Below are the press releases received after qualifying at Phillip Island:
Phillip Island – Qualifying Practice 2 & Superpole.
After a tough start to the first race weekend of the 2011 season, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport is happy with today's Superpole Qualifying result. Both riders, Leon Haslam (GBR) and Troy Corser (AUS), made it into the third and final qualifying session, with Leon starting tomorrow's races from fourth and Troy seventh.
Leon Haslam: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:32.023 min (P7) / Fastest lap FP: 1:32.184 min (P4) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:31.429 min (P4)
"This is a great result. If someone had offered me a front row start two weeks ago I would have been over the moon, so certainly we are all really happy. The team has pulled together and worked hard to overcome the issues we have had so far this weekend, and the end result has come at the right time. We have made good progress, but I still have a few areas I want to work on tomorrow before the races. Still as a team we are confident we have the pace to do well in the races tomorrow. Everybody in the team has worked very hard, so thanks to all the guys."
Troy Corser: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:32.520 min (P15) / Fastest lap FP: 1:32.820 min (P7) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:32.182 min (P7)
"We struggled at the start of the weekend with the set-up, but since then we have all worked really hard to make positive steps forward. Leon and I were having the same issues, but collectively we found a solution and we both showed clear signs of improvement. In the last session I didn't have a new qualifying tyre to go out on, so I had to settle for a used one, but I cannot complain. Our race pace looks pretty good on paper, but a lot depends on the temperatures around here. On the whole I think we can all look forward to tomorrow."
Rainer Bäumel (Head of Race Operations):
"The entire team has worked very hard over the course of the last few days. Today we are satisfied, but at the same time we know it is still a long way from where we want to be. We made some alterations on the chassis side after yesterday's sessions, and the grip level was higher today, which helped us a lot. Both Leon and Troy made it onto the front two rows, which makes us happy."
Superpole Success Sees Second Row Start for Laverty and Melandri at Phillip Island
Yamaha World Superbike Team riders Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri experienced their first ever Superpole shoot-out this afternoon at the Phillip Island International circuit in Australia. The adrenalin fuelled short ‘qualifying heats' quickly sort the fastest riders from the pack to decide the grid line up for Sunday's two World Superbike races, the first of the 2011 season.
Laverty continued to display the consistent form fans have seen since he first jumped on the Yamaha R1 race bike, flying through the first, second and third Superpole heats in fifth place, earning himself a second row start for his first ever World Superbike race tomorrow.
Teammate and fellow World Superbike Superpole rookie Melandri was enjoying a much better day than yesterday. The Italian rider had clearly improved his set up from the day before, although was experiencing the stickier Superpole qualifier tyres for the first time this afternoon. Melandri cleared the first session in 11th place, then hung on in the second in eighth to make it through to the final session. Having used all his qualifiers in the first two sessions he couldn't improve on his time but held on for a second row start for what is also his first ever World Superbike race.
Eugene Laverty, Yamaha World Superbike Team 5th, 1'31.858
"So far so good! I've really been enjoying the weekend so far; everything seems to be running really smoothly. We're still working on our set up for race distance but for the faster laps in qualifying it seems to have worked well. Superpole was a new experience for me, the qualifying tyres require quite a different style of riding so I think I'm yet to get the best out of them. Bring on tomorrow, I'm ready and really excited about seeing what we can do, I just hope it doesn't rain!"
Marco Melandri, Yamaha World Superbike Team 8th, 1'32.662
"Yesterday was a bad day for me, today was better but still difficult! The Superpole event was new for me, so I'm happy to be on the second row at the end. I really like it, it's like having three times qualifying so it's pretty nice. It was pretty tough initially as I've never tried the qualifying tyres before, so I had no time to get used to the way they feel. I'm more confident for the races now so we will see what happens tomorrow."
Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager - Andrea Dosoli
"I'm happy considering both riders are rookies and they managed to get through to the final Superpole on their first attempt. Eugene continues to confirm what he showed in the past and more. Only two months ago Marco had a shoulder operation and even now is not 100% fit so his performance today was impressive. For our first race it's ok to start from the second row. We are still working to find the best set up for both riders as the race will be very demanding on tyres so the key point will be how to save them. We need a quick start off the line, then it's up to both Eugene and Marco to enjoy the race. It looks like it might rain tomorrow, which will obviously be difficult as we have limited wet set up knowledge here, I believe both riders, and especially Marco, can be strong in the wet so we'll see!"
