News 27 Jun 2009

WSBK: Local star Haslam top Honda at Donington on Friday

Stiggy Racing/Ten Kate Honda:

In the first day of qualifying at Donington, the Stiggy Racing Honda pairing of Leon Haslam and John Hopkins opened the Superbike free practice in a great way, by setting the third and seventh fastest time respectively.

Leon Haslam was found in the top regions of the sheets throughout the session and closed the first practice in a third fastest time of 1’31.209s. John Hopkins made his re-appearance with the team after sitting out the last race at Misano and set the seventh fastest time of the free practice session in 1’31.894s.

Haslam and Hopkins both managed to keep their lap times fast and consistent in the afternoon’s first qualifying practice. Haslam squeezed out the day’s second fastest time of 131.191s in the last minutes of the session and finds himself just 0.4s off the pace set by provisional pole sitter Michel Fabrizio, while Hopkins is found in 14th position with a best time of 1’32.007s.

Leon Haslam, 1’31.191s:
“ I am pretty happy with my qualifying results today. It started off wet which was good to get a couple of wet laps in. It wasn’t a full wet session so we didn’t quite get the wet set-up sorted yet, but the dry set-up is good. We were doing well on an old tyre and able to go into the top three. Then we put a new tyre in towards the end and put the bike at second position. I am feeling really confident with what we have achieved so far. We still have a bit more to go and we’ll have to concentrate on doing some race runs tomorrow.”

John Hopkins, 1’32.007s:
“This morning it was all about losing up my hip and getting a good feeling with the bike again. I really enjoy riding the Donington track. The most important thing for me today was getting the feeling with the tyres and the bike again. I took it easy in the wet, but the lap times were still pretty good and pretty consistent. As soon as the track dried out, I stayed out and did over half a race distance. My last lap was my fastest lap, but I got hold up by Rea, otherwise I would have been even faster. But we are in the top 20 today and that’s the most important thing. We know that we can run a consistent pace on used tyres, that is one step forward for us. We’ll just have to see what the weather holds tomorrow.

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“It was a very good day here. Leon has gone as fast as we expected. He has found his way quickly and is not far off his ideal race setting. We still have a few things to improve and to test, but I am confident we can work on that tomorrow. I am very pleased with John’s results. He has shown he is capable of being up there and is felling much better. The whole team is happy with this, John can finally show what he is capable of and push himself forward. We still have some things we will have to work on tomorrow, but right now it looks quite promising.”

Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea continued their familiarisation with new Ohlins suspension at Donington Park today as they prepared for Sunday’s two ninth-round World Superbike championship races.

As Michel Fabrizio took provisional pole position, Checa was ninth fastest today as changeable weather conditions put any extended dry track time at a premium. Once again, times were close, and the Spaniard finished today’s opening qualifying session just three tenths of a second off a provisional front row start.

Fresh from winning the last World Superbike race at Misano in Italy, Rea opened today’s free practice with an awkward crash at the slow Melbourne hairpin. The 22-year-old lost valuable track time and, with rain dominating this afternoon’s qualifying session, could only qualify in provisional 15th place.

Carlos Checa – P9, 1’31.736s

It was not really very good today but, this afternoon, when the track began to dry a little, we made some improvements from this morning. Of course, we are still finding many new areas to improve the Ohlins suspension but we are not quite in a good position for this circuit. We are losing time in the first two sections, where it is quite difficult to hold a line at high speed. It’s also difficult to control the power coming out of the slower corners, where there is not enough rear grip. I believe we can make some more steps forward tomorrow, however, to get closer to a better lap time.

Jonathan Rea – P15, 1’32.103s

It’s been a really tough day, actually. Because of the crash in this morning’s session, we were left with not a lot of track time and we realised pretty quickly that the settings from Misano certainly had not translated well to Donington. Then the second session started wet, which put us back a bit, although it started to dry with 25 minutes left. We made a big change this afternoon which just did not work, so at least we know which way we’re NOT going tomorrow!

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

We were realistic coming here and, as we are all aware, finding the correct settings for the new suspension will be quite hard for the first couple of races until we have a lot more data. In the wet and intermediate conditions, everything was working quite well but, in the dry, it is quite clear that we still have some way to go. We just hope for a lot more dry track time tomorrow to progress with finding the right setting.

Ryuichi Kiyonari faces a tough day at the ninth round World Superbike championship event at Donington Park tomorrow as he seeks to improve on the provisional 23rd fastest time he set at the 4.023km circuit in this afternoon’s opening qualifying session.

In wet conditions last year, the Japanese ace dominated qualifying and won the second race on his Honda CBR1000RR but Kiyonari acknowledges that he needs more time to adjust to new suspension components he is testing this weekend.

Italian Michel Fabrizio set the fastest time in this afternoon’s hour-long session but Kiyonari is confident of further improvement in tomorrow’s qualifying and free practice sessions, followed by Superpole to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s two 23-lap encounters.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P23, 1’33.093s

It was very difficult for me today. We tried the new suspension parts but did not really get enough dry track time to set up the bike for a good qualifying time. There are some good points with the revised package, but the main problem is me – sometimes I take a long time to get used to new things. Tomorrow will give me more time, I hope, to improve everything.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

We still have some way to go until Kiyonari-san is comfortable with new components and finds a setting in which he feels confident enough push in the way he did here last year, when he won in spectacular style. We need some more dry time tomorrow to help him find that setting and we know he can be very fast here when he is happy with everything.

Merlin full movie