A track layout well known to all
The second of five SBK rounds in relatively close succession is the fourth round of what has been an exciting championship season so far.
With four different race winners in only six individual races, the tight and twisty 4.005km
Circuito Ricardo Tormo will be good venue for another potential winner to present his credentials, as virtually every top rider has ridden at the Spanish circuit in the last few months, most at an official SBK test between 17 and 19 March.
Despite suffering the desperate bad luck that robbed him of a finish in race two at Donington, James Toseland (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) still took his third win of the season at his home event, in race one, and thus holds onto his championship lead even now. His leading advantage was cut to five points, over Max Biaggi (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra), with the Italian rider looking for SBK career win number two at Valencia, having taken the first race of the year at Qatar.
Some 27 points behind Toseland, Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) has also installed himself as a winner now, having taken race two at Donington. Only seven points behind Haga is his team-mate Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia) winless so far in 2007. He has, however, won at Valencia on both twin-cylinder and four-cylinder machinery, and is looking to the Spanish venue to push himself and his points total ever upwards.
A somewhat lacklustre 2006 season for Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) was punctuated by Valencia's twin peaks - his only two podiums of the year. Having already scored third in Qatar race one, he is now looking for wins at a circuit he tested particularly well at recently.
His team-mate and double SBK champion Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) has recovered well from injuries to his little finger and groin at Donington, and he fully intends to race. He will thus be presenting himself for medical checks as soon as he gets to Valencia.
Lanzi is currently fifth overall, after solid points scores in every race, with Bayliss overall sixth after a win and a second place in round two in Phillip Island, and a Donington raceday which was injurious both to his body and points score.
Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Germany) has been the most consistently fast privateer in race trim this year, despite riding a 2006 machine, and his six strong points scores place him at the head of a very close battle for the last few top ten places. Right behind him, by only a single point, is the top placed Spanish rider so far, Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Ducati) riding a 2006 factory spec machine. Another few points behind is Toseland's team-mate Roberto Rolfo (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) now gaining confidence since his swap from a privateer big twin to a full-on four-cylinder.
last place in the top ten thus far is held by Spanish superstar Fonsi Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) but after a great ride at Valencia last year he expects to be in the mix and up the order by close of play on Sunday night. Ironically, the nature of the Spanish circuit will not help his cause too much, as the big Kawasaki is not best suited to the tight Valencia circuit. Nonetheless, both he and his team-mate Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse, 11th overall), are expected to get the most out of their machines at a track they have tested at recently.
The factory four of Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) will be at Valencia, with the Japanese rider hoping to be fit once more after another big crash at Donington, following on from his misadventures at the Phillip Island meeting. Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) will be hoping to make better ground up than he did during recent Valencia tests, when he was unhappy with his general machine set-up.
Jakub Smrz (SC Caracchi Ducati) has been a quiet revelation in the midfield since his move to World Superbike, and now sits 13th, having scored two top ten finishes at Donington Park, and having netted points five times in six attempts. Just behind Smrz, Michel Fabrizio (DFX Corse Honda) is out for two solid finishes to get his top-ten challenge on track again, while his team-mate Steve Martin hopes to get his machine performance up to meet his expectations.
Alto Evolution Honda riders Karl Muggeridge and Josh Brookes were among many of the midfield riders who rode at the Official Valencia SBK tests in March, and like many others they also hope that the technical circuit in Spain will level the playing field somewhat up to the top runners.
SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - SOFUOGLU IN THE CLEAR
With two wins and one second place to his credit thus far in 2007, Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) has scored an immediate jump on his many rivals, and such was the effect of a pivotal Donington Park meeting that no fewer than three of his main rivals left the UK injured and another two left with no points and one point respectively.
Thus Sofuoglu has a 27-point lead already, over the rejuvenated Katsuaki Fujiwara (Althea Honda) and a 31-point advantage on second place Donington finisher Robbin Harms (Stiggy Motorsports Honda). Gil Kawasaki's two top runners, Fabien Foret and Pere Riba look to get their championship challenges back on the straight and narrow after disastrous Donington outcomes, ruining the good work of pole for Riba and a PI race win for Foret.
The almost traditional big WSS two of Sebastien Charpentier (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Kevin Curtain (Yamaha SSP Racing) are each trying to be fit for Valencia after crashes in qualifying, finding themselves in the same boat as another modern-day great of Supersport racing, Broc Parkes (Yamaha SSP Racing).
SBK Press Office