Monza Preview From Honda

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Monza, Italy will host round five of the 2001 WSB series as well as round four of the 2001 WorldSupersport championship series. Castrol Honda's defending World Superbike champion Colin Edwards arrives inItaly this week hoping he can repeat one of the most memorable weekends ofhis career.

Edwards won both races of the Monza World Superbike round in 1998 to recordhis first victories in the series - now he knows he must repeat that fordifferent reasons in Sunday's fifth round of the series at the historicItalian venue...

Edwards - winner of three of the last six races at Monza - says: "Ourdisplay in the last round in Japan was nothing short of pathetic. I wasgutted. But we've put that behind us now and with the Monza and DoningtonPark rounds coming up I know I've an excellent chance of winning some racesand catching Troy Corser at the head of the championship."

The 27-year-old, now in his fourth year with the Castrol Honda team, adds:"I like the Monza circuit, it's good, high speed racing and the VTR workedwell there last year. I'm sure Michelin will have the tire deal sorted forus too."

Edwards' teammate Tady Okada makes his debut at Monza and the talentedJapanese rider believes he can make a winning start at the 3.5-mile circuit.

"I'm told it will easy enough to learn Monza," says Okada. "But I knowthere's a difference between learning a circuit and going fast there. I'mreally looking forward to this European part of the championship and Irealise I need to start putting in some podium finishes on a consistentbasis.

"The last round at Sugo wasn't easy for Colin or myself but that's the wayit is sometimes in racing - maybe we will have the advantage this weekend atMonza?"

Corser leads the championship by 22 points from Ducati's Troy Bayliss whileEdwards is third, 20 points adrift of Bayliss with Okada in 14th place.Honda holds a slender one-point lead in the manufacturer's championship fromDucati with Aprilia one point behind their Italian rival.

Round four of the World Supersport championship takes in Monza wherethrilling 170mph slipstreaming battles are almost guaranteed. Honda's PereRiba leads the 11-round championship by three points from fellow-CBR600FSport-mounted Kevin Curtain. Australian Curtain has an eight-point cushionover Italian Yamaha rider Paolo Casoli - winner of last year's Monza race.

G. Ten Kate team rider Riba comments: "We've made a great start to the yearand new CBR600 Honda has been the difference. We now go to Monza where topspeed is crucial and I'm confident we've got that."

Curtain, riding for the Belgium-based BKM Honda squad, is equally confident,he says: "The new Honda is making life much easier this year and I'm readyand excited about the battle we're all anticipating at Monza. I realisethere's a championship at stake at the end of this now but right now I justwant to win another race to add to my Phillip Island win last month."

Monza data:Superbike:2000 qualifying, fastest: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) 1m 46.004s2000 Superpole: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) 1m 46.227s2000 winners: Pier-Francesco Chili (Suzuki) and Colin Edwards (CastrolHonda)Lap record: Pier-Francesco Chili (Suzuki) 1m 45.470s (1999)Supersport:2000 poleosition: Ruben Xaus (Ducati) 1m 52.188s2000 winner: Paolo Casoli (Ducati)Lap record: Christophe Cogan (Yamaha) 1m 51.659s
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