News 25 Jul 2009

WSBK: Checa top Honda with provisional third on Brno grid


Carlos Checa earned himself a provisional front row start for Sunday’s 10th round World Superbike championship races at Brno by setting the third fastest time in this afternoon’s opening qualifying session.

The Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider lapped the 5.4km Czech circuit in a time of 2’00.205s, just two tenths off the time of provisional pole setter, Max Biaggi.

Checa’s team-mate, Jonathan Rea, was 13th fastest today as he rode his Honda CBR1000RR Superbike for the first time at the undulating Brno circuit – the scene of his maiden World Supersport championship win a year ago.

Carlos Checa – P3, 2’00.205s

Today we have been constantly on the pace near the front. We carried our setting from last week’s Imola test over here to Brno and started pretty much with that this morning. We changed a few things to fine tune the setting but, as a team, we have been quite clear about the direction we need to go in. As long as there is no rain tomorrow, I think we can keep moving forward. We need to work a little bit on finding some more front grip in the first sector but our minds are clear and we are in a good position.

Jonathan Rea – P13, 2’01.023s

The bike is actually working quite well at the moment and we’ve just changed a couple of things after last week’s test at Imola – I’m just not sure what I’m looking for from the bike. But I was in a similar position last year with the Supersport team and we managed to sort things overnight. We need to do that again here, so we’ll sit down later to look at what needs improving. I can’t see the front guys going that much quicker, so it’ll be down to me getting a bit closer to the limit, which we’re not near yet.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

We seem to be quite close to the bull’s-eye with Carlos today. We are not that far off, even though, of course, there is still some work to do. We’re a little puzzled by Johnny’s struggles – he seems to be having problems getting into a good rhythm with the track Hopefully a good night’s sleep will sort it as it’s a little like the position he was in last year in Supersport. I think the Friday sessions then could best be described as a waste of fuel! But he made a big step forward on Saturday to win his first World Supersport race on the Sunday. Hopefully, this is just the way he does things at Brno.

Ryuichi Kiyonari set the 19th fastest time in this afternoon’s opening qualifying session for Sunday’s two 10th round World Superbike championship races at Brno in the Czech Republic.

The Japanese Ten Kate Honda Racing rider was sixth fastest after the morning’s opening free practice session at the 5.4km circuit outside the Czech Republic’s second city. However, a problem with his number one machine just before the afternoon qualifying session commenced left Kiyonari with only his number two Honda CBR1000RR on which to make progress.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P19, 2’01.439s

We had a different setting on the spare machine and, although the feeling was nearly the same, it was different enough to make things a bit more difficult. The setting didn’t really work and we are still quite early in the relationship with Ohlins so it was difficult to know which way to go. But with the test at Imola last week, and today, we are learning more about the new parts each time we go out. I used a similar setting to Imola for this morning’s session and that went OK, so I’m confident that we will go forward again tomorrow and close that small gap to the front.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

Kiyo-san had a good free practice session this morning, but a problem with his number one bike just before the afternoon session made things difficult. He jumped on his spare machine which was set up a little differently and it didn’t really work out. We’ll try some more tomorrow and I’m sure we can help Kiyo to improve his position.

Stiggy Racing Honda rider John Hopkins was on fine form in the first day of qualifying for the tenth round of the World Superbike Championship and posted the second fastest time in the opening Free Practice at Brno today.
The American 13;who missed out 8 races due to an injury 13;concluded a two-day test with his teammate Leon Haslam at the Czech track two weeks ago and used the collected data to clock the second fastest time of 2’01.399s.

Hopkins took another 0.4s off his earlier result in the first qualifying practice, but crashed out after a tyre change in the ultimate minutes of the session while pushing for his fastest lap.

Haslam struggled to find the right suspension set-up for his machine in the first session, but opened things up in the 60-minute qualifying practice. The Englishman 13;who claimed a podium in the last event at Donington 13;closed the first day of qualifying in 18th place.

John Hopkins – 2’01.021s:
“In the first session I was struggling a lot with the chattering of the bike. Right at the end we tried something different and then made a big improvement on the set-up and were able to go almost two-seconds quicker as I was able to run it through the corners better and hold the corner speed. We tried a new tyre towards the end of the qualifying session, but as I was trying to set a decent lap time I lost the front in one of the slower corners and had a small crash.”

Leon Haslam – 2’01.403s:
“I made some progress from this morning. I really struggled in the free practice session, we had a problem with one bike and the other bike was not set up the right way for the conditions at this circuit. We made some progress on the set-up and I have been able to ride at a pretty consistent pace, but we still need to find another second tomorrow and improve the lap times.”

Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager:
“John started off really well today and immediately felt comfortable on the bike. We tried some different settings on both bikes and made progress through both sessions. John had a small crash this afternoon on his fastest lap, but he is very confident on his potential and to further improve tomorrow. Leon is working hard on finding his set-up on this track. We tested here a couple of weeks ago, but we still need to utilise the test settings. We will analyse the data tonight to see where we can make the improvements. It is a suspension problem more than anything else, and we will just have to work out how to solve it.”