Press releases from the WSBK and WSS teams and from Infront Motor Sports after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Phillip Island - Qualifying Practice
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider Marco Melandri (ITA) will go into Sunday's season opener of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship after setting a time that would put him on the provisional third row. Marco finished today's qualifying practice at Phillip Island (AUS) in ninth position. His team mate, Leon Haslam (GBR), underwent surgery on his fractured tibia on Thursday morning. The operation went according to plan. After being declared fit in the morning to take part in Friday's first free practice session by the circuit's medical officer, the team management and team doctor, Dr. Vincenzo Tota, made a joint decision to let Leon complete two flying laps in qualifying practice later in the day. The circuit's medical officer will review Leon again before a final decision is taken to let him ride on Saturday.
BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team rider Michel Fabrizio (ITA) finished qualifying practice in tenth, and his team mate Ayrton Badovini (ITA) was 18th.
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:32.888 min (P11)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:32.553 min (P9)
"Today was difficult. We worked a lot on the bike, and improved it in some areas, but went in the wrong direction in some other areas. I still cannot carry good speed going into the corner. It seems we need time to get this fixed. Thanks to everyone for working so hard."
Fastest lap Free Practice: DNS/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:33.532 min (P21)
"The surgery went really well. A big "Thank You" to surgeon Dr. Blackney, to Dr. Vincenzo Tota, to the guys at the circuit and at Clinica Mobile for sorting me out. I only did two flying laps today to see how I felt on the bike. That was the objective, and we will now leave it until tomorrow. I did not want to do anything silly. Actually I was not pushing at all, but rather cruising around. If it is the case that I feel well enough and we believe we can be in the points then I would like to race."
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
"We jointly decided to let Leon go out today in order to see if he can safely ride the bike. This test ride was not about performance at all. We did not want to take any risks, as Leon only underwent surgery on Thursday morning. He felt well on the bike. The circuit's medical officer will review him again later. A decision as to whether he will ride tomorrow will be taken then. Marco worked on setting up his chassis and his engine brake during this morning. Although we have improved compared to Monday and Tuesday, it is not enough to be competitive at the moment. We are working hard to be there tomorrow."
GIUGLIANO AND CHECA (ALTHEA RACING) THIRD AND FOURTH IN FIRST SBK QUALIFYING AT PHILLIP ISLAND!
Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 24th February 2012: team Althea Racing took part in the opening sessions of the 2012 World Superbike Championship today at the Australian track of Phillip Island with some very encouraging results - young Althea rider Davide Giugliano closed first qualifying in third position, followed by Carlos Checa in fourth.
Checa, current SBK world champion, got straight to work in the first practice session of the morning, projecting himself into first place after only ten minutes. In very warm conditions (air temperature 26˚C, track 41˚C), Carlos continued to improve throughout the 45-minute sessions, closing with a best time of 1m31.9. He was the only rider to lap in under 1m32. His team-mate Giugliano began to make progress in the second part of the session, working hard to increase feeling with his Ducati 1198 and improving on his times to close the practice in sixteenth position with a best time of 1m33.1.
Later in the day, in afternoon qualifying, Checa put in a similar performance, recording some very fast times at the start of the session and moving into first position once more. He maintained a very good pace throughout the entire session which, on a track now 53˚C in temperature, bodes well for Sunday's races. Having found a better setting this morning, Giugliano made a convincing step up mid-session to join his team-mate near the top of the timesheets. Both Althea men made a tyre choice that suited the warm conditions and, as a result, first qualifying saw Giugliano close in third position with a best time of 1m32.1, followed by Checa in fourth (1m32.2).
"We've worked well today. All went well apart from the incident of course; I lost the rear, maybe because of tyre wear, and couldn't keep hold of it but luckily I didn't collide with the small wall in front of me! I was able to get back to the garage where we sorted the handlebar and changed the tyre. I had the chance to try the narrower tyre but we saw that the wider tyre lasts longer. The tyres were the focus of our work today really, identifying the best solution to ensure good race pace. I'm satisfied with what we've got done. I've always gone well with the Ducati at Phillip Island and so I think we can benefit from this ‘track factor' come Sunday."
"It didn't go at all badly. I had lost some feeling after my crash on Tuesday and so this morning was difficult but, with the team's help, I was able to regain confidence by the afternoon. Concentrating on finding feeling means that we couldn't work on race pace but that will be on tomorrow's schedule. I had Carlos' help in putting together those fast laps and it looks like we have the potential to be fast - now I just need to go out and find consistency on my own, which is difficult as I don't yet have all the references. Anyway, we've worked hard and we'll see what happens tomorrow but today we leave the track very happy."
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
"It was a very positive first qualifying session. Today we identified a better setting with Davide after carrying out some final tests this morning but the key was selecting the most suitable tyre for him - this allowed Davide to put in a fantastic time that puts him in third place for now. I have to say that Carlos also gave him an involuntary hand in making that fast lap but the performance was nevertheless strong.
Carlos, having more experience, concentrated on finding a race pace that will allow him to complete the races at the highest level and was less worried about setting the kind of times he'd set in practice. He also selected the right tyre that will probably be the race tyre. All of the members of team Althea did a top job today which allowed our two Ducati riders to be so fast. Tomorrow it should be hotter, meaning less grip, so I expect a difficult day as far as tyres are concerned."
