News 28 Jun 2009

WSBK: Checa top Honda in seventh on Donington Park grid

Ten Kate/Stiggy Racing Honda: Exorcist: The Beginning rip

Carlos Checa will start from the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s two ninth-round World Superbike championship races at Donington Park after setting the seventh fastest time in this afternoon’s final Superpole shoot-out.

It is the sixth time this season that the Spanish Hannspree Ten Kate Honda has qualified in the same position as the race number that adorns his CBR1000RR machine.

Pole position was taken by Ben Spies as Checa’s team-mate, Jonathan Rea, was only able to qualify in 12th place for a third row start, in spite of running in the top six during today’s second qualifying and free practice sessions.

Carlos Checa – P7, 1’31.342s (Superpole)

As soon as the rain started to fall at the end of the final Superpole session, I rolled off a little, but also, when I hooked sixth gear down the back straight, the bike jumped back into fifth, so the lap would not have been better. It’s a difficult track to come to with a new suspension package – especially since we have not enjoyed fully dry sessions. We have made some improvements though, and we will try to fine tune things in the morning, but we won’t make such a big change I think. Second row is not such a bad place to start and I did some consistent laps today, so I think quite a good pace is possible.

Jonathan Rea – P12, 1’30.782s (Qualifying 2)

Sector three was my problem this afternoon. Last week, the circuit flowed and we never really got to the bottom of the stroke, but here we are struggling with the rear coming round on corner entry and I’m having to wait longer than I’d like to get on the throttle. As a consequence, I’m having to over-ride the bike and in that last sector I’m really on the limit and sometimes over it. That’s going to be difficult to maintain for 23 laps tomorrow. We found a little something today, so all is not lost – although we’re leaving it a little late to find the full solution. The third row is not what I expected here but, with a couple of good starts tomorrow, we can hopefully fight near the front.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

We started the weekend here quite a long way off a perfect set-up for Donington, but we have made quite a big jump forward today. I don’t think Johnny’s Superpole result really reflects the speed he showed at times on track today and he was a little unlucky. Carlos is in his favourite position – again. It’s now becoming a little scary, the times he is qualifying in seventh place! We’ll all work hard through tonight to try and find another step forward; but a dry warm-up tomorrow morning is crucial for us to have some good results from the races.

Ten Kate Honda Racing’s Ryuichi Kiyonari qualified in 20th position after today’s Superpole sessions at Donington Park in preparation for tomorrow’s two 23-lap races of the ninth round of the 2009 World Superbike championship.

The Japanese ace, who won race two at Donington last September, made it through to Superpole after struggling in the two free practice and qualifying sessions. However, the Honda Accessories-backed rider was unable to progress beyond Superpole1 and qualifies on the fifth row of the grid for tomorrow’s two 23-lap races around the 4.023km circuit.

Pole position was taken by American Ben Spies, and Kiyonari hopes to find a better setting in tomorrow morning’s warm-up and is aiming for two good starts in the races to give him a chance of a good result.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P20, 1’31.260s

To be honest, I’m not really sure what the problem is. I’m lacking confidence in the package at the moment and maybe I’m just trying too hard to think about a solution. I know very well what potential the Honda CBR1000RR has so maybe I have to learn to ride around the problems I am having. We have changed many things to find a better feeling and I hope for a dry warm-up tomorrow to find something new.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

It’s a shame that Kiyo has struggled so much here this weekend because everyone enjoyed the show that he put on last September when he won in great style. Unfortunately, one or two things are not quite right for him but, as ever, we will strive to put them right and see what he can do in the races tomorrow.

The Stiggy Racing Honda pairing of Leon Haslam and John Hopkins will start tomorrow’s two 23-lap Superbike races for the ninth round of the World Superbike championship from a third row on the grid.

Leon Haslam opened the first day of provisional qualifying second fastest in his chase to secure a front row start for his home race at the 4.023km Donington Park.

Both Hopkins and Haslam graduated through the first 12-minute superpole shootout and finished in eighth and tenth position respectively. Leon Haslam only fell 0.003s short of reaching the third superpole, following a flying lap posted by Carlos Checa in the ultimates minutes of the second shootout and will now start tomorrow’s race – led by pole sitter Ben Spies – from a ninth place on the grid.

John Hopkins is still recovering from his injuries sustained in his horrific crash at Assen, but the American has shown true grit and determination in the qualifying sessions at Donington today. He squeezed out a fastest lap of 1’30.272 while out on a qualifier in the second shootout and put himself on the 11th place on the third row of the grid.

Leon Haslam, P9 – 1’30.159s:
“I have been struggling a little bit this afternoon. We tried a few things with the electronics, but we went the wrong way with it and ended up back to where it was initially. I am pretty happy with my lap times, it is just a little bit unfortunate I didn’t make it through to the last superpole. The times were all pretty close and just 0.1s faster would have put me in third place. I am ninth on the third row on the grid with some of the other British riders, and am looking forward to the start of the race and hopefully we can have a good one tomorrow.”

John Hopkins, P11 – 1’30.272s:
“I have a little bit of pain in my left hip, but it is a lot better than last week in Misano. I would like to say that we have changed a lot to the bike, but we haven’t changed anything from the second we went out on Friday. It says a lot about the crew that we have found a good set-up for the machine. There are a couple of things we need to work on now I am starting to push a little harder. This is the best I could do today. I gave it my all and I am pretty happy to be in tenth position. It will be a long race, but I am normally a good starter and am looking forward to having a bit of a fight tomorrow.”

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“It is good to see both riders qualify for Superpole. We are ninth and 11th, which is fine. I think Leon expected a little more to be honest, and was maybe hoping to get into the top three, but it didn’t work out today and the margins are just so small. It looks like we have found a good race set up for both riders and they can both be pretty strong in the race. John has put in a fantastic job. It is unbelievable, he is still far away from being fit and has a lot of pain, but he just pushed hard and has shown he is a class act rider. We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow, but I am confident we can have a good race with both riders.”

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