This weekend Misano hosts the eighth round of the 2007 World Superbike Championship and the Yamaha Motor Italia Team is fully focused and raring for more success following their second and third positions at Silverstone two weeks ago. Bad weather conditions meant the second race was cancelled, preventing the team from taking further points away. This was only the third time a superbike race has been cancelled in the championship's twenty-year history.
Misano first appeared on the superbike calendar in 1991 and has been a regular stop in the championship since 1993. The circuit is much loved by racers and fans alike with a seating capacity of 75,000. For 2007 the circuit has undergone a makeover - the track now runs in a clockwise direction as opposed to the anti-clockwise route it has taken previous years. It has also been re-surfaced. These two factors together mean this track is effectively new for all the riders.
The Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team has already had a chance to get to grips with the new-style Misano, having tested there between the Monza and Silverstone rounds last month. During the two-day test the team tried many new parts including the variable intake system used on the standard production R1. Both riders came away feeling positive about the progress they had made on their set-up as well having learnt the track. Corser was second fastest over the two days with Haga fourth fastest.
Haga goes to Misano fired up after a solid second place at Silverstone which leaves him only 23 points behind the championship leader, James Toseland. Last year Haga finished fifth and third at this circuit; in 2005 he took two sixth positions and in 2004 he walked away with a pair of fourth places.
Talking about the last round, Haga says, "My second place result at Silverstone was good. Of course it would've been ideal to take away twenty five points but to take twenty points was important for my championship fight. I was very disappointed at the cancellation of the second race because I lost the opportunity to completely close the gap on first place but that now becomes my challenge for this weekend instead."
"Having got the double win at the team's first home round (Monza) was perfect. I would love to repeat this at our second home circuit but I have to be realistic," Haga comments. "At our test there last month I struggled to find the right set-up so I need to resolve that before focusing on racing this weekend. The new track has lots of grip because of the new surface but it also has a lot of bumps which make it more difficult to set up the braking and general behaviour of the machine."
Corser has a good history at Misano; he achieved the Full Monty there in 2000, which consists of taking pole, winning both races and getting the fastest lap of both races also. Although he didn't fare so well last year, failing to finish either race, he took a pair of third place finishes in 2005 and has taken pole twice at this Italian circuit.
"I'm looking forward to going back to Misano after such a good test there last month. At least we can be sure that the weather will be better there than at Silverstone! Weather aside, Silverstone was a good race for me - it gave me my 110th podium and was a real step forward in terms of progress. It could well prove to be the turning point in the season for me," Corser says.
"The Misano test we did was good because we were able to make some good chassis improvements, which were proven at Silverstone. The test also gave me a chance to get to know the new direction of the track. Sure it's bumpy but I'm not worried about that. The only issue I can see is that the first section is now quite tight and whilst it will lead to some good close racing it also means that there is only one line and no overtaking points. I will just have to see where I can create some overtaking points! I'm looking forward to this race for sure."
Anthony West gave the Yamaha World Supersport Team their first win of the season at Silverstone, coming up from 16th place on the grid to take the top slot in the torrential rain that eventually saw the race red flagged. Broc Parkes had less fortune and crashed out of the race whilst in second position in a low-side slide that broke his foot peg and prevented him from continuing.
Parkes goes to Misano with a good history at the circuit. He won an Italian Championship round there in 2005 and finished third in last year's World Supersport race, having taken pole on the same weekend.
"Rather than look back at my results so far this season I just want to focus on what's ahead. I've been working out almost daily since Silverstone - the first time I have been able to really do it since I broke my collar bone - and it feels good," Broc says. "Misano is a new circuit for everyone so it will be interesting to see how riders take to it. It's always hot at Misano, which suits me as I'm used to training in that kind of weather back home in Australia. I feel we have a good base set-up for the bike; we've come a long since the start of the season even if the results don't reflect that. Now I want to get some points on the board badly; everyone is so close on points that this championship isn't over yet! What I really want is to walk away from Misano with a podium."
Anthony West continues to stand in for Kevin Curtain after taking the race win at Silverstone. As with Monza and Silverstone, West has not ridden the Misano circuit before but this hasn't slowed him down at previous rounds. He will be in good company this weekend as almost none of the Supersport riders have ridden the new-look track.
"I'm looking to get another good result this weekend; it'll be nice to race in the dry and warm after Silverstone! I'm excited to go to Misano, especially off the back of my first win for the team," Anthony says. "It'll be a much more level playing field at Misano because very few people have ridden the new track yet. Normally I'm learning the circuit as well as trying to find the right set-up but this time everyone will be in the same boat, which will give me more chance of getting a good qualifying place. I'll start with the same set-up as I had at Silverstone and see where we go from there. I haven't had as much time as I'd like on the bike yet to find a good base setting but I'm not far off. It should be a good weekend."
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup;
The wet weather conditions at Silverstone made for a difficult race for the Yamaha Team Italia squad, though Pirro put in a good ride to take fifth just in front of Umbria Bike Team rider Matteo Baiocco. Claudio Corti struggled with his wet set-up and was only able to manage tenth place.
Didier van Keymeulen took an unlucky tumble in practice at Silverstone and broke one of his lower vertebrae as well as his wrist. He had been running as one of the fastest riders up to that point. He will not be racing at Misano but his recovery period could well be less than the few months originally anticipated as he is quietly hoping to return at Brno in July.
Pirro, Corti and Baiocco are certain to be pushing for the top slot on the podium this weekend at their home circuit. The championship is very close; Baiocco is in second and only 8 points behind lead-man Aitchison, Pirro is in fourth and only four points behind third place and Corti is only 5 points behind his team mate. The sixth round of the Superstock season is certain to be exciting with everyone wanting the win.