Can anyone topple the Ducati team of Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus? The pair dominated the first two World Superbike Championship races, but Sugo this weekend is a tough circuit featuring fast corners and tight chicanes.

Can anyone topple the Ducati team of Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus? The pair dominated the first two World Superbike Championship races, but Sugo this weekend is a tough circuit featuring fast corners and tight chicanes.

Very few teams chose to do any pre-testing at the Japanese track and there a few strong local wild cards so there might be a few surprises.

“I feel very motivated now after a month’s gap since the last race in Australia. Physically I feel really good as well,” said Hodgson, who tops the standings.

“I’m not worried about trying to break any records or win as many races as possible, I just want to win the championship. There are a few wild card riders here, which could make things difficult. The circuit is fantastic, it’s in my top 3 of all circuits, it’s just the last corner that causes a few problems and it’s easy to make a mistake. My form is quite good here, even in 1998 I twice finished fifth on a Kawasaki with a couple of wild-cards ahead of me, while last year I nearly beat Colin Edwards.”

His team-mate has four second-place finishes this season, and is hoping to show Hodgson a thing or two this time. “For sure it’s possible to win here, I have to find a good set-up, the bike is perfect, the best bike here but you need time to get the best out of it. This is a really technical track, quite difficult and to go fast you need to go slow,” said Xaus.

“You need to find a good set-up here because there is not much grip. We hope to do a good race, qualify in front of the Japanese guys and then start Europe as a new season with a lot of points,” he said.

The Foggy Petronas team of Troy Corser James Haydon have started well with Corser finishing seventh at Valencia, and fifth at Phillip Island.

“I’m confident the bike will handle well here and I’m just hoping that our latest engine developments will give extra power and torque, especially coming out of the last chicane before going on to the uphill start-finish straight. I’ve done well there in the past and have nearly always been near the podium,” said Corser.

Wild card rider Ryuichi Kiyonari has joined the BKM Honda team for the Sugo event. The 20-year-old is the reigning Japanese Supersport championship. "It's a good opportunity for me and I'm hoping for a top 10 finish in Sunday's race even though I know how strong the competition is."

Frenchman Sebastien Charpentier joins the Klaffi Honda team. "Sebastien is replacing Gianluigi Scalvini for the rest of the 2003 season. World Supersport is a very tough class and Scalvini found it difficult to adjust from the 125cc GP class. We've been helping Scalvini organise a new ride and he'll contest the Italian Supersport championship for the Rumi Honda team," said team owner Klaus Klaffenbock.

Original article from Car