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WSSSpainFebruary 29, 2004
World Supersport Championship 2004 - Round 1
Valencia, Spain

Hard First Race for Top Honda Riders

After a dramatic and sometimes contentious 23-lap World Supersport race at Valencia, the top Honda riders, who had virtually dominated qualifying, found a change in fortune. The race was conducted in dry track conditions, despite the cold and wind, plus the added complication of an impromptu wet warm up session when unexpected rains appeared and soaked the circuit in the morning.

Having made excellent starts, the pairing of Broc Parkes and Karl Muggeridge (both Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) were the first to suffer at the hands of fate.

Parkes, the early and convincing leader, fell on lap three and could not restart, ending his day in an unexpected and unwelcome fashion after his second place qualification.

Pole man Muggeridge, engaged in a fight for the lead with Klaffi Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier, gradually slipped back through the field as his rear tyre lost traction. Another rider hit him in the closing stages and finished eighth overall.

The top finishing Honda rider, and thus the top rider in the current championship standings, was WSS part-timer Werner Daemen (van Zon Honda CBR600RR) in seventh.

For Charpentier, a front row starter, a jump-start penalty was to be his undoing, after he missed the flags for him to return to the pits and take his penalty. He was eventually excluded from the results and what was an almost certain podium finish.

His teammate, Max Neukirchner (Klaffi Honda CBR600RR) also fell in the race but restarted to finish 14th, scoring two points on his World Supersport debut.

The Team Italia Megabike Honda squad, featuring riders Alessio Corradi and Denis Sacchetti, both retired with technical problems on their CBR600RR machines.

The race itself was won by former MotoGP rider Jurgen van Den Goorbergh (Yamaha) from his teammate Fabien Foret and Suzuki pilot Katsuaki Fujiwara. Muggeridge, the King of both preseason and race qualifying was mystified as to why his tyre did not work the way he and the team intended. "We chose a medium rear tyre and it turned out to be the wrong choice," said a rueful Muggeridge. "From the fourth lap the bike started sliding and I went backwards - just as other people went forwards. It was really frustrating and then I got hit on the last lap and almost crashed. It's not all over yet, and it's a long season with a lot of points up for grabs."

For Parkes, the first day of the season was one to forget. "I got a really good start," said Parkes, "maybe my start was too good. I felt that I entered the corner the same as ever and opened the throttle just the same - but the back came round and I highsided."

Charpentier, stuck in the slipstream of a bunch of warring riders, missed the notification of his jump-start. "I really didn't think I had done anything wrong," he said. "I was so intent on the race that I missed the jump start flag and then it was all over. I am really disappointed because I think we could have had a great result."

German rookie Neukirchner, in his first World Championship Supersport race, fought hard for his 14th place. "I had a front end slide and fell off," he stated. "I jumped up and restarted and managed to get to the end of the race. I scored some points which is something positive that came from today."

Corradi was moving through the top places at a rapid pace, and made his way to fifth place before he was forced to retire. "The oil cooler bolt broke I think, and that was the cause of the smoke from the bike," said the Italian. "I had a good choice of tyre, almost perfect, a good rhythm for the race and it was possible to have finished in third place."

18-year-old Sacchetti explained his afternoon's work. "I had a jump start and after I came in the engine stopped. I don't know why and the team must investigate further."

In the first round of the World Superbike Championship, a dramatic and wet-weather affected Race one gave James Toseland (Ducati) the win after early leader and pole man Regis Laconi (Ducati) fell on lap one. Pierfrancesco Chili (Ducati) secured second place on his 2002-spec machine after a ride from a poor grid position. The Petronas scored its first podium position thanks to a smooth wet and dry ride by Chris Walker on the three- cylinder machine.

Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) scored a clear win in Race Two, from Toseland, and a first time podium rider, Steve Martin (Ducati). While reigning World Supersport Champion Chris Vermeulen raced the Ten Kate Honda to 12th in Race one and fifth in Race Two. A good result for the virtually standard CBR1000RR fielded as a private entry by Gerrit Ten Kate In the World Championship itself, Toseland leads all his peers with 45 points, to Pierfrancesco Chili's 33 and Haga's 25.

Next race for both Superbike and Supersport classes takes place at Phillip Island in Australia, on March 28.

Supersport Championship 2004, Round 1
Valencia, Spain

1 J. VD GOORBERGH (Yamaha Italia)
2 F. FORET (Yamaha Italia)
3 K. FUJIWARA (Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra)
4 L. LANZI (Ducati Breil)
5 S. CHAMBON (Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra)
6 V. IANNUZZO (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
7 W.DAEMEN (Alpha Technik - Van Zon)
8 K. MUGGERIDGE (Ten Kate Honda)
14 M.NEUKIRCHNER (Klaffi Honda)


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