News 29 Jun 2009

WSBK: Haslam shines as top Honda at home round in UK

Honda Racing:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey trailer

A second place finish in the second race of the day for Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) was the single best Honda rider performance at Donington, in a day when the championship fight became a closer contest at the top and in the middle of the championship table.

Ben Spies won the first race from pole, with Max Biaggi and Noriyuki Haga behind, but a fight through from a third row start of ninth saw Haslam finish fourth at his first home race.
Better was to come in race two, as Haslam capitalised on the early opportunity to chase Spies, and he resisted strong pressure from the fast group in close attendance over the final laps. Four riders all finished within 1.5 seconds of second place.

Spies won the second race by a clear margin once again, but Championship leader Noriyuki Haga crashed out at Coppice, and was taken to hospital in Derby with vertebrae, scapula and right wrist injures.

In the championship fight Haga now has 308, Spies 294 and Fabrizio 257. Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) has 177 points, Haslam 167.

Rea, who qualified 12th in Superpole, found his set-up less able to handle the slower corners at Donington, and thus he was a fighting seventh in race one, but fell at Goddards in the second race, remounting to finish 15th.

After being unable to race at Misano last weekend, John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) got through practice in 11th place in Superpole, then rode to an impressive eighth in race one, before pain and lack of movement from his injured hip caused him to withdraw from race two.

Former British Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was off the podium in his return to his old adopted home, going tenth in the opener, and finishing seventh in race two, 15 seconds behind the winner. He had been only 20th in qualifying, making his two races tales of rapid recovery.

Spaniard Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was a second row qualifier, but was one of a whole raft of crashers in race two, only scoring a 11th place finish in race one.

Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) made good progress in only his second ever WSB meeting, just missing points in race one by one place, but posting 12th in race two. He had only been 24th on the starting grid.

Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Honda CBR1000RR) failed to finish either race, and was only 31st fastest in qualifying.


Sofuoglu Fourth As Strong Laverty Recover Keeps Him In The Running

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) replicated his fourth place qualifying result in today’s 22-lap World Supersport race and in doing so kept himself third in the championship fight.

The Turkish rider headed up a quartet of fast Honda riders at Donington, the first of which was second place qualifier Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR).

Laverty’s race was an incredibly dramatic affair, as he fell from third position on lap three, kept his machine running and restarted, in 26th place. His main championship rival Cal Crutchlow was soon leading a race he would eventually win.  Laverty’s incredible ride through the pack to fifth puts him 28 points behind Crutchlow, with five rounds still remaining.

Barry Veneman took his Honda to sixth, just ahead of a resurgent Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) who qualified only 22nd but rode with supreme confidence to take seventh, after some radical changes to his machine in morning warm-up. It was his best finish of the year.

Another tough raceday for 2008 champion Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) saw him start from 15th on the grid and finish tenth, experiencing problems with his machine backing into corners.

Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) retired after qualifying 13th, crashing on lap nine.  Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) also crashed out of contention, while pushing for a top six finish.

A promising weekend for Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) was ended prematurely when he clashed with Katsuaki Fujiwara on lap four. He had been fifth in qualifying and fifth in the race when his crash put him out. Flavio Gentile (Althea Honda CBR600RR) was 17th in his second race for his team.

After the Donington weekend there is an official test at Imola for WSS and WSB riders, at Imola on 15 and 16 July, then the next round is at Brno, Czech Republic, between 24 and 26 July.


Jonathan Rea: “In the first race we lost five seconds to the Haslam and Byrne battle at the start and at the end of the race we were five seconds behind. I needed to be more aggressive in the second race start and it worked out; I was fifth or sixth. Then I lost the front, and looking at the telemetry I had arrived at the corner literally only a couple of kmph faster than before. We struggled in that slow sector of the racetrack all weekend.”