Yamaha ParkinGO Team Line Up on the Second Row at Phillip Island
Yamaha ParkinGO rider Luca Scassa got down to work today with a new bike set up and quickly took steps forward to improve from the first qualifying session. The Italian moved up the provisional grid, gaining over half a second on yesterday's performance to take a well earned fifth place start on the second row for tomorrow's first World Supersport race of the 2011 season. Scassa completed a number of laps in the low 1.35's, hinting at a good race pace for tomorrow.
Scassa's teammate Chas Davies was unable to improve on yesterday's performance in the first qualifying session, the young Brit struggling to make another step but hanging in to keep a second row start on the grid in eighth for tomorrow's race. Unpredictable weather and a forecast for rain could make the opening round tomorrow an unpredictable one for all riders in the class.
TEAM ALTHEA RACING CELEBRATES ITS FIRST POLE OF THE SEASON AND A NEW TRACK RECORD AT PHILLIP ISLAND.
Phillip Island (Australia), Saturday 26th February 2011: The first Superpole of the 2011 season was a sight to behold, thanks above all to the performance of Althea Racing rider Carlos Checa. With a best time of 1m30.882, set in the final phase, the Spanish rider snatched not only pole for tomorrow's races but also set a new lap record!
In this morning's second qualifiying session, in conditions very similar to yesterday (air temperature 25°C, track 48°C), Carlos continued to dominate, even if he was unable to improve on his best time set yesterday. He nevertheless concluded the session with a fastest time of 1m31.725, good enough to put him in first place. A few of his rivals were able to lower their times by a few tenths but it was Carlos' time of yesterday that remained the fastest overall. The Spaniard therefore qualified in first position for the afternoon's Superpole.
The afternoon's final free practice session gave the Althea Racing team a final opportunity to check the set-up of both race bikes ahead of the Superpole. With a time nearly identical to that set in qualifying, Carlos also closed this session ahead of the pack.
Superpole 1 – in this first 14 minute stage, Carlos made a first exit with a soft tyre, immediately recording a lap time that remained the fastest of the session, ensuring himself of safe passage to the second session. A second exit was unnecessary.
Superpole 2 – in the second phase, Checa decided to make use of the first qualifier available to him. This was a strategy that paid off as he was able lap in 1m31.1, a time fast enough to allow him to return to the garage and await session three. He finished this phase in first place.
Superpole 3 – taking advantage of the second qualifying tyre, a determined and confident Checa powered his 1198 to set his best lap of the weekend, 1m30.882, fast enough to beat the previous lap record set by Laconi in 2009. With this extremely impressive lap time, Carlos snatched a very well deserved first pole of the year. Team Althea Racing is understandably more than satisifed with today's results.
"In the end it was a very hard-fought Superpole but we are of course happy to have closed in pole position. We knew that it would be more difficult with qualifiers which usually bring riders' times closer together. To start from the front of the grid is obviously valuable but I'm aware that I also need to make a good start to the races. Let's say that I don't trust anyone, in the sense that tomorrow will surely be a battle! We'll see tomorrow how best to manage the situation but I think Biaggi will be my main rival. I am however determined to bring home two great results."
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing
"Over these last days we have made progress in every session and we are convinced that we have a great set-up for the race. The only thing that worries us a little is the top speed of some of our opponents bikes, the Aprilia and the Yamaha for example are respectively 18km and 10km faster than us. But, as we know, races are not only won with top speed… I would like to thank the enire team that has worked so hard even in the critical moments, a tight-knit group that has facilitated work for the two new engineers Lozej and Frigerio, thanks go to them too. Thanks above all to Carlos who, by being consistently fast, has given us all further motivation. Tomorrow we're expecting two difficult races but we are ready to make the most of the opportunity, weather depending."
More to come from Bogdanka PTR Honda
JAMES ELLISON concentrated on race set-up for his Bogdanka PTR Honda today and is confident he can finish higher than his 11th place qualifying position in tomorrow's World Supersport opening race in Australia.
Ellison knows what he wants from his bike and will dial in changes for warm-up – he is expecting them to give him the pace needed to fight at the sharp end of the grid. Bogdanka PTR Honda's Pawel Szkopek is looking for a points scoring finish.
James Ellison: "I'm a bit disappointed because I didn't go as fast as I'd like to but I wasn't able to brake hard enough and it was costing me time. But we're working on it with the Ohlins guys and have a plan for tomorrow's warm-up. The good thing is I don't have a problem with my knee so I'm looking forward to a good race."
Pawel Szkopek: "We haven't done any major changes today and I was focusing on improving my riding. We've gathered a lot of data which will now allow us to choose a race setup that we will try in the warm-up. I'm hoping for a good race and if I can be more consistent, my final position should be better than the starting one."
