The Ricardo Tormo Circuit will host its first international race of the season this coming weekend, with the fourth round of the World Superbike Championship coming to this popular track for its eighth consecutive year.
Valencia is a tight and twisty circuit built with spectators in mind. The venue was designed to be a 'circuit within a stadium' and this has been achieved with over 65,000 grandstand seats that allow spectators to view the track, and the action on it, from the one position. The popularity of this circuit is evident, with over 3 million spectators visiting since its opening in 1999.
Valencia's complicated track, excellent facilities and favourable winter weather conditions make this circuit ideal for all kinds of racing. It is in demand by national and international championships and is not restricted to just motorcycles. Everything from trucks to Formula One cars use this circuit which means that grip levels can be unpredictable, causing conditions to change by the hour and requiring constant adjustments to the set-up of the bike.
Pirelli held their official tyre test here in March, with Yamaha's World Superbike, Supersport and Superstock teams all taking part. The data gathered at this test could be of a big help to put all the Yamaha teams in a good position for their race set-up this weekend.
The last round at Donington saw Haga take the team's first win of the season, showing the potential of the new R1. This was supported by Corser's second and third finishes. Haga goes into the fourth round in third place in the championship standings with 88 points with Corser just behind on 81 points. Both riders want to win at this round, so the gloves will be off from the outset.
In 2006 Haga claimed two fifth places in Valencia but as he has won here previously in 2000 and 2004, he is keen to add another race win to his one from Donington. "Valencia is one of my favourite circuits and I have won there before," he says. "It is a technically challenging circuit though, and chassis and tyre set-up are very important there. With the testing we have done there recently with Pirelli I am hopeful. After winning at Donington I am feeling very positive and looking forward to winning again!"
Team mate, Corser is looking to take some race win glory himself this weekend, after just missing it at Donington. Last year he took second place in both races and is looking to better that result this year.
"Valencia has a good layout and the weather is normally makes for good riding conditions, although it can get a bit windy and, depending on which way it blows, it can sometimes be a problem. The track grip is different every time we go there because it depends on what's been racing there previously - trucks or Formula Ford - and what rubber they've left."
With regard to the bike, Corser says, "The bike feels good following the testing we have done there, although every team has done testing there so it's going to be a close race."
The third round at Donington was a very tough one for the Yamaha World Supersport Team, with both Curtain and Parkes crashing and breaking their collar bones in practice, putting them out for the race. The team goes into the fourth round with a lot of hard work to do. They know they need a good result to put them back into contention for the championship, but are very conscious of both riders still nursing injuries. Both riders had operations immediately following the race and are determined to ride at Valencia if at all possible. Currently, Curtain lies in fifth in the championship with 25 points and Parkes lies in tenth on 16 points.
"I'm feeling pretty good despite the crash at Donington. A friend in Belgium helped me get operated on straight away and I now have a late and eight bolts in my left shoulder, which is lucky as I'm right-handed. As soon as I was out of surgery I started exercising the injury because the longer you leave it, the longer it takes to get going again. I now have full movement and a fair amount of strength in my left arm, though the scar is a bit tender," says Kevin of his injuries.
When asked about Valencia and his expectations, Kevin said, "I'm looking forward to returning to the championship this weekend. I'd like to get on the podium' that's what I'll be aiming for."
At the time of going to print, it is expected that Broc Parkes will race at Valencia, though this will be confirmed in the next 24 hours.
Claudio Corti got his Superstock Championship fight off to a good start at Donington with a second place, just in front of Didier van Keymeulen on another new R1. Corti's team mate, Michele Pirro has something to prove this weekend after crashing out of the last race. He had been showing great potential in his rookie season in the Superstock Championship prior to the crash and is keen to make up for his mistakes with a good result at Valencia.