News 27 Sep 2009

WSBK: Rea third in Superpole for Honda at Imola, Haslam 10th

Jonathan Rea will start from the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s two 12th round World Superbike championship races at Imola in Italy after setting the third fastest time in today’s Superpole sessions.

Fastest after free practice this afternoon, the Northern Irishman set the pace in the first Superpole session but was edged off his maiden pole position by local rider, Michel Fabrizio, who was just a tenth of a second faster.

Rea and Fabrizio were split by championship leader, Ben Spies, with his closest challenger, Noryuki Haga, five hundredths of a second behind Rea, leaving 0.150s covering the front row.

Rea’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate Carlos Checa had looked threatening in the opening qualifying session and went sixth fastest in free practice just before Superpole. However, the Spaniard was unable to improve and slipped to thirteenth place on the grid for tomorrow’s two 21-lap races at the historic 4.93km Imola circuit.

Jonathan Rea – P3, 1’47.834s

I didn’t really use the qualifier to its best effect in the first couple of laps and I wanted to go out and try again but fell short a little bit. The pace out there was fast today and, when I wanted to have another go, there just wasn’t enough tyre left. But we’ve got a good race setup for tomorrow and the guys have done a marvellous job. We’ve had so many new things to try and every week the package gets better and better. So, a big thanks to them, well done to Michel and Ben and I’m sure the racing will be pretty good tomorrow.

Carlos Checa – P13, 1’49.168s

I was in top ten, top five in all the practices but on my first pit exit on the qualifying tyre I made a few mistakes. When we put the second qualifier on we had some problems with the electronics cutting the power and I couldn’t find that last 0.5s that would have carried us forward. We’ll try something more in warm-up tomorrow but I need two good starts in the race because that’s another story to qualifying. It’s not an easy place to pass here, but if we can improve the pace a little, I think we can do something.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

I will admit we were hoping for a bit more than the qualifying results that we got. We’ve seen all our riders in the top ten on race tyres, with Jonathan quickest in free practice just before Superpole. However, he’s still on the front row so that’s not a worry. It’ll be tough for Carlos, even though his speed on race tyres is a lot better than his Superpole result. He’ll have to be quite committed in the opening couple of laps to try and reach the top five or six riders. By the looks of things, it’s going to be another exciting race day tomorrow.

Ryuichi Kiyonari made significant improvements to the setting on his Ten Kate Honda Racing CBR1000RR today but was unable to achieve a result that reflected this in this afternoon’s Superpole qualifying sessions for tomorrow’s two 12th round World Superbike championship races at Imola in Italy.

The Japanese rider struggled in yesterday’s only practice session but, in regulation qualifying this morning and, again, during free practice this afternoon at Imola, he ran comfortably in the top ten.

Kiyonari qualified for Superpole but was eliminated after the opening round with the 14th fastest time. He will therefore line up on the fourth row of the grid for the two 21-lap races around the 4.93km Imola circuit.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P14, 1’49.340s

It’s a shame that we could not make the best of the improved feeling we had today. The bike has been improving ever since the warm-up at Nurburgring and the improvement continued today in every area. However, I had the same feeling on new race tyres as I did on old ones, and no change on the qualifying tyres, so I was unable to improve my lap time. We need to try and find something extra tomorrow morning in warm-up but, at the moment, the race pace feels OK. I will try my best for two good results, but it will be very difficult tomorrow.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

The Superpole result does not really reflect the work that Kiyo-san’s team has put in to improving the feel of his bike. He showed in the earlier sessions today that the package had made a good step forward but we could not turn that into a good grid position. It means he will have to be quite committed in the early laps to stay in touch with the leading riders but, if he can do this, I am sure he can get close to their race pace.

With more rubber down on the circuit as a result of yesterday’s two 60-minutes sessions, track conditions had slightly improved this morning and Stiggy Racing Honda´s sole Superbike rider Leon Haslam was well on the pace in the weekends first and final qualifying session setting the 11th fastest lap-time.
Confident for the Superpole sessions he could keep the pace, Leon opted to use one of his two qualifying tyres in the very last lap of the first shoot-out to firmly take third slot. Second time out Haslam continued to make progress on his Honda CBR1000RR cutting further on his previous best laptime. Comfortable in eight place with just seconds remaining, Leon got beaten just missing out of the third and final Superpole session, finishing in 10th place and will start tomorrow´s races from the third row on the grid.

Today´s pole sitter is Italian Michel Fabrizio with a best time of 1’47.735s.

The second day at Imola in Italy today proved to be a hard nut to crack for Stiggy Racing Honda Supersport rider Anthony West. Yesterday´s opening session looked promising for the Australian setting ninth fastest time in free practice and 13th place in the morning´s free session, but for the afternoons final qualifying the Australian rider struggled to find enough confidence in his machine and qualified 15th on the grid. Anthony will start tomorrow’s 19 lap supersport race from a fourth row on the grid.

The Italian action will start tomorrow at 13:25 CET Supersport (19 lap race) and Superbike race 1 at 12:00 CET (21 lap race) race 2 at 14:30 CET.

Leon Haslam -Superbikes – P10 – 1’48.992s:
1C;I messed up on the first split on my first flying lap in that second Superpole. I got the next lap in and felt pretty good but messed up just a little bit in the last split. I missed out on a top eight by less than a tenth so it was a little disappointing we didn 19;t get to the last Superpole. We still have things to improve on so we can get a little more consistent. I know we can do the same pace as everyone else does on race tyres, so I am pretty happy with that. 1D;

Anthony West – Supersport – P15 – 1’53.553s:
“It was a hard day today and I’m obviously a bit disappointed as we didn’t find the settings to make me feel comfortable on the bike. Thats what we’ve been up against all year now and its pretty frustrating. Yesterday was not too bad, and today we succeeded to improve the bike compare to when we were here last testing but laptimes were pretty much the same. A 15th place is far from good but I´ll try to make it up in the race to bring home some good results for myself the crew and Stiggy as I think we all need it at the moment.”

Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager:
“I’m quite satisfied with today, Leon made good qualifying and Superpole sessions but we still need to work on his chassis settings as he is still losing a bit too much in some sectors of the track. If we managed to cure that for tomorrow I´m confident, if he makes a good start, he can reach top five results in both races. Anthony on the other hand had trust issues today, lacking in confidence didn’t allow him to find the optimum settings and laptimes as hoping for. It’s hard starting form a 15th on the grid but he has done it before, he is a strong racer and once he puts his head down anything is possible.”