Preview World Superbike, Oschersleben, Germany

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From Honda Racing Information:

Oschersleben, Germany - 2002 World Superbike championship round 11 / 2002
World Supersport championship round 10 - Sunday September 1

Title in sight for determined Edwards

Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards is looking to add to his tally of wins at theOschersleben track in Germany as the World Superbike championship resumeswith round 11 on Sunday.

The impressive Edwards and Castrol Honda combination has won three of thefour races held so far at the circuit near Magdeburg and Edwards believesSunday could well be a turning point in the championship.

"We've always been strong at Oschersleben and there's no reason to believethis weekend should be any different," predicts Edwards.

He continues: "I spent a couple of days testing with Michelin in Francelast week and I know that they have the tires it takes to win in Germanyand HRC have been busy in the August break improving the SP-2."

Edwards trails championship leader Troy Bayliss by 39 points with threerounds, six races, to go in the 2002 campaign.

"Two wins for me in Germany would mean the points gap would be down tolittle more than a race win and that's if Troy's second in both races,"Edwards explains.

Edwards also arrives in Germany having won the last three races and alsosecured victory in the Suzuka 8 hours race in Japan. His 2002 form has alsoseen him take 19 successive podium finishes in the championship from the 20races so far just a fourth place in the opening race of the yearpreventing a clean sweep.

Team manager Neil Tuxworth says: "Colin is at the top of his game, ridingbetter than ever and we've every reason to believe he will push TroyBayliss and Ducati all the way in the battle for the 2002 title."

Castrol Honda Rumi team's Mark Heckles is hoping the tight and twistyOschersleben circuit will provide him with an opportunity for two strongfinishes aboard the HRC kit SP-2 machine.

"I'm sure I can do well at Oschersleben - providing we can find a goodsetting with the machine," says Englishman Heckles. "It's more down to therider there and not so much horsepower so I'm looking for twopoints-scoring finishes."

Honda's World Supersport championship title hope Fabien Foret defends anine-point lead in the series with three rounds remaining. The Frenchmanhas impressed throughout the 2002 campaign, taking three victories and hearrives in Germany in confident mood.

Foret set the pole position time at Oschersleben 12 months ago and tookvictory in the race, he believes: "The title is mine to win or lose now.We've worked hard to build up the points advantage and a win on Sunday inGermany will be crucial to winning the title."

The Frenchman adds: "The Oschersleben circuit suits the CBR600 machine soI've every reason to believe that I can win but I'll also be looking forpoints so a safe ride in Sunday's race is also very important."

Victory in the last round at Brands Hatch promoted Suzuki's KatsuakiFujiwara to second place in the 12-round series with the top four ridersnow separated by 25 points, the total on offer for a race win.

A host of other Honda riders will all be looking for a strong end of seasonfinish starting with success in Sunday's race, the first of three inSeptember which conclude the championship.

Chris Vermeulen, on the Van zon Honda, is out to make amends after beingtaking out in a first corner crash in last year's race while Foret'steam-mate Iain MacPherson knows that a top three finish in Sunday's racewould give him a realistic chance of a top six championship finish.

Oschersleben data:


2001 Qualifying: Ben Bostrom (Ducati) 1m 27.610s2001 Superpole: Neil Hodgson (Ducati) 1m 27.325s2001 winners: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati)Lap record: Ruben Xaus (Ducati) 1m 27.669s (September 2001)Supersport:2001 pole position: Fabien Foret (Honda) 1m 30.620s2001 winner: Fabien Foret (Honda)Lap record: James Whitham (Yamaha) 1m 30.806s (September 2001)World Superbike championship points after 10 of 13 rounds: 1 Troy Bayliss,Australia (Ducati) 441, 2 Colin Edwards, USA (Castrol Honda) 402, 3 NeilHodgson, GB (Ducati) 257, 4 Noriyuki Haga, Japan (Aprilia) and Ben Bostrom,USA (Ducati) 206, 6 Ruben Xaus, Spain (Ducati) 193, 7 James Toseland, GB(Ducati) 131, 8 Chris Walker, GB (Kawasaki) 126, 9 Pier-Francesco Chili,Italy (Ducati) 107, 10 Gregorio Lavilla, Spain (Suzuki) 89.Manufacturers points: 1 Ducati 455, 2 Honda 407, 3 Aprilia 206, 4 Kawasaki175, 5 Suzuki 106, 6 Yamaha 16, 7 Benelli 10.World Supersport championship points after round nine of 12: 1 FabienForet, France (Honda) 138, 2 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan (Suzuki) 129, 3Stephane Chambon, France (Suzuki) 115, 4 Andrew Pitt, Australia (Kawasaki)113, 5 Christian Kellner, Germany (Yamaha) 88, 6 Paolo Casoli, Italy(Yamaha) 87, 7 Chris Vermeulen, Australia (Honda) 74, 8 James Whitham, GB(Yamaha) and Jorg Teuchert, Germany (Yamaha) 71, 10 Iain MacPherson, GB(Honda) 54.Manufacturers points: 1 Suzuki 173, 2 Honda 158, 3 Yamaha 140, 4 Kawasaki116, 5 Ducati 57.
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