Imola Racing Preview

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
From Honda Racing Information:

Imola, Italy - 2002 World Superbike championship round 13 / 2002 World Supersport championship round 12 - Sunday September 29

Colin Edwards is prepared for Sunday's thrilling finale to the World Superbike championship as he bids to land his second world title for the Castrol Honda team with victory in both races at the Imola circuit inItaly.

Edwards, riding the VTR1000 SP-2 machine, has forced a remarkable turnaround in the series following seven successive wins. Prior to the first of those wins the second race at Laguna Seca, USA in July Edwards trailed rival Troy Bayliss by 58 points.

Texan Edwards now leads the championship by one point and is confident he has everything it will take to two more wins in what will be a nerve-wracking weekend at the famous 3.04-mile circuit near Bologna.

"No matter where I've been in the past few weeks everyone has wished me good luck, asked me how I feel and offered views on how they think the Imola weekend will unfold," Edwards explains.

"It's not made me any more nervous, just made me realise how many peopleare following this championship as it goes down to the wire. I'm confident though, after a good test at Imola last week and the improvements made by HRC, Showa, Castrol and Michelin towards the end of the year.

"Leading by one point counts for nothing though it may as well be the first round of the year with the title at stake there and then. I've had a good run in recent weeks and I'm aiming to keep that form going with twomore wins on Sunday."

Edwards has re-written the record books with his recent run of wins. He's equalled a Castrol Honda season record of nine wins set by JohnKocinski in 1997. Edwards has also extended an amazing run of successive podium finishes to 23, comfortably blitzing the previous record of 12.

And such has been the dominance of Edwards and Bayliss in this year's championship that third-placed rider Neil Hodgson is now 200 points behind the Honda ace.

Only Honda's Makoto Tamada has interrupted the Edward (nine wins) and Bayliss (14) domination of victories.


Honda's Fabien Foret needs eighth place in the 12th final round of the World Supersport championship to secure a first world title for himself and the Dutch Ten Kate team.

Foret is confident of clinching the title but is not looking to ride a tactical race and will instead go in search of his fifth win of theyear.

"Of course, I will be taking notice of my pit board but if the opportunity to win the race is there then I will take it," says Foret. "That's how I've ridden all year and it's easier to repeat that than to try and ride a totally different race."

Foret is 17 points ahead of Suzuki's Katsuaki Fujiwara with former champion and Fujiwara's team-mate Stephane Chambon third, 31 points behind Foret.

Foret the race winner at Imola 12 months ago will be looking for a repeat of that and could also draw on the Imola experience of fellow CBR600 rider Karl Muggeridge runner-up to Frenchman Foret in last year's race.

"It's the last round of the year and if I'm asked to help try and win the championship for Honda I will," said Muggeridge who is joined in the Honda UK team for the final round by promising young Irish rider Michael Laverty.

Laverty replaces John McGuinness while Foret can look to his own, on-form team-mate Iain MacPherson for support too as the spectacularmiddleweight sports machine class draws to a close.

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