Brands Hatch WSB Preview

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards is aiming to continue where he left off inthe last round with a repeat victory in Sunday's 10th round of the WorldSuperbike championship at Brands Hatch, GB.

The European round traditionally attracts the biggest spectator attendanceof the year and last year's 122,000 three-day crowd is expected to bedrastically increased with ticket sales more than 30 per cent up on last year...

Edwards arrives at Brands Hatch after a test at Suzuka, Japan last week andfollowing his victory in a thrilling second race of round nine at LagunaSeca, USA two weeks ago.

"Winning at Laguna Seca was very special for me," admits Edwards. "I'dnever even finished on the podium there before in my life. It was great foreveryone involved in the team to get that much needed boost and it wentdown well with the American fans they were keen to tell me how they weregoing to buy SP-2s after watching me win."

Edwards takes on the Brands Hatch event, 53 points behind series leaderTroy Bayliss but the American SP-2 rider believes the 2002 season is farfrom over.

"You only have to look what happened at Laguna Seca, as soon as I got a gapat the front Troy started making mistakes as he was trying to catch up. Itwould take nothing to turn this championship on its head," says Edwards.

The affable 28-year-old is also setting the pace in the record books thisyear with 17 successive podium finishes, eclipsing the previous record of12 set by Carl Fogarty in '95 and '99.

Edwards has also contributed 23 wins to the Castrol Honda team's tally of47 from the nine years the team has challenged for the World Superbiketitle and, more than a third of the team's 158 podium finishes.

The Texan's record at Brands Hatch is equally impressive with four wins inthe last four years at the 2.62-mile circuit.

"Everything's in place for me to go out, win two races and shoot straightback into the title race," predicts Edwards. "We are confident that theSP-2 Michelin combination will work at Brands Hatch and, after the LagunaSeca win, I've never been more fired up."

Mark Heckles will be hoping to give the Castrol Honda Rumi team success onthe HRC kit SP-2 at Brands Hatch the scene of Heckles' first podium finishon his international debut in the 2000 European Superstock race.

"Brands Hatch is a circuit I know and like and, just like the Silverstoneround in May, it's my home country with a big crowd and I'd like to givethem something to shout about," says Heckles.

Superbike:2001 Qualifying: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) 1:26.556s2001 Superpole: Neil Hodgson (Ducati) 1:26.769s2001 Winner: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) x 2Lap record: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) 1:26.884s (July 2001)World Superbike championship points after nine of 13 rounds:1 Troy Bayliss, Australia (Ducati) 405 points,2 Colin Edwards, USA (Castrol Honda) 352,3 Neil Hodgson, GB (Ducati) 221,4 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 184,5 Noriyuki Haga, Japan (Aprilia) 182,6 Ruben Xaus, Spain (Ducati) 172,7 James Toseland, GB (Ducati) 124,8 Chris Walker, GB (Kawasaki) 108,9 P-Francesco Chili, Italy (Ducati) 90.Manufacturers points:1 Ducati 415,2 Honda 357,3 Aprilia 182,4 Kawasaki 157,5 Suzuki 101,6 Yamaha 16,7 Benelli 10.
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