Wild-cards threaten Ducati’s winning streak
22 April 2003 00:00
The Fila Ducati team will be looking to continue their winning streak at the third round of the World Superbike champioship at Sugo, Japan, this weekend but all the riders in the championship are aware of the strong threat presented by local wild-card entries.
Local riders always put in a strong show at the track with only Colin Edwards able to break a seven-year run of Japanese wins when he took the first race last year.
Fila Ducati rider Neil Hodgson is confident that he can clock up another double win on the 999 and laid down the challenge to the local riders. He said: " I’m really pumped up for the Sugo race. Not many people like the track but it’s one of my favourites. I don’t know who the wildcards are this year but I hope there are plenty from the other manufacturers. I'm ready for a good race. "
The main wild-card threat will come from Team HRC rider Hitoyasu Izutsu who will be riding a Honda VTR 1000 SPW. The Japanese rider won both races at Sugo in 2000 and will be riding the bike that took both races last year when ridden by Colin Edwards and Makato Tamada.
The four wild-card entries for this year’s race include Izutsu, Noriyasu Numata riding for Team Foundation on a Ducati 996RS, Kenichiro Nakamura riding a Honda VTR1000 SP2 for Blue Helmet MSC, and Atsushi Watanabe riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000 for Team Suzuki.
Neither of the HM Plant Ducati riders are confident about racing at the track with Chris Walker admitting that he has never been able to ride well there and James Toseland riding it for the first time. But UnionBike rider Giovani Bussei is looking forward to the race with a more powerful Yamaha R1.
Free practice starts at 1am, UK time, on Friday with Superpole at 5am on Saturday. Racing starts at 3am on Sunday morning followed by the Race 2 at 6.30am. Check back regularly for all the news and results from Japan.
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