|BRITTEN MAKES DEBUT IN JAPAN|
The revolutionary Britten V1000 made its first ever appearance in Japan on 29th April 1998 in round 16 of the Battle of the Twins, at the Tsukuba Circuit, Japan. The new bike which is the 9th to be produced by the Christchurch based factory and was only completed days before being shipped to Japan, was ridden by New Zealand Superbike champion rider Chris Haldane. This was the first race for Chris on a new Britten and the first race for Britten with some new untried developments. The debut in Japan was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Real McCoy Ltd, ICI Autocolour and Mainfreight. The members of the Britten support team were accompanied by Mrs Kirsteen Britten and her son Sam.
Practice on the 28th went well. Haldane was careful with the bike and rode to study the track which unfortunately was limited by the time allocated to each rider to practice. However by the end of the third session he was well and truly comfortable with both the bike and the track - against some very stiff competition which included the Moriwaki VTR Honda Team and a very fast 916 Ducati.
Race day started with an incredibly short qualifying session that saw Haldane on the third row of the grid. The race began at 3 p.m. with a staggered start on the warm-up lap, re-formed on the grid and then was ready to start what was a very short race of 13 laps (2.1 km each).
As the Britten accelerated from the grid the clutch fused or locked (yet to be ascertained) as it performed its only action in the whole race. Sam Britten who was videoing form the sideline, caught the action as the bike almost flipped - the team say it has to be seen to be believed. Chris Haldane showed his championship riding ability as he hotly pursued the field after recovering from the mishap. Consequently he was 10th into the first corner and took a couple of laps to settle with no clutch, then he rode furiously, managing to catch up to the leaders and finish convincingly in 4th place - only seconds behind the winner. Although it was not the desired win it was a result that pleased the Britten Team immensely, especially as Haldane and 3 other riders reset the track record during the race for expert Twins (Open Twins) confirming their ability to remain a top contender against the latest Japanese and Italian Twins and top class Japanese professional riders.
The race results were 1st - 916 Ducati 13Õ06.658, 2nd - Honda VTR1000F 13Õ06.749, 3rd - Ducati 916SP 13Õ.18.435, 4th - Britten V1000 13Õ22.051.
Team Manager Wayne Alexander said their visit to Japan has been greatly facilitated by the support of Real McCoy who have provided the accommodation and on-track facilities for the team to use, and who have acted as interpreters for all the teams requirements. Other race teams have also been very supportive. He also commented that the Japanese Teams had been totally blown away by the performance of the Britten V1000 as they had not expected it to perform so well on a small track.
Race mechanic Tim Stewart will strip the bike today to ascertain the damage - hopefully it will be easily repaired before the Britten Team continues on to Germany where the Britten is to race at the Festival of Ducati at Oschersleben from 8 - 10 May.