The Fiat Yamaha Team head for the ante-penultimate installment of this year's MotoGP World Championship in Australia this weekend in the knowledge that the title has slipped from their grasp but with the clear focus of race wins and improved performance from the YZR-M1 machine to come over the last three rounds. Whilst the long-term target of the team has switched to a stronger challenge for honors in 2008, there is still the important matter of three race victories and the runner-up spot in the championship up for grabs over the next month.
It was largely with this in mind that Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards put in a day of testing following the last round at Motegi, with the pair completing valuable tyre work alongside Michelin and Rossi getting the chance to try two new prototype chassis. The breathtaking scenery of Phillip Island will certainly put the bike and riders to the sternest of tests, with its sweeping and flowing nature making for the ultimate challenge of machine control and throttle accuracy, not to mention the sheer bravery required from the rider.
KTM Repsol's Marc Coma came, saw and conquered the desert to emerge victorious in the tenth Pharaons Rally Egypt, his third consecutive victory of the season and one that consolidates his lead in the current world championship.
Clearly at home with the desert sands under the wheels of his KTM machine, Coma's victory was also a hat trick for the desert race, which he has now won for three consecutive seasons. Coma's superb and impressive ride was also the best possible preparation for the Dakar classic in January, where his is out to reclaim the victory denied him last season when he was injured in the closing stages of the race.
In what was an excellent event for the KTM Repsol team, Coma's young factory team-mate Jordi Viladoms was second and Italian Oscar Polli won the 450 cc category on his KTM 450 to underline the dominance of KTM in the event.
It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Norifumi (Norick) Abe (32) on October 7, 2007, following a traffic accident. Norick Abe, as he is fondly known by motorcycle race fans around the world, was competing this season in the JSB1000 class of the All-Japan Championships from the Y'S GEAR Racing team. Norick was riding a motorcycle in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Pref. when he met with an accident at about 6:20 pm and he was pronounced dead at 8:50 pm at the hospital where he was taken for treatment.
In 1993, Norifumi Abe became the youngest rider ever to win the pinnacle 500cc class of the All Japan Road Race Championships. The following year he was competing in the All Japan Superbike Championship when he joined the Yamaha camp and started competing in the World GP500cc class.
Max Biaggi raced to second place in today's final event of the 2007 World Superbike season at Magny Cours in France and lifted third place in the series.
The Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider, second before the event, 29 points behind series leader and newly-crowned champion James Toseland, was pipped to the second step on the championship rostrum by Nori Haga, who won both races today and finished just two points behind Toseland.
In race one, Biaggi fought his way up to sixth place after ending the first lap 15th after luckily avoiding a first corner incident involving Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) and James Toseland (Honda). And in race two, he took runner-up spot after a tremendous battle with Troy Corser (Yamaha).
Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) brought the Ducati 999 era to an end as he finished second and fifth in the final two races of the year in front of 75,000 spectators at Magny-Cours in France. With both wins going to Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) and the title in the hands of James Toseland (Honda), the 38 year-old Australian concluded the 2007 championship in fourth place on 372 points.
Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi had a disappointing end to his period in the factory Ducati Xerox Team with a nasty high-speed crash at the start of race 1. Lorenzo suffered bruising to his right shoulder, elbow and knee, which forced him to miss race 2. The Manufacturers' title went to Yamaha, with Ducati in second place, but there was satisfaction for the Italian manufacturer today as 19 year-old Niccol, Canepa clinched the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup with the new twin-cylinder Ducati 1098S in its first year of competition.
Yamaha has won the 2007 WSB Manufacturers Championship with a 28-point margin following today's season finale at Magny-Cours. Both Yamaha Motor Italia riders put in 100% effort today to give the manufacturer the title with Noriyuki Haga taking the double win and Troy Corser coming home in third and fourth. Both races were nail-biting events with Haga and Corser making good use of team work to gain maximum points.
Nobody could have asked for more from Haga as he led both races from start to finish, claiming his second double win of the season; the first being at Monza. Corser also put in a sterling performance during the day, battling with Neukirchner and Bayliss in race one and Biaggi and Nieto in race two, to take third and fourth.
Haga's double win was bittersweet as the rider ended the day just two points off the championship title. This is the third time Noriyuki has finished second in the championship.
MotoGP heads to the Southern Hemisphere this week for the 16th round of the world championship at Phillip Island. After a hugely uplifting performance last time out at Motegi, the Kawasaki Racing Team are looking forward to continuing their success following Randy de Puniet's excellent second place, his first premier class podium, and Anthony West's hard-fought seventh.
Riding the Kawasaki ZX-RR, powered by the latest incarnation of the 800cc, four-stroke engine, and running the Bridgestone tyres that have dominated the series so far this year, de Puniet is looking stronger than ever.
With the Ninja repeatedly showing itself to be one of the fastest bikes on the track, and the number 14 pilot regularly proving to be one of the fastest men, the swooping, high speed turns of the Australian circuit represent an alluring challenge and the 26-year-old Frenchman's aiming high.
Lorenzo Lanzi and Troy Bayliss will line up on the second row of the grid for the Ducati Xerox Team after a relatively below-par Superpole qualifying session at the Magny-Cours circuit. James Toseland (Honda) took the pole ahead of Max Neukirchner (Suzuki), with the other two title contenders Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) and Max Biaggi (Suzuki) in fourth and sixth respectively.
Quickest after the first two qualifying sessions, the 38 year-old Australian put together his fastest lap of the weekend in Superpole, but his time of 1m39.174s was only good enough for the second row. "I'm pretty disappointed with my lap to say the least" declared Troy. "That was as fast as I've ever gone around here, but I honestly thought I was going to do quite a bit better. It wasn't just one thing, the whole lap was missing just a little bit; I didn't flow with the bike and it didn't come together. I'm a bit disappointed to start on row 2, but the bike's been working quite good and I'm looking forward to a nice sunny day and some good racing.
Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra stand in rider Max Neukirchner has taken second place on the grid for tomorrow's final-round World Superbike Championship round at Magny Cours in France.
The young German, covering for injured Yukio Kagayama, recorded a time of 1'38.501, a whisker behind pole-setter James Toseland (1'38.501).
Despite only riding the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7 for the first time yesterday, he immediately got on terms with the bike and was a force to be reckoned with throughout practice and qualifying.
In this afternoon's 16-rider shoot-out he blasted round the 4.411 kilometre track in 1:38.524 and was only deprived of Superpole by a determined James Toseland (Honda). At the end, the margin between him and Toseland was only 0.023, so he will start alongside the series leader in tomorrow's pair of 23-lap races.
The Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team has its name on two spaces on the front row of the grid for the final race of the season tomorrow, with Corser in third and Haga in fourth.
Haga set a blistering pace during this morning's second qualifying session, becoming the first rider of the session to put in a 1'39 lap time and go top. He stayed at the top of the board until the final minute when Bayliss took 0.095 seconds off his time, pushing Haga to second place for Superpole. Corser used the session to work on his set-up and joined the 1'39 club five minutes from the end to go fifth fastest.
Corser was the first man out of the box for the team and managed a good lap to go second in the rankings behind Toseland, although he was later knocked into third by Neukirchner who was 0.1 seconds in front.