Chris Walker and Troy Corser made an encouraging start to the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship with a top ten double in the first race at Monza.
Chris recovered from his worst start of the season to climb from 14th place up to 8th, while Troy finished just one place behind in ninth, in a race won comfortably by Regis Laconi.
And with both riders in touching distance of sixth place, despite giving away almost 20kmh on top speed to the 1000cc bikes, the team were able to draw a number of positives from the first race outing of the latest stage of engine development and at such a demanding circuit where 10 of the 24 starters failed to finish.
Chris said: "My clutch slipped at the start and I thought `Race over!' but it was okay after three more corners and perfect for the rest of the race. The bike was slightly over-heating while I was slip-streaming but whenever I was on my own it was running in the mid-90s. I thought I was doomed when I looked at who was around me on the first lap as the 1000s do have an edge here. Early on I thought I had made the wrong choice of tyre in choosing the harder compound but it came good after about three laps and was consistent when the others were starting to slide towards the end. I was happy with the race but probably wouldn't have had to work so hard - I was on the edge all the time - if I had not suffered that start. And I was pleased to have done my fastest lap while I was on my own without a tow!"
Troy said: "I got a good start but got stuck on the outside at the first chicane and had to pick the bike up slightly and run into the gravel. The bike felt sluggish on top speed and everyone, including Chris, was pulling away from me coming out of the corners. The tyre slid a little towards the end but was fine generally and a top ten finish is a definite improvement on last year already."
Race one results, Superbike World Championship round 4, Monza, Italy: 1 Laconi (Ducati Fila); 2 Toseland (Ducati Fila) +9.800; 3 McCoy (Xerox Ducati) +11.891; 4 Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda) +34.055; 5 Haslam (Renegade Ducati) +38.021; 6 Fuertes (MIR Racing) +41.980; 7 Borciani (DFX Racing) +42.117; 8 Walker (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) +42.405; 9 Corser (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) +44.983; 10 Bontempi (Zongshen) +57.215; 11 Clementi (Kawasaki Bertocchi) +57.408; 12 De Matteis (Xerox Ducati) +1:10.048; 13 Saiger (Time Life Haus) +1:18.059; 14 Sala (Team Anyway Fidoweb) +1:33.348
Carl Fogarty described his team's four top ten finishes in the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship at Monza, Italy, as their greatest achievement to date.
Troy Corser capped an encouraging day with sixth place in the second race of the day, two ahead of team-mate Chris Walker. In the day's opening action, Chris was again eighth, beating Troy by just one place.
Four-times World Superbike champion Foggy, himself four times a winner at Monza, said: "In some ways that could be described as our best round yet. In the other rounds, when we have made the podium, we were relying on the performance of the riders and also the conditions. This time, while the riders rode well again, the bike performed better than I thought it would. I honestly thought we would be struggling to make the top ten today. So it is absolutely fantastic to have four top ten finishes. I would say that this is the first big step forward we have had for more than a year and it has been a very promising start for the new PETRONAS engine development team."
Entering the two races at the monstrously fast circuit of Monza on the back of two podium finishes in the first three rounds, Foggy PETRONAS Racing were relying on a new stage of development to cope with the stresses placed on the engine by the three long straights.
And, having only managed to finish one of the four races, in 13th place, on their first visit to the historic Italian circuit last season, the initial twin aims of increased reliability and consistency from the engines, were both comfortably achieved.
While the demands of Monza took their toll on other bikes - both races saw ten riders failing to finish - Chris and Troy were able to capitalise on the handling of the FP1 through the corners in order to stay with their respective packs during each race, as well as taking part in the frequent drafting manoeuvres so typical of the fastest track on the calendar.
Troy said: "I think the bike was as good as it was going to be here. The engine for the second race seemed better off the bottom and I had changed gearing to the same as Chris had used as I had been on the limiter all the way down the straight in the first race. I also tried to find new braking points as I had looked at the telemetry from the first race and Chris was braking later. I had been braking as late as possible so I think that might have been down to the clutch, as the bike was definitely more stable on the brakes in the second race and so my average top speeds were a lot higher. I didn't make it too easy for myself off the start and got bottled up at the first corner. When Borciani was in front of me he was just pulling away enough that I couldn't out-brake him, but he was actually holding me up going in on the brakes. I needed a run out of the last chicane to be on his exhaust through Parabolica so that I could out-drag him through start-finish. We have had minimal problem s this weekend and the engines were definitely more consistent, with better mapping too. So we now have a better base to move forward from, as this was always going to be our toughest round."
Chris said: "If someone had told me I would finish the weekend with two eighth places I would have been very happy. The bike has run really well all weekend, so respect to the new engine development team. I got a good start but was maybe a little too cautious because of the first corner and it is the wrong side of the grid to be on. I managed to get past a few but at one stage I lost the tow when I came out of my seat coming out of Ascari and it was difficult to catch Borciani from there. I was happy with the first race but probably wouldn't have had to work so hard - I was on the edge all the time - if I had not suffered a slipped clutch at the start."
Race two results, Superbike World Championship round 4, Monza, Italy: 1 Laconi (Ducati Fila); 2 Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda) +12.392; 3 Toseland (Ducati Fila) +18.281; 4 McCoy (Xerox Ducati) +19.403; 5 Haslam (Renegade Ducati) +34.611; 6 Corser (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) +40.665; 7 Borciani (DFX) +41.256; 8 Walker (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) +42.485; 9 Martin (DFX) +48.936; 10 Sanchini (Kawasaki Bertocchi) +49.012); 11 Clementi (Kawasaki Bertocchi) +51.042; 12 Bontempi (Zongshen) +1:02.321; 13 Pedercini (Team Pedercini) +1:09.516; 14 Velini (UnionBike) +1:09.573; 15 Saiger (Life Haus) +1:20.873
- 1) R. Laconi - 120
- 2) J. Toseland - 117
- 3) P. Chili - 97
- 4) G. McCoy - 87
- 5) C. Vermeulen - 83
- 6) N. Haga - 69
- 7) C. Walker - 69
- 8) M. Borciani - 68
- 9) T. Corser - 66
- 10) L. Haslam - 64