Simon Buckmaster: "James was trying a few different things to improve his feeling but for the warm-up we'll go back to where we were yesterday. We know what to do and even though he's only 11th on the grid, his potential is much greater than that. Pawel wasn't able to improve his lap time and needs to focus on his riding and be more consistent and if he can then he has every chane of a points scoring position."
Foret just misses pole in Australia
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Fabien Foret will start tomorrow's World Supersport championship opener at Phillip Island in Australia from the front row of the grid after setting the second fastest time in today's qualifying session.
The Frenchman had been quickest in an official pre-season test earlier this week and first or second in all practice sessions, but it was Spaniard David Salom who took pole position from Foret by just two hundredths of a second.
Foret's 17-year-old team-mate, Florian Marino, also from France, was seventh fastest today to secure a second row start in tomorrow's 21-lap race at the 4.5km Phillip Island circuit.
Fabien Foret – P2, 1m34.091s
I am not so happy because everything felt great with the bike and I was comfortable but another rider got on my line on my quick lap. Unfortunately, it was Florian but it's not such a big deal – these things happen some times, I am on the front row and ready to race. To be honest, we done enough testing and practice laps around Phillip Island now and we're at the point where we are changing things for the sake of it and creating new problems. The bike is good and my pace is good so we're ready to go tomorrow.
Florian Marino – P7, 1m34.994s
I am still not happy but a little more satisfied that I can do the faster laps on my own now. I got caught in a group of slower riders when I was out to do a fast lap and made a couple of mistakes, one of which was to get in the way of my team-mate's fast lap. But, these things happen sometimes and we have made some good progress here. I will try to get a good start in the race tomorrow and will do my best for a good result.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager
The front row was our target for Fabien today and we have achieved that, even though it seemed that pole position was within his reach. Florian has done really well again and it's very impressive for him to start his first race here from the second row. He has continued to improve his time in every session and has been very methodical in his approach. Both riders are in positions for good results tomorrow so we will hope for a good start for both and then see where we are at the end of the race.
Fantastic front row for Lowes
PARKALGAR HONDA'S Sam Lowes qualified a superb third for the opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Phillip Island in Australia and is relaxed and confident ahead of the race.
Miguel Praia on the second Parkalgar Honda matched his pace from first qualifying but could not better it as he tried different settings on his bike. He qualified 14th but is sure he can improve in the race, which starts at 1330 local time on Sunday, 27th February.
Sam: "It was a real good session this morning for race times and distance. In the afternoon I wanted to see what lap time I could do. I ended up going consistently fast with a lot of laps in the mid-34s which is great. But I do need to work on my fast one-off lap for qualifying. My Parkalgar Honda got better as I went faster. I am really happy as we did a lot of work on race pace in the second free practice on a hard tyre. If I can get off the start well then I have as good as anyone race speed and will use my head and manage my tyre. I feel good."
Miguel: "I am not as fast as I expected - we tried a lot of different things on my Parkalgar Honda with more weight on the rear to find grip. It didn't happen and I was only able to match yesterday's time. I really wanted to secure the third row but the times are close. For the race it will be easier over full distance as I normally race better than qualify. I want a good start and to beat my result of ninth from last year."
Simon Buckmaster, Parkalgar Honda Team Manager: "Sam is fantastic and very consistent in the mid-34s. He has got podium potential for sure and will be in the hunt at the front of the race.
"Miguel is struggling for rear grip but the data suggests he needs to carry more speed in the fast corners to cut his lap times. We will try to give him more confidence in warm-up and expect him to finish higher than 14th in the race."
Third row for Castrol Honda's Rea
Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow's two opening races of the 2011 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island, Australia from the third row of the grid after setting the 12th fastest time in this afternoon's Superpole.
His Castrol Honda team-mate, Ruben Xaus, is one row behind Rea in 16th place after completing the first of three Superpole sessions this afternoon.
Rea had been in confident mood going into the final qualifying shakedown for Sunday's two 22-lappers around the 4.5km Phillip Island circuit and eased through Superpole 1 on race rubber.
However, the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland crashed out of Superpole 2 at the final corner whilst on a fast lap that looked set to propel him into the final eight-rider shootout to determine Sunday's grid positions.
Fortunately, Rea did not aggravate any of the injuries sustained in his 210kph (130mph) crash on Tuesday, although he did dislocate the ring finger on his left hand once more. He braved the pain, however, and put in back in place while a marshal gave him a ride back to the pits, and, with three minutes of the session remaining, Rea went out on his spare Castrol Honda CBR1000RR to complete a 1m32s lap.
Xaus had improved on his best time during this morning's second qualifying session but could not find enough stability from the rear of his bike to attack Phillip Island's faster turns. The Spaniard qualified for Superpole but was not able to progress beyond the first session.
