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WSBK: Brands Hatch preview

Four riders jockey for position behind Bayliss

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Aug. 01, 2008
Troy Bayliss arrives at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England, with a commanding 79-point lead, but the logjam of riders sitting second through fifth in the standings still have a chance at the World Superbike championship.

The Xerox Ducati rider started the season strong winning four of the first eight races before seeing his competitors splitting victories over the next eight consecutive races. A pair of wins July 20 at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic gave Bayliss some more breathing room, success at Brands Hatch would give him a wider margin before the WSBK season enters its August break.

“My career at Brands has been pretty good overall. I had a great year in 2006 with a win and a second place but then last year was more difficult, when James (Toseland, who now races in the MotoGP series) did the double,” says Bayliss who crashed out of race one in 2007 while tire problems put him out of contention in the second. “I really like the layout and it’s unlike any other track, it's probably the most dangerous track that we visit, but this gives it more character I guess!”

While Bayliss has a comfortable lead, the next four riders in the standings are separated by only 20 points. Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner is in second place with 230 points but close behind are Yamaha’s Troy Corser at 218, Honda’s Carlos Checa at 215 and Yamaha’s Noriyuki Haga at 210. With the competitors so close in the standings, their order can change dramatically from race to race.Noriyuki Haga leads all active WSBK riders with four victories at Brand Hatch.

“I like Brands Hatch, last year I was twice in the top 10 with a private team, so hopefully I can come a little bit closer to Troy (Bayliss) in the standings this year,” says Neukirchner.

Checa arrived in England after winning the Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan July 27 with his Ten Kate Honda teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari. The win gives Checa a bit of momentum going into Brands Hatch, but the strain of the race and traveling from Japan to England could affect his performance.

“It was a fantastic experience to win the Suzuka 8 Hours race last weekend,” says Checa. “For sure the race itself and the travelling has quite an impact on the body, and I can’t wait to be on my own Fireblade again for this weekend.”

The Yamaha Team Italia duo of Corser and Haga will pose a double-threat to their foes at Brands Hatch.

“It’s kind of like a second home race for me with my wife Sam’s family there,” says Corser. “The track’s good, I like the layout, although the fences are a bit close on some places at the back of the circuit. But all in all, a good place. Atmosphere wise it’s the only place like it, the spectators are so close, you can see and hear them a lot more easily than at most circuits.”

Haga has had success at Brands Hatch with four wins, ranking second behind six-time winner Colin Edwards for career victories on the track.

“I reckon that Haga will be the force to be reckoned with this weekend but we have to see,” says Bayliss. “There are several guys of course, like Max (Biaggi), Corser, (Max) Neukirchner, Checa, (Ruben) Xaus … Who knows how it will go?”

World Superbike standings
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Troy Bayliss Ducati 1098 F08 309
2nd Max Neukirchner Suzuki GSX-R1000 230
3rd Troy Corser Yamaha YZF-R1 218
4th Carlos Checa Honda CBR1000RR 215
5th Noriyuki Haga Yamaha YZF-R1 210