Motorcycling: Walker seeks Petronas reliability on home track

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chris Walker will learn at Brands Hatch tomorrow whether his Foggy Petronas FP1 motorcycle can reverse the team's embarrassing run of failures in front of home fans.

Chris Walker will learn at Brands Hatch tomorrow whether his Foggy Petronas FP1 motorcycle can reverse the team's embarrassing run of failures in front of home fans.

Walker, 32, will start qualifying runs in preparation for Sunday's European round of the World Superbike Series at the Kent circuit, hoping that engineers have finally cured the bike's notorious reliability problems.

"I've only finished two of my last six races," Walker said yesterday. "The engineers have done a lot of work on the bike since the last round, but I will only know when I get on the track whether I will be able to finish the races." The team owner, Carl Fogarty, has hired the legendary Ricardo engineering company to find more power and durability from the 900cc, three-cylinder engine.

At Brands last year, the team scored only a 17th place. In the World Superbike round at Silverstone this year, the Australian Troy Corser finished seventh in one race, but Walker broke three ribs in practice and could finish no higher than 12th.

Ricardo gave the team a more powerful engine for the last round of the series at Laguna Seca, California, but there were three retirements in the two races and only a 10th place for Corser.

"We've been unlucky," Walker said. "The bike has more speed and torque, but little electrical and mechanical problems have stopped us from finishing races."

He and Corser languish in ninth and 10th places in the Superbike championships, a series dominated by Ducati's V Twin and Honda's four-cylinder Fireblade. That is not good news for Fogarty, 39, who won four world titles as a rider.

"We should go well at Brands because it suits our bike," he said. "You can be down on power compared to other machines but, with a good set-up and tyre choice, you can still set good lap times." Fogarty claims his bike now develops 190bhp - still some 20bhp less than the Honda run by the Dutch team, Ten Kate, which has won the last three races in the Superbike series.

"Troy has won here twice before," Fogarty said. "The engine development team has been working day and night, and I think both riders will be in the top six on Sunday."

Britain's James Toseland, 23, will defend a three-point lead on Sunday from his Ducati Fila team-mate, Regis Laconi. But both will be under attack from the 21-year-old Australian phenomenon, Chris Vermeulen, on the Ten Kate Honda.

Comments