This morning Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), Broc Parkes (Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team) and Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike) met up in front of the famous landmark statue in Nelson Mandela Square in downtown Sandton, one of Johannesburg’s suburbs, for a photo shoot before being taken on a wildlife tour at a nearby Lion Park.
The riders had the opportunity to meet and interact with lion cubs and giraffes before heading back to the circuit for their afternoon activities.
Later in the pre-race press conference held in the circuit, Fabrizio, Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike), Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing), Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki Alstare, replacing the injured Max Neukirchner), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda), Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad), national champion Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team, replacing Makoto Tamada) and Shaun Whyte from Zimbabwe (substitute rider for David Checa in the Yamaha France GMT 94 IPONE team) were introduced to national and international media by Stephen Watson, CEO of Gauteng Motorsport Company and SBK Director Paolo Ciabatti.
Ben Spies: “The season so far has had its ups and downs but so far it’s been more good than bad. I feel sure it’s going to be another good weekend, we had a really good test here, at that point only the second time for me on the bike, but now we have a much better motorcycle and set-up. Everybody is riding really good and every weekend is really tough.”
Michel Fabrizio: “The tests were the first time out for everyone, now we have already done five races, for sure it’ll be a lot more difficult this weekend. I really like this circuit, hopefully we can have a good weekend as well here like last weekend.”
Max Biaggi: “Since December we have improved a lot, here it was just the second test. Now we have really stepped up. Temperature conditions will be much different now so I will put my head down and try to do my best.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “I did a good test here last year. I know which is the programme on my bike for this circuit and I try to do the same results as I did at Monza or better here.”
Ruben Xaus: “I like Kyalami, the last time I raced here I was in the points. The BMW bike was new when I tested here, things are coming on. There is always too short a time to get the bikes ready, but I’m looking forward to a good result.”
Fonsi Nieto: “For me everything is new, track and bike, not the team however I know them from last year. It’s not the best moment for coming back but I’m happy to be here in Kyalami.”
Sheridan Morais: “To come in with a team of this stature is a good thing. You can only do the best you can. Our national times aren’t too far off the times in testing so that’s where we’re going to be this weekend.”
Shaun Whyte: “It’s a dream come true to be in World Superbikes and I’m grateful for this opportunity to be able to race with these guys. I’m hoping I can do something to keep the honour of the Zimbabwe flag up.”
The South African Round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship takes place from Friday 15 thru Sunday 17 May. Superbike and Supersport free practice and qualifying are held on the first two days, with Superpole scheduled for Saturday at 15.00. The two 24-lap (101.904 km) Superbike races are scheduled to run on Sunday at 12.00 and 15.30, with the 23-lap (97.658 km) Supersport race at 13.25 local time.
ABOUT THE KYALAMI CIRCUIT:
The track is situated on the plateau surrounding South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg, and it has always been the scene for some spectacular racing, with a prestigious list of winners over the years. In the five editions held there from 1998 to 2002, Colin Edwards is the most successful rider with three wins to his name, following by Pierfrancesco Chili, Carl Fogarty and Troy Bayliss, the last winner, on 2 each and one for Ben Bostrom. The layout of the track, measuring 4.246 metres, is technically challenging. It has 11 left-hand curves and 6 right, and a difference in elevation between the various sections, that makes it difficult for riders and forces them to remain fully-focussed throughout the entirety of the lap.
TV SCHEDULE: Eurosport (pan-European): Sunday 17 May, Superpole - 11.30 (delayed), SBK race 1 - 12.00 (live), Supersport - 17.30 (delayed), SBK race 2 - 17.45 (delayed). British Eurosport (UK): Sunday 17 May, Superbike race 1 & 2, Supersport - 10.30 (live)