Day two at Imola saw a much improved track surface allowing Yamaha World superbike rider Ben Spies to get down to business and back to his blistering pace. The qualifying session saw him displaying fast consistent laps, moving quickly to the top of the board with a 1.49.8 by midway through the session. As it drew to a close he improved again, laying down a 1.49.09 to take third at the end.
Superpole started with Spies on a race tyre, still laying down a 148.8 to take the second spot going into heat two. The qualifiers came out for the second round, where Spies shaved 0.6 seconds off his time, dropping to 1.48.2 and a pass through to the final round. As the heat drew to a close Spies put in an incredible last lap, and despite coming off the racing line for the last two corners still managing a 1.49.096, which was just beaten by Fabrizio in the last seconds by a mere 0.007 seconds. Spies will start tomorrow’s races from the front row in second position, ahead of championship rival Haga.
Spies’ team mate Tom Sykes had a more difficult day. The British rider worked hard in qualifying despite being still very sore from his big high side the day before. By mid-session he had managed to secure 13th on the board, then dropping to 16th at the end of the session. Sykes continued to struggle with the set up of the bike through the Superpole heats, making it through the first session with a 1’49.5 in 15th place. The second session saw him again working hard but he was unable to improve on his time and takes a 16th place grid position for Sunday’s races.
Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team (2nd, 1’47.778)
“Qualifying was ok for us today, we tried some different tyres to yesterday and brought the times down a bit. The track definitely has more grip on it now so it’s getting better and better for Sunday. It was a good Superpole session although I kind of blew it on the last section of my last flying lap and it cost us. We’re on the front row and that’s where we need to be so I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough couple of races with a lot of guys up there so we’re going to be banging around and having some fun which is what it’s all about.”
Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team (16th, 1’49.681)
“Qualifying really didn’t go to plan for me today. I have a big problem with the rear tyre. I’m struggling to keep the back steady to get the power on. I need to have a talk with the boys in the garage tonight and see if we can find a solution for warm up tomorrow morning. I’m still very sore from yesterday so it wasn’t that fun on the bike but we tried as hard as possible.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“It’s definitely a good result at the end of the session. We made some improvements on the bike and tomorrow we are ready to be the main protagonist. Tom is quite sore from his big crash yesterday, but he showed us that he wasn’t going to give up and he gave us 100%, he had a great attitude. Tomorrow it will be a very tough race, there will be four or five riders up there fighting for the front.”
Despite two crashes this weekend Yamaha World Supersport rider Cal Crutchlow continued to show the devastating pace that has taken him to the top of the championship standings. A bad tyre choice in today’s qualifying resulted in a small crash, however the unhurt Crutchlow was able to rejoin and get back on the pace with a change of rubber. He spent the duration of the session as the fastest rider, dropping to second towards the end of the as Sofuoglu laid down a fast 1’51.2 lap. As the seconds ticked to end the qualifying Crutchlow sent a clear message with his Yamaha R6, putting down a supersonic final lap of 1’50.6 to take his ninth pole of the season, over half a second clear of second placed Sofuoglu and two seconds clear of championship rival Eugene Laverty, starting from the second row in seventh.
Crutchlow’s team mate Fabien Foret improved on his set up from yesterday’s session, putting in consistently fast race pace laps to end in eighth position and earning a second row grid start for tomorrow’s Supersport race.
Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha World Supersport Team (1st, 1’50.680)
“It’s been not the best day, two crashes in one day isn’t great, however I think we’ve got the pace to win and I think we actually don’t need to go as fast as we thought we did to win the race. We’ll see tomorrow. I’m not worried about winning by a massive margin tomorrow as there’s no point, we don’t need to. I crashed twice with a new tyre we were trying today so we won’t be using that one again. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race, hopefully we can keep winning.”
Fabien Foret, Yamaha World Supersport Team (8th, 1’52.789)
“Today was better for me than yesterday. I’m still not completely happy with the feel of the bike, the set up we found at the test is not working so well now the track is different. It’s frustrating to be on the second row again as I will have to fight my way through the pack to get to the front. I think from today I know I have a good race pace so I should be able to fight for a podium if I get a good start.”
Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport Team Manager
“The grip was a lot better today than yesterday but still the bike doesn’t feel the same as it did when we tested here. First row for Cal and second row for Fabien is not a bad position to start tomorrow. I think for Fabien he’s a real Sunday man and he’ll improve tomorrow and fight for the front. It’s a pity Cal fell off twice today but his last lap showed he’s got the speed and wasn’t scared by the crashes, he knew exactly what went wrong. To do a last lap like that was pretty impressive, add to that his main competitor is nearly two seconds behind means we can look forward to tomorrow’s race.”