With two rounds down and eleven to go, the second of three consecutive fly-away races for World Superbikes takes place this weekend at the high-altitude Kyalami circuit on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. A scintillating start to the season by the reigning world champion Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada), with four wins and maximum points from Valencia and Phillip Island, has catapulted the Australian, who celebrated his 33rd birthday last week, into a commanding championship lead. However Bayliss knows that the championship is far from over and anything could happen in the remaining races, starting from this weekend’s round at Kyalami.
“The last two races in Spain and Australia have obviously gone very well and they were both circuits where we tested during the winter. We’ve also tested here as well and improved on last year’s performance, so I’ll be aiming to continue where I left off at the last round” declared Bayliss. “I love coming to Kyalami, it’s a great track and we always have a good time so I’m looking forward to racing here on Sunday. The whole package gets better every year, Ducati make improvements with the bike, the engine and the tyres and I’m sure we’re going to go a lot faster than we did last year if we get good weather.”
Ducati Infostrada team-mate Ruben Xaus’s season switched into top gear in Australia when he twice finished on the podium with third place in both races. The 23-year-old from Barcelona finished ninth and fifth in the two South African races during his first WSBK season, but now believes he has the ability and the results behind him to take on the front-runners.
“I just want to improve all the time and finish races in the top positions like in Australia because last year I made a lot of mistakes” declared Xaus. “To be on the podium would be OK for me here. The Phillip Island races have given me a lot of confidence but the season is long and I want to go well in these overseas rounds before we get to Europe where I know the circuits better. Kyalami is very difficult but it’s a really nice track, this one has something special and I hope to do well here.”
Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) holds all the records around Kyalami after his performance at this track last year when he finished fourth in race 1 and won the second. The 27-year-old Californian comes to Kyalami confident that the track will offer a more level playing-field and enable him to repeat his 2001 results.
“Kyalami is a great place to race and I sure hope that we can challenge for the lead on Sunday. It’s a bit frustrating to know that you want to race for the win, but are not in a position to do so, like it was in Australia” declared Ben. “Things should go a lot better around here, I know the circuit well, having won here last year and the bike was perfect last time around at Phillip Island. I aim to get a good start to the weekend tomorrow and then we’ll get down to some real action on Sunday”.
THE KYALAMI CIRCUIT
Kyalami means ‘My Home’ in Zulu and has been the home of South African motorsport since it opened in December 1961. The complex has been remodelled a couple of times in its history and the latest version of the circuit dates back to 1991. The complex, located in the Midrand area of Johannesburg, which is the fastest growing industrial and commercial area in South Africa, is at 1700 metres above sea level, which results in an engine power-loss of around 10% due to the thinner atmosphere.