With just under a month to go before the start of the FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa, the country is also preparing to host the next round of the FIM Superbike World Championship this coming weekend.
The World SBK teams will battle it out at the Kyalami motorcycle racing circuit outside Johannesburg for podium places and points in the leading world championship for production-based motorcycles.
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport will travel to South Africa having put together a string of solid WSBK racing results over the European race weekends in Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and having achieved the team’s first podium in Italy.
The BMW S1000RR team will be aiming to continue this upward trend on the sixth race weekend of the 2010 season.
Troy Corser says: "This Friday will be the first time I’ve been out on the Kyalami track on the BMW S 1000 RR. Last year my crash at Monza put me out of the race in South Africa. This circuit really is one for the riders and has a lot of uphill and downhill sections. Getting the right set-up for the bike is vital here, as the track is extremely bumpy."
"The bike is a lot further along than at this stage last year. Back then we were still getting to grips with the chassis and engine, and both Ruben and our reserve rider Steve Martin struggled at Kyalami. This year things look rather different. The bike’s good and I’ve always gone well at this circuit, so I’m expecting a good result."
Ruben Xaus says: "I like the race in South Africa. The country offers an interesting mix of different cultures, the people are very hospitable and the weather is usually good. I like riding at Kyalami. I have collected some good results there in the past. I’m really looking forward to the race weekend; the team is highly motivated and the bike is much better than a year ago."
"Kyalami is a real rider’s track with some tricky sections and big changes in elevation. Actually, there isn’t a single area on the course that isn’t up or downhill. Plus, the track surface is extremely uneven and you need a very good baseline set-up to post quick lap times. The relatively high altitude of the circuit means we lose a lot of engine power over most other race tracks. We have to adapt our riding style, as we can accelerate harder into the corners."
Berthold Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director) says: "With more than a third of the season behind us, we can be pleased with the way our World Championship campaign is going. After ten races we have already collected 95 points in the manufacturers’ standings – 36 more in total than at the same stage of last season – scored our first podium and finished in the top five three times. So the whole team deserves a lot of praise."
Everyone at Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport is looking forward to Kyalami. Back-to-back races always place a particularly heavy burden on the team, but we will be welcomed by an extremely friendly atmosphere in South Africa.
Kyalami lies 1,500 metres above sea level. The lower air pressure means that the engines produce around 20 per cent less power than at most of the other venues we visit during the season.
You need a good baseline set-up in order to achieve fast lap times at Kyalami, and this time around we’re expecting to benefit from our experience here last year."
Last year the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit returned to the Superbike World Championship calendar after a seven-year break, South Africa having been a regular fixture in the series between 1998 and 2002.
The circuit also hosted Formula One grands prix from 1967 to 1993. However, motorsport has been a rare sight at Kyalami in recent years as the organisers have wrestled with stipulations governing noise levels – the circuit is surrounded by a residential area.
The Kyalami circuit is located in Gauteng Province, between Johannesburg and the South African capital Pretoria, and has an anti-clockwise layout. The word "Kyalami" means "my home" in Zulu, one of the country’s national languages.
The riders need to have a lot of confidence in the set-up of their bikes over the uneven surface of the track. Both the steering responses of the machines and their braking performance must be spot on.
The first corner is particularly important, with the riders having to brake extremely hard under lean-in. Added to which, there are one or two high-speed sections, which also have to be factored into the bike set-up.