Kyalami World Superbike Preview

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Defending World Superbike champion Colin Edwards is in confident mood as heheads for round two of the championship in South Africa this week. Edwardsis fourth in the series after the opening round in Spain two weeks ago butthe Castrol Honda star is confident a repeat of his 2000 display at theKyalami circuit is possible.

Aprilia's Troy Corser leads the championship after a double win atValencia.Corser set pole position at Kyalami last year and finished fourth in bothraces. Second in the 2001 points standings is Ducati's Troy Bayliss, theAustralian lies 10 points behind Corser and 13 ahead of Kawasaki's GregorioLavilla with Edwards four points adrift of the Spanish Kawasaki rider...

Edwards won both races of last year's event at the 2.64-mile (4.263km)circuit on the outskirts of Johannesburg and the 27-year-old from Conroe,Texas is looking for the same return this year.

"We're heading to South Africa after a disappointing time in the openinground but this championship is 13 rounds and 26 races, we've hardly gotstarted," said Edwards. "I like Kyalami and in pre-season testing I didmorelaps there than most so we know what works there.

"Michelin provided us with a lot of new race and qualifying rubber for theKyalami test two months ago so we're heading there pretty confident andknowing what lap times are possible on each of the rear tire options wehave."

Edwards' Castrol Honda team-mate Tady Okada is chasing two solid, pointsscoring rides at Kyalami after a disappointing first round. The talentedJapanese rider was forced out after six laps of the opening Valencia racewith an electrical problem and crashed at the second corner of race two.

"I have a lot of work to do at Kyalami, admits Okada."I know I can't makeup the gap to the top of the championship in one round but Kyalami is wheremy season starts properly. I rode the circuit for the first time in thetesttwo months ago and I really like the layout."

Okada continues: "In Spain I was still getting used to the VTR and I washappy with qualifying and Superpole and I'm confident I can win races thisyear - hopefully starting on Sunday."

Italian Suzuki rider Pier-Francesco Chili joins Edwards and former worldchampion Carl Fogarty as the only three riders - each taking a double win -to take victories at Kyalami in the three years of World Superbikecompetition there.

Ducati privateer Neil Hodgson - the reigning British Superbike champion -set the fastest time during pre-season testing at undulating hillsidecircuit, with a time of 1m 41.477s.

The World Supersport championship hopefuls do not travel to South Africa,their series resumes at Phillip Island, Australia on April 22 with G TenKate Honda's Pere Riba hoping to extend his lead after a dominant victoryinthe Valencia opener.

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Brent Avis
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