BAYLISS FIT AND READY FOR ASSEN BATTLE
The fifth round of the World Superbike Championship takes place this weekend at the Assen TT circuit in the Netherlands, four months before its traditional late summer date, a switch that was brought about by a reshuffle in the calendar dates.
This year's championship battle was thrown into turmoil by Ducati Xerox Team rider Troy Bayliss's crash at Donington.
While Troy was able to limit the damage at Valencia with a heroic podium finish, he needs to cut the gap to the leaders, James Toseland (Honda) and Max Biaggi (Suzuki) with a couple of good results this weekend. The Yamaha duo of Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser however are both within closer range.
Troy Bayliss, 5th in championship (90 points)
Following his recent injuries, the 38-year-old Australian scored a gutsy third place finish in Valencia and will be back more or less at full strength for the fast Assen race. Troy has competed in eight races at the Dutch TT track, winning three of them, but he has also crashed out on a couple of occasions.
"I'm definitely in better shape than what I was last time we raced and I'm looking forward to doing the stuff at Assen. Everything is OK and I've got no problems with my hand or down under" he declared. "Assen has been up and down for me over the years and I've had a few strange moments there - some good and some bad - but last year it was looking OK until I crashed in the rain. I also won the championship there in 2001 and then lost it there in 2002! I do like racing at Assen, we could get strange weather at any time of the year really, but this time round the weather looks much better! 61 points is a lot to make up on the leader, it's not totally out of reach but it certainly creates a bit of a situation where we have to have a perfect year now. We have to be very good, James has been riding well and has been very strong, but, you know, things can always turn sour in racing".
Lorenzo Lanzi, 6th in championship (87 points)
25-year-old Lanzi has four participations to his name at Assen in 2005 and 2006, but has never gone higher than a sixth place on both occasions.
"L'anno scorso, in condizioni di asciutto, in prova siamo andati molto bene qui ad Assen. Ma in gara, per due anni di seguito, ho ottenuto soltanto un sesto e un settimo posto, spero di fare meglio questa volta, anche se il ritmo dei primi si è alzato, come abbiamo visto nelle ultime due gare" ha dichiarato Lorenzo. "Fortunatamente il weekend promette bel tempo, quindi condizioni perfette. Già da domani cercherò di prepararmi al meglio in vista della gara, perché con questo caldo sarà molto importante la scelta delle gomme. Dopo un bell'inizio di stagione voglio tornare al più presto sul podio e vincere delle gare. In classifica non sono molto lontano dal terzo classificato, cercherò di raccogliere più punti possibili da qui in avanti."
Championship Points (after 4 of 13 rounds): Riders - 1. Toseland (Honda) 151; 2. Biaggi (Suzuki) 138; 3. Haga (Yamaha) 124; 4. Corser (Yamaha) 101; 5. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 90; 6. Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 87; etc. Manufacturers - 1. Honda 160; 2. Suzuki 138; 3. Yamaha 134; 4. Ducati 132; 5. Kawasaki 53.
Name: Van Drenthe Circuit Assen TT
Length: 4.555 kms
Pole Position: left
Finish line length: 560 m
Race distance: 2 x 22 laps / 100.210 km
Statistics : Best lap: Corser (Suzuki) 1m38.965s (2006). Lap record: Bayliss (Ducati) 1m40.767s (2006). Superpole: Corser (Suzuki) 1m38.965s (2006).
2006 Results : Race 1 - 1. Walker (Kawasaki); 2. Pitt (Yamaha); 3. Fabrizio (Honda). Race 2 - 1. Bayliss (Ducati); 2. Pitt; 3. Nieto (Kawasaki).
TV Coverage : Eurosport (Italy) Sunday 29 April, 1200 race 1 (live), 1830 race 2 (delayed). Eurosport 2 Saturday 28 April, 1715 Superpole (as live). La7 (Italy) Saturday 28 April, 1550 Superpole (live); Sunday 29 April, 1145 race 1 (live), 1520 race 2 (live). RAI2 (Italy) Sunday 29 April, 1730 races 1 + 2 (highlights).