MAY 18: Experienced Australian motorcycle rider Peter Goddard today confirmed he would race the newly-developed Benelli Tornado 900 for the first time in the World Superbike Championship in next month's round of the series at Misano in Italy.

Goddard revealed the Italian manufacturer would make it's championship debut in round eight on June 24, following a successful two-day test on the 4km Misano circuit over the past two days.

"Things are progressing so it is time to start (racing) and Misano will be our debut," he said.

The former World Endurance Championship winner clocked a best lap time of 1-min 38.30-secs on the three-cylinder Benelli during the Misano test, which was also attended by the works Ducati, Honda, and Aprilia teams.

Goddard's time was 1.25-secs outside his best lap of 1-min 37.05-secs on the way to finishing eighth in both races of the Misano round of the championship in 2000 on a works Kawasaki, and 2.32-secs slower than the race lap record of 1-min 35.98-secs held by Australia's Troy Corser on an Aprilia.

The 36-year-old from Wollongong said a further test on the Benelli was planned for June 14-15 in preparation for the machine's championship debut.

"The chassis now is quite well sorted geometry-wise, and it will be mainly suspension tuning as we get the improved motor performance hopefully for the next test," said Goddard.

"We have a lot of work to do within the whole team, but it is all underway and it will be great to get to our first race."

"The team is working very hard and expanding at the same time so it is quite encouraging to see it grow."

Goddard was a fulltime works rider in the championship with Suzuki in 1998, and with Aprilia the following year when it made it's debut in the series.

"We (Benelli) are about 2-seconds a lap off the best race lap times with race tyres, so that is about the same level as the Aprilia when I started," said Goddard.

Goddard has two race wins in the championship, in the Australian rounds in 1989 at Oran Park in NSW and at Phillip Island in Victoria the following year. His record also includes winning the All-Japan 500cc Championship in 1991, two podium finishes in the Suzuka Eight-Hour endurance event, and making 17 starts in the 500cc grand prix world championship between 1990-97.

He joined Benelli this year after racing in selected rounds of the World Superbike Championship with Kawasaki in 2000.

The Benelli factory is at Pesaro on the Adriatic Coast, and the race team is based at Serravalle in San Marino. Benelli's past racing achievements include winning the 250cc grand prix world championship twice, with Italian Dario Ambrosini in 1950 and Australia's Kel Carruthers in 1969.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Mike Porter Tel: 61 7 5591 1773, 0417 311 997. Fax: 61 7 5591 4955. E-Mail: mikep@qldnet.com.au

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