The Ducati Xerox Team arrive at the Automotodrom Brno for this weekend’s ninth round of the World Superbike Championship at the spectacular and notoriously difficult Czech Republic circuit in the forests around the town of Brno. Not only is the Automotodrom one of the most fearsome circuits on the calendar, but it also has a reputation of not being a particularly happy hunting-ground for the Ducati Xerox Team, which aims to set the record straight this weekend.
The last round at Misano saw Bayliss step up his title defence with a double triumph that takes the 38-year-old Australian rider’s mid-season winning streak to three races. After zero points scored at Donington due to his nasty crash, Troy is now back within striking distance of championship leader James Toseland (Honda), who is just 21 points in front.
Troy Bayliss, 2nd in championship (239 points)
Testing one month ago saw Troy Bayliss just a fraction away from nailing a 2 minute dead time on a qualifying tyre in cool conditions, but he knows that conditions will now be a lot hotter now and that the fickle Brno track could easily play tricks on the twin-cylinder Italian machines. A DNF and an eighth place were the best results Troy could put together in a disappointing weekend in 2006 on his first Superbike visit to the circuit.
"I have a feeling Brno will be difficult for us" declared Troy. "The reason is the track layout, the conditions, a bit of everything really. It’s going to be hot, we do struggle in those conditions and we don’t really know why. If we did, then we’d sort it but it’s not easy. We’re going there and we would like to win but honestly I think it’s going to be more difficult than that and we just want to keep the points as close as we can. Testing went pretty well three weeks ago, we were quick on a qualifying tyre, and we did a couple of race simulations but we didn’t exactly get what we wanted from the tests so we’ll just have to wait and see what conditions are like when we get to Brno. I remember last year Kagayama did a couple of great races so I’m hoping he does some more this year!"
Lorenzo Lanzi, 6th in championship (133 points)
The 25 year-old Italian has four races to his name at the Brno circuit, but his best result so far has been sixth place, which he scored twice in 2005. Lorenzo showed some signs of a mid-season revival at Misano but he now finds himself having to defend sixth place in the table from a fast-approaching Ruben Xaus.
"Brno is a track that I like a lot" declared Lorenzo. "In testing we didn’t go bad, especially with the qualifying tyres, but on race tyres we were a bit further down the order. It’s a strange circuit for us because the track conditions change all the time and we seem to have more problems here than the others. Every day is different, but we hope to go there and have a more normal Sunday than what we have had in past years. We know that Brno is a track that creates problems for us, but judging by the results of the tests, I’m optimistic for this weekend even though conditions will be different".
Championship Points (after 8 of 13 rounds): Riders - 1. Toseland (Honda) 260; 2. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 239; 3. Haga (Yamaha ) 234; 4. Biaggi (Suzuki) 217; 5. Corser (Yamaha) 182; 6. Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 133; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 234; 2. Yamaha 277; 3. Honda 274; 4. Suzuki 233; 5. Kawasaki 102; 6. MV Agusta 1.