A disorganised start to the World Superbike event at Imola today, as riders faced difficult track conditions in the first free practice session. The Superbike riders, Ducati Xerox men Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio included, were the first to exit onto the track this weekend but, after only a couple of laps and a crash for Yamaha’s Tom Sykes, it became clear that it was necessary to reclean certain parts of the track, left slippery after last weekend’s touring car event.
Free practice was therefore postponed while the track was washed during the afternoon and rescheduled for 17.45. Both Noriyuki and Michel exited immediately and times dropped consistently throughout the sixty-minute session. Having come into the box a few times to make minor modifications to his bike, Michel was then able to make a flying lap only a few minutes before the end of the hour, and thus recorded the fastest time of the day. Fabrizio, the most consistently fast rider during the official tests at Imola two months ago, was the only rider to duck under 1m50 today.
Noriyuki, having not taken part in earlier testing and not having ridden here since 2006, didn’t immediately find feeling with the track, and found he needed more time to learn the trickier sections, particularly the new chicane. Haga closed the day in thirteenth position.
Due to the lengthy delays earlier in the day, today’s qualifying session was cancelled and qualifying will therefore consist of one session only, to take place tomorrow morning.
Michel Fabrizio 1m49.8s
“I’m very happy to have made the fastest lap but it was not easy. The track is still very slippery and although I’m fairly comfortable with the front of the bike I was having trouble with lack of grip at the rear. Hopefully track conditions will improve over the weekend. My left arm was also giving me pain during the session so I’ll get that looked at this evening in order to be 100% ready for tomorrow.”
Noriyuki Haga 1m51.1s
“I didn’t test here in July of course and so I’m a bit behind with respect to the other guys. I think I just a little more time to learn the track, specifically the last chicane, and we need to find a better solution for the suspension settings.”