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WSSSpainMarch 28, 2004
World Supersport Championship 2004 - Round 2
Phillip Island

Parkes Fourth as Wildcard Brookes Takes Aussie Win

With the sun beating down on the 23-rider Supersport field the unpredictable nature of the Supersport class was underlined once more, with favourites falling by the wayside and an unexpected winner, Castrol Honda Racing wildcard Josh Brookes - competing first ever World Supersport race. He took his victory after a race long battle with his fellow countryman Kevin Curtain (Yamaha).

With the Ten Kate Honda pairing of Karl Muggeridge and Broc Parkes first and third after qualifying, and fully competitive in the early laps of the race, it looked like a bumper day for the Dutch team's Aussie pairing. Eachwas, however, to suffer misfortune, compounded when championship leader Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Yamaha) finished third, extending his championship lead.

Parkes slowed as his imperfect race suspension set-up told in the later laps, but the young protégé of former World Champion Wayne Gardner secured fourth place and his first points of the year. Muggeridge had an as yet undiagnosed engine problem in the last few laps, slowing from third to finish 12th.

The Klaffi Honda pairing of Sebastien Charpentier and Max Neukirchner faredsomewhat better against the hot track and the hotter competition, with Charpentier the third Honda rider in the top five; teenager Max Neukirchnera brilliant eighth on his first visit to the fast and challenging 4.445km circuit, in the state of Victoria.

The Honda Italia Megabike teamsters, Alessio Corradi and Denis Sacchetti, were unsatisfied with their day's work, with the ever combative Corradi seventh, his younger and less experienced team-mate 17th and out of the points.

Parkes, despite his third place qualifying, was unhappy with his inability to stay on terms after a sparkling start to the race. "The set-up wasn't quite right all weekend," he stated. "It got better but we didn't quite know what to do to improve it enough. We tried lowering it and raising it at both ends but because we were in Valencia, and did a lot of testing before this race, I think maybe it was something internal in the suspension we could have changed. But it could have been a lot worse. At least we got some points this time."

Charpentier's weekend was a tough one, but one which lifted his spirits after a round one disqualification. "For me it was very important to finish the race because of the no score in Valencia," said the Frenchman. "I pushed very hard in the middle of the race but two or three laps from the end I had to relax. The race was not very easy for me but I finished with good points."

Corradi, looking for his first Honda podium, stated: "My race was not so good because I had the same problem as in the qualifying session yesterday. The temperature was so high and my chassis set-up was not good. In the free practice the time is not so bad but when the temperature is high I push and push and think I am going fast - but the lap time is bad."

Pure joy was the reaction of German rookie Neukirchner to his eighth place. "My second World Supersport race and I finished in eighth position! I like tracks with fast and flowing nature," explained Max. "Valencia was more stop-start but this was a better track for me."

In 12th, Muggeridge was disappointed not to take what seemed a sure podium. "The engine just stopped," he explained. "We're down but not out. I was having some trouble with the front end but coming into this race I was determined to bring it in strong for a good finish. Third was mine, even if Jurgen was a little bit behind - but far enough back for me to handle in the last laps."

Sacchetti, determined to score some points, said "I have not had any experience at Phillip Island before, but still I am not happy. However, I finished the race, which is more than I can say for the opening round at Valencia. I had a few problems throughout the race, and I know that I am capable of a much better result."

Arguably the star of the Phillip Island show proved to be the unlikely figure of Brookes, who commented on his win. "At the start I felt pretty comfortable but then after a few laps I started to feel tired and got passed by a few of the guys," he declared. "I knew that to have any chance of winning I needed to stay with the front two and once I got into second Curtain was setting a hot pace and we were able to break away. This has been a dream of mine for years - to win a world championship event."

In the World Supersport Championship, van den Goorbergh leads on 41 points, with Fabien Foret (Yamaha) on 30, Curtain on 27 and Josh Brookes on 25. Parkes is the highest placed regular Honda competitor, in eighth place with 13 points.

World Superbike Races Regis Laconi (Ducati) followed up his Superpole win in qualifying with his first points score of the season, a perfect 25, in the first 22-lap World Superbike race at Phillip Island. Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) rode the all-new privately entered Fireblade to its first World Superbike podium finish, after a long recovery from ending lap one in seventh place.

Laconi's team-mate James Toseland had to dig in deep to secure third place, after a lack of rear traction had seen him lose an earlier duel with long time second place man, Steve Martin (Ducati), who was an eventual fourth.

After early second race leader Laconi crashed out of contention and new leader Martin's machine broke down Garry McCoy (Ducati) took his maiden victory on home soil, followed at a 4.9 second distance by Vermeulen and the more remote 6.4 seconds to Pierfrancesco Chili (Ducati).

In the World Championship itself, Toseland leads despite his second race crash, on 61 points to Chili's 56 and Vermeulen's 55.

Next race for both Superbike and Supersport classes takes place at Misano in Italy, on 18 April.

Supersport Championship 2004, Round 2
Phillip Island

1 J. BROOKES (Castrol Honda cing)
2 K. CURTAIN (Yamaha Motor Deutschland)
3 J. VD GOORBERGH (Yamaha Italia)
4 B. PARKES (Ten Kate Honda)
5 S. CHARPENTIER (Klaffi Honda)
6 F. FORET/FRA (Yamaha Italia)
7 A. CORRADI (Italia Megabike)
8 M.NEUKIRCHNER (Klaffi Honda)
12 K. MUGGERIDGE (Ten Kate Honda)


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