The tenth round of the World Superbike Championship got underway today at the Czech circuit of Brno and Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio immediately got to business, concluding first qualifying in second place.
Last week Michel participated in the official Infront Motor Sports test session at Imola and was the most consistently fast of the Superbike riders. He vowed, at the conclusion of those tests, to do all he can to replicate his performance there during each of the remaining race weekends, and in today’s early afternoon practice session Michel got straight down to the task in hand. Immediately one of the fastest, Michel concluded the hour-long circuit in third place, on the Brno track that he cites as perhaps his favourite of all the international Superbike circuits.
Team-mate Noriyuki, working to improve traction and feeling with the front of his Ducati 1198, finished eighteenth. Having not ridden since the crash at Donington Park nearly a month ago, which left him with fractures to his right ulna and left scapula, Nitro-Nori got back in the hot seat today and, perhaps not surprisingly, suffered from severe muscle ache in his left upper-arm. The team’s physiotherapist Leigh “Rok” Bryan commented that a certain degree of muscle ache is to be expected as Haga has not been able to use the left arm and shoulder to any great degree in the last few weeks.
In the afternoon qualifying session Noriyuki’s physical condition evidently slowed his progress, as the discomfort caused by his scapula meant that he was tiring easily and having difficulty braking. Despite not having any real issues with his 1198, it was this injury that hindered the rider and Haga concluded today’s proceedings in fifteenth place. Michel meanwhile made steady progress and was at the top of the timesheets for almost the entire session before fellow Roman Max Biaggi made a flying lap in the final minute, recording a fastest time less than a tenth of a second quicker than Michel. Times were very close this afternoon and it is worth noting that, Nori’s best time was less than a second off Michel’s pace.
Michel Fabrizio 2m00.0s
“I’ve made a good start. Max just beat me to the fastest time in the last minute but we expected him to be going well having testing here recently. I’m feeling fairly confident with the set-up of the bike and the tyres for Sunday will be the same that we used here last year I think so we’re sorted there. It should be a good race day as we’ve seen a variety of riders going strong in today’s two sessions; the more, the merrier I say!”
Noriyuki Haga 2m01.0s
“I have been gritting my teeth today to be honest. It’s the first time I’ve fractured my scapula and I hope to never do it again. It’s very painful, mainly when braking and so I’m losing time through every corner as it’s hard work changing direction. Having said that, this is without any painkillers so maybe I’ll think about taking some for the races. There are no real problems with the bike, just with the rider. Tomorrow we’ll see what we can do to modify the bike in order to facilitate braking.”