WSBK

Aussies ready for Misano Superbikes

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Australian Chris Vermeulen definitely knows the fast way around the Misano circuit in San Marino, and he's confident that will be his ticket to a mid-year revival in round eight of the Superbike World Championship this weekend.

After a wretched year with injury and a string of pedestrian results for a rider of such high quality, Vermeulen has earmarked the normally sun-kissed Misano - located on the Italian Adriatic coast -- as the ideal time to break the shackles from a barren campaign.

"I've had some decent results at the Misano circuit over the years with a mix of podiums in world superbike, world supersport and MotoGP, but never the top step," said Vermeulen.

"Unfortunately I don't think this year we'll have the package to reach the top step of the podium, but I do hope that I will be able to make a significant leap up as the four-week break has done me good."

The factory Kawasaki rider spent the down time in Australia training and receiving regular physiotherapy on his injured right knee.

"My knee is coming along, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Misano brings us," he said.

"The event is always a favourite amongst fans with the sunshine and Italian passion for racing, so I hope we can put on a good show and improve on our current form."

The Kawasaki Racing Team didn't go testing during the four-week recess, but the Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha, Ducati and BMW factory outfits all took advantage of the long break to get out and about, many at Misano itself.

Wollongong's Troy Corser (BMW) was one of those to hit Misano, at a circuit where he won both races in 2000 on an Aprilia.

"The Italian fans certainly make themselves heard at Misano. They love their motorcycle racing and welcome us with open arms," said Corser.

"I've competed at the circuit many times, and it's a real fixture of the Superbike World Championship calendar. Modifications were made to the circuit in 2006 and we now race clockwise.

"That was a nice change, although this was a familiar venue for the riders, we all had to start from square one again.

"The track is quite twisty and there are a few bumps, but it's still pretty fast. Returning to sea level means we will have more power again."

Corser is seventh in the standings, but only 24pts behind third-placed Jonathan Rea (Honda).

The championship lead changed hands at the last round in America with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) seizing the initiative from Suzuki's long-time leader Leon Haslam.

If Biaggi is the conqueror in race one at Misano, recent history suggests he will then turn it into a clean sweep because all his six race wins in 2010 have come in twos with doubles at Portimao, Monza and Miller Motorsports Park.

But there will be plenty of riders who fancy their chances of wearing Biaggi down, including his team-mate Leon Camier, Rea, Ducati duo Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, Yamaha pairing James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow, and Spaniard Carlos Checa (Ducati), who was desperately unlucky in America after mechanical woes robbed him of two certain victories.

And even someone like Max Neukirchner, who has struggled since joining Rea at Honda, is a race winner at Misano, as is Corser's team-mate Ruben Xaus.

In fact, Xaus has been outstanding over the journey at Misano, and only Australia's Troy Bayliss has more WSBK victories at the 4.226km circuit.

In terms of sheer quality, Vermeulen's best result at Misano was in 2007 when he finished second behind countryman Casey Stoner in the MotoGP race.

In world supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu extended his championship lead to 6pts over fellow Honda rider Eugene Laverty at Miller after recording his first win since round two in Portugal.

It is very important to try for another win this weekend to keep the momentum in the championship and, even if a podium is a good target, I will try with my team to win the race," Sofuoglu said.

Laverty was second at Misano in 2009, with Sofuoglu among a long list of DNFs in a race of high attrition.

World superbike, Rd8 will be live on Fox Sports 2 at 7.30pm this Sunday

WORLD SUPERBIKE STANDINGS (AFTER ROUND SEVEN OF 13):
1 Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia 257
2 Leon Haslam, Great Britain, Suzuki 242
3 Jonathan Rea, Great Britain, Honda 151
4 Carlos Checa, Spain, Ducati 141
5 Noriyuki Haga, Japan, Ducati 135
6 James Toseland, Great Britain, Yamaha 132
7 Troy Corser, Australia, BMW 127
8 Leon Camier, Great Britain, Aprilia 115
9 Cal Crutchlow, Great Britain, Yamaha 107
10 Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Ducati 102
19 Chris Vermeulen, Australia, Kawasaki 9
24 Broc Parkes, Australia,

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