Leon Haslam: “There was a slower pace in race two and my problem in each race was chatter. In race two I got a little bit better start and learned a thing or two that we were struggling with. I was just catching Biaggi as he went down so it would have been another fight for third or fourth place in that race. But to hold off Fabrizio and Byrne and take second, after missing out in race one, I was pretty happy.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari: “The first race was very difficult after the problems we have had during the weekend, so we made some changes to the rear for race two. In fact, it was quite a big change and we altered three things with the rear shock. On the sighting lap it felt quite OK but during the race it was better but not perfect. I hope that the test at Imola will allow us to fully test these new parts to get a better setting for the bike so I can make better results for the rest of the season.”

Carlos Checa: “I was able to ride a little faster because of the changes we made after race one, but I just lost the front going into Redgate. It is a shame because the changes we made were not quite enough. I have hurt my ribs as well so I am going to get myself checked-out.”

John Hopkins: “I got off the line really good but just poked around on the first lap and was not as aggressive as I normally am. As the adrenaline kicked in I picked my way up to gain as many positions as possible. Halfway the race the pain kicked in and I struggled to move on the bike. It is a good result for the condition I was in today. Even though I was in a lot of pain today, it was the best race I have had in the last two years. I have had a lot of fun on the bike again, and that’s when you start getting faster.”

Matthieu Lagrive: “I was fighting with good riders like Lanzi, Kagayama, but I do not have the experience yet to really compete with them. I am OK, for me the team was really good, the settings were good and we know which direction to go in to have a top ride next time as well. I prefer to finish the first couple of Superbike races to make sure all is OK and when I grow in confidence I will try to push more.”

WSS Rider Comments

Eugene Laverty: “My rear wheel spun up, came round and I slid off. This was a problem we found yesterday in practice and thought we had cured it but the temperatures are different today and that might have made the difference. I got back on and gave it my all to get back in the points from 26th. There were a lot of yellow flags and after passing people I had to let them go through again before taking the position back, which made it tough. I am now 28-points behind Cal in the Championship but that’s a lot better than recording a DNF. Donington Park hasn’t been kind to us but it could have been a lot worse.”

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I am really disappointed and we had so many different problems. No grip in the exit, no grip in the entry, feels like from the back, and we had some electronics problems as well. It is not normal what we are doing now. I see how other riders can open the throttle exiting corners and I cannot believe how they do it.”

Andrew Pitt: “Things are not working at the moment, as we’re backing into corners and chattering. We didn’t have chatter problems in practice and we had really bad chatter in the race so something was not right. Every time I ran into a turn we missed it. It was really hard work to hang onto that and only finish tenth.”

Anthony West: “On the first lap I almost highsided coming out of the chicane, and landed back on the seat. A few went past me and I got past them again then started to catch Aitchison and Fujiwara. I wasn’t pushing too hard but going into the hairpin I lost the front. We have been running higher pressure on the front tyre and it has been working but as the track temperature went up I think it got too hot. We need the next test in Imola.”

Mark Aitchison: “I almost ran into Eugene’s bike when he fell and I lost some time. Because I had lost some ground I tried to bridge it back and then at the Old Hairpin Fujiwara hit me and that was that. It’s frustrating because we could have been in a good position today.”

Gianluca Vizziello: “We had a lot of problems in the team for set-up this weekend but we made a big change in morning warm-up and big change in results. Good work, great job from the guys and I really had confidence to ride like I wanted. My best position this year so for Brno a top five and Imola a podium!”

Miguel Praia: “I lost the front of my bike going into Redgate corner. It is frustrating as I had just got into 11th and was pushing hard to get to the group in front that was fighting for sixth. I needed to go for the better result, I felt confident and my Parkalgar Honda was excellent.
It is a shame but we will learn from this and be stronger at the next round.”

Flavio Gentile: “We solved quite all the problems we have had during the qualifying and so my race was better than we can image. I had quite a good start and my pace was consistent. I think seventeenth was the best I could do, due to my bad position on the starting grid. I want to thank all the technicians in my team for the great job.”