Colin Edwards Looks to Kyalami

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards is hoping his love of the Kyalami circuit inSouth Africa will take him to his first win of the 2002 season as the WorldSuperbike championship reaches round three on Sunday.

Edwards has won races at the Johannesburg in 2000 and 2001 and believesthis Sunday's two races can kick start his campaign and reel in the pointsdeficit to series leader Troy Bayliss.

"I've always liked the Kyalami track, and the place itself, and my resultsthere have always been respectable," recalls Edwards...

"Two wins for me onSunday would set the championship alight but more importantly they wouldconfirm my intentions of being world champion this year."

Edwards arrives in South Africa in second place in the championship aftertwo runner-up places, to Bayliss, in Australia two weeks ago. Edwards, with20 World Superbike wins already, is looking to increase that tally andbegin his bid in earnest to regain the title he won in 2000.

The SP-2 rider adds: "After starting from pole position in Australia I wasdisappointed not to win a race but it's a long season. We've had four of 26races and there's everything to play for. But I know how important a winthis weekend is to the team and my championship chances.

"Michelin requested a test here in January which was very successful andthat will hopefully pay dividends this weekend. I think the races will betough as Bayliss is riding well at the moment, Noriyuki Haga likes Kyalamiand Ben Bostrom was a winner here last year."

Edwards trails Bayliss by 31 points, heading for round three of 13, withBostrom 16 points further back in third. The Castrol Honda Rumi HRC kitmachine took its first points of the campaign as British rider Mark Hecklesfinished 14th in the second race of the day in Australia.

Heckles is now bidding to build on that performance as the youngster makeshis debut at the 2.65-mile (4.26km) World Superbike venue. "This is stillall a bit of a dream for me," admits Heckles. "To finish in the pointsagain at Kyalami is all I'm looking for."

The World Supersport championship is already hotting up with joint leadersafter just two rounds and Honda's Fabien Foret just four points adrift asthe Ten Kate team rider holds third place following a win and a ninth placeon his CBR600 Sport machine.

Former champion Stephane Chambon and reigning champion Andrew Pitt lead theway with Honda riders filling six of the top 20 places in the 12-roundchampionship.

After a break of three years, World Supersport returns to Kyalami and Foretis confident of repeating his opening round win in Spain four weeks ago.

"Kyalami will be new to most riders and the machines have improved so muchsince the last visit so any set-up information will be worthless," predictsthe Frenchman. "I have a good team and a good machine and I know I'm inwith a chance of winning the South African race."

Foret is joined in the Kyalami race by team-mate and Kyalami lap recordholder Iain MacPherson while the van Zon Honda team has talented AustralianChris Vermeulen - sixth in the championship - and Werner Daemen, now 12thin the points standing after taking eighth place in Australia.

The revitalised BKM Honda team field Christophe Cogan - seventh inAustralia - and Austrian Robert Ulm. Honda UK's Karl Muggeridge will behoping to take his first rostrum of the year after moving through from 14thon the grid to fourth place in the Australian race before retiring.Muggeridge is joined by team-mate John McGuinness for Kyalami after theBritish rider missed the Australian race due to a shoulder injury.

Kyalami data:Superbike:2001 Qualifying, fastest: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) 1m 42.089s2001 Superpole: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) 1m 41.689s2001 winners: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) and Ben Bostrom (Ducati)Lap record: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) 1m 42.928s (April 2001)Supersport:2001 pole position: not applicable (1999 Ruben Xaus (Yamaha) 1m 47.293s2001 winners: not applicableLap record: Iain MacPherson (Kawasaki) 1m 48.343s (March 1999)
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