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So Close To The Podium, Yet So Far, At Infineon

By May 2, 2004April 26th, 20212004 News

Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki concluded their weekend at Infineon Raceway with an up-and-down raceday. It was expected to be a trying round, with no testing and a lack of data available to help them get to speed at the 2.2-mile circuit as quickly as many rival squads that did.

The team got off to a strong start in the morning’s Superstock final, with Steve Rapp and Vincent Haskovec each claiming top ten finishes. While the team’s strategy of taking advantage of the GSX-R750’s superior tire conservation characteristics was spoiled by a red flag, the team made the best of the situation, altering their Michelin-shod racebikes’ set-ups during the red flag period with positive effect.

Rapp took full advantage of the improvements, finishing seventh, right on the tail of the official Suzuki factory entry.

“We went out there and did the best we could,” the Californian said afterwards. “We weren’t hoping to see a red flag, but when we did we used the opportunity to get a few things sorted out a bit better. It ended up being a pretty positive race, and it was good to be running with the factory bike.”

Vincent Haskovec came home a solid ninth, less than three seconds behind Rapp.

In the 17-lap Supersport race, held in 93-degree heat, Rapp and Canadian Chris Peris finished 12 and 18th.

Peris said, “We were working really hard to get our set-up 100% this weekend, but we were unable to really get it perfect. We made some changes before the race, and kind of went the wrong way, but overall, I feel we’re coming along. I really tried hard and the team did as well. It just didn’t go our way this time.”

In the weekend’s final race, the team’s brightest hope for a spot on the podium evaporated in disappointing fashion. Haskovec, who qualified third for the Formula Xtreme final, was running in the top three during the race as well, but was forced to retire when his machine suffered a rare mechanical problem.