Jonathan Rea – P12, 1m31.906s
It would probably be easier to tell you which bits don't hurt but, on a positive note, we were able to confirm that our chosen tyre works in warmer conditions. When I put my first qualifier in it was hooking up really well but I was getting stuck behind a slower rider on my fast lap and I went a little bit deep into the last turn and caught some bumps. I lost the front and went down but got back to the box with enough time go out on the other bike. To be honest, I missed my apex on turn one and that was the lap finished. Tomorrow's a new day and I'll try to take some positives out of all this. The bike's feeling good and I haven't done any further damage, which is a big bonus. It's the first round of the championship so we'll just dig deep for a couple of decent points-scoring finishes tomorrow, see where we end up and put last few days behind us.
Ruben Xaus – P16, 1m32.503s
I'm suffering from the rear jumping around at the moment and I can't seem to make the bigger tyre work that everyone else is using. I'm using the smaller tyre but when we find a setting to get more grip it seems to make the bumps problem even worse. We've tried to set up the bike completely differently to avoid the problem but then it goes to the front! I know that if we can eliminate this problem, I've got maybe six or seven tenths, which would certainly improve the position. Everything else is great – the team is working well and on slower corners the bike feels fantastic and I can match the guys at the front. It's just at the faster corners, but there are four of those here, where you are a long time on the side of the tyre, which makes it very difficult.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
The weekend started quite difficult with the injuries that Jonathan had, but we battled through the first couple of days quite well. Some bad luck hit us again when Jonathan seemed to be heading toward the first two rows, if not the front row. But an off at the last corner blew that story away. We're now preparing ourselves for the race with the aim of collecting as many points as possible. Jonathan's injuries were not aggravated any further today but, for sure, it's not going to be an easy race. We were hoping for a better start to the season with Ruben but we have not completely dialled the bike in for him yet. We just need a bit more time but I'm quite sure that he'll battle for higher positions in tomorrow's races.
Sunny conditions for the second day of qualifying for the Pedercini Team Superbike riders at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. During the morning qualifying, all three of the team's riders improved on their best lap times, but unfortunately not quite enough to be able to enter the Superpole. Staring reached eighteenth place (1'32"883) while Rolfo and Aitchison obtained respectively the twenty first (1'33"079) and the twenty second (1'33"413) position. The team is still working very hard, continuing development of the new Kawasaki Superbike, a long job that they were only able to start at the beginning of this week, during Monday and Tuesday's testing sessions. The riders and team's technical staff are satisfied with the improvements they achieved over the last two days. The bike's performance is improving with each exit the riders make.
In the afternoon, during the final free practice session, the riders were able to work on settings for the tomorrow 22 laps races.
Phillip Island – Qualifying second session : 1) Checa (Ducati) – 2) Biaggi (Aprilia) – 3) Sykes (Kawasaki) – 4) Guintoli (Ducati) …….18) Staring (Kawasaki) …… 21) Rolfo (Kawasaki) – 22) Aitchison (Kawasaki)
Free practice second session : 1) Checa (Ducati) – 2) Guintoli (Ducati) – 3) Biaggi (Aprilia) – 4) Haslam (BMW) ….. 18) Aitchison (Kawasaki) – 19) Rolfo (Kawasaki) …. 22) Staring (Kawasaki)
Bryan Staring: "I'm very disappointed for the team and myself because I was not able to achieve the lap time I needed to enter Superpole. I knew it was attainable and I pushed very hard to improve my lap time, but three times I risked a crash and so preferred not to risk any more, especially in view of tomorrow's double race. The team has been fantastic and we have been making strong progress over the weekend. We did a good job also in the afternoon free practice, improving my bike setting, and tomorrow I'll try my best to take some good results for my team and my sponsor".
Roberto Rolfo :"I'm definitely more satisfied today, compared with yesterday's qualifying session. Today I was able to continuously improve my best lap time and the feeling I have with my bike is getting better. Today we made some important modifications to my bike's set-up and now I know we are going in the right direction. Of course I'm not happy with today's results but I'm sure that the Kawasaki has great potential and I'm more confident for tomorrow races".
Mark Aitchison: "Our second day of qualifying and practice went well. During the session I have experimented with a few different settings and I found some more comfort with the bike. The weekend here in Phillip Island is really like a test for our team and with these changes we are gathering data for the future rounds. I think I know exactly which tyre combination I will use for the race, so after warm up we will evaluate the weather condition and close the set up. I look forward to my first Superbike races tomorrow, they'll be tough, but I'm sure I'll have fun".