Rea leaves it late to be fastest on the first day of the season
Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 24 February 2012 - Jonathan Rea pulled off the surprise of the day in first qualifying at Phillip Island as the Honda World Superbike man put in the only sub-1m32s lap in the last couple of minutes to head the field.
Rea's time of 1 minute 31.959 seconds put him in front of three Ducati riders, who had dominated the session until then. Second place went to Jakub Smrz on the Liberty Racing machine, followed by Superstock 1000 champion Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) in third and his team-mate Carlos Checa in fourth. The Italian rookie actually led at one point, before the others put in faster laps close to the end of the 45-minute session.
Jonathan Rea: "Going fastest was a pleasant surprise and also kind of our plan. We went out and got on a decent pace right away, sort of 1'32 lap times, but with old tyres. Then we developed a problem with the bike and we lost a bit of time during the session. When we did go out again I went out with what I think the race tyre is going to be fitted to the rear, but it did not have the pace of the tyre I used at the end. I did about ten laps on that tyre, all very consistent but it was not going to be the fastest lap of the day. I came in to the pits near the end and got a new tyre then went out and we got a bit of a feel good factor; just to see that we were not that far away from the pace really."
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) was next up in fifth place ahead of the Red Devils Roma Ducati of another rookie Niccolò Canepa, while the final two places on the provisional second row went to the two Kawasaki Racing Team riders, Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz. Lascorz had a fall in the timed session, Sykes a tumble in the earlier free practice session.
Joshua Brookes (Crescent Suzuki), Checa and Maxime Berger (Effenbert Liberty) all went off during the official session, but without any consequences, while Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing) again crashed, picking up a head knock, but was declared fit after medical checks.
Italian stars Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) rounded out the top ten places. Top Suzuki rider was Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) with privateer Aprilia rider Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing) 13th from 25 entrants.
Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) returned to the track today after his big testing crash and did three laps to see how his recovery from very recent surgery was holding up. He set a 1'33.5 lap time and has qualified to race if he is deemed fit enough to do so.
Times: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1'31.959; 2. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1'32.116; 3. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'32.198; 4. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1'32.228; 5. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'32.318; 6. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'32.343; 7. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.402; 8. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.443; 9. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.553; 10. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.609; 11. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'32.644; 12. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'32.817; 13. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'32.874; 14. Staring B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.884; 15. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1'33.040; 16. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'33.075; etc.
Superbike records at Phillip Island
Fastest Lap: Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1'31"826 (2007)
Best Lap: Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'30"882 (2011)
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) is the man most on form in World Supersport, the Aussie powering his Honda CBR600RR to the quickest time in 1 minute 34.532 seconds on the first day of qualifying. Parkes was just 26 thousandths of a second ahead of Frenchman Jules Cluzel on a PTR Honda machine, a new arrival on this year's Supersport grid and one of the stars of recent winter testing.
Third place went to Sam Lowes from the Bogdanka side of the PTR operation, with two former champions, Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini), next up. Alex Baldolini was the top Italian in sixth place, a good effort on the Power Team by Suriano Triumph, but team-mate Vittorio Iannuzzo crashed and dropped down the order.
East European riders are also making major progress in these early stages, with Hungarian Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth) ahead of Czech Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) in seventh and eighth respectively.
Times: 1. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1'34.532; 2. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1'34.558; 3. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1'34.564; 4. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'34.791; 5. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'34.807; 6. Baldolini A. (ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 1'35.013; 7. Nemeth B. (HUN) Honda CBR600RR 1'35.296; 8. Pesek L. (CZE) Honda CBR600RR 1'35.526; etc.
Supersport records at Phillip Island
Fastest Lap: Fabien Foret (Honda) 1'34.941 (168.485 km/h) - 2011
Best Lap: Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1'33.847 (170.512 km/h) - 2010
FIRST QUALIFYING FOR CRESCENT FIXI SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office - February 24.
Team Crescent Fixi Suzuki began its World Superbike Championship assault at Phillip Island in Australia today at the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship with Leon Camier ending first qualifying in 12th and Josh Brookes 20th, but both confident of big improvements tomorrow.
Held in mostly hot and sunny conditions, the morning session started a little cool, but as the day wore on, the temperature grew and caused a few problems with grip; highlighted when injured John Hopkins' stand-in rider Brookes lost the front end of the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 and crashed.
Leon Camier - 12th, 1:32.817:
"I am a little disappointed how things turned out today, but racing is like that sometimes. We made some changes to the bike for the morning session, but the changes didn't make the improvements we thought they would. So we put the bike back to the way it was at the end of the official tests and started working all over again. In the afternoon session, we had some problems with the clutch, which caused some corner entry issues, so I couldn't push as hard as I would've liked. It was a bit frustrating, but if we can find just half a second, we'll be there or thereabouts and that is definitely possible.
Josh Brookes - 20th, 1:33.477:
"I am not very happy because everything had been going well until I crashed this afternoon when I lost the front end in MG corner. Although the conditions were not conducive to fast lap times this afternoon, I actually did my best laps at the hottest time of the day - and that's not normal. I was pleased with the improvement from the morning and now I am looking forward to more progress. I cannot quite feel the limit of the bike and the tyre yet, but once I do that, I'll be able to go faster for sure."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It's been a hard day, but nothing we cannot handle. The things we tried with Leon's bike in the morning did not improve the bike, so we returned to what we knew worked. In the afternoon he had some clutch issues, but still managed to do a great job and qualify in the position he did. Josh tipped off at MG, but we can see that he's progressing and that's a positive. We're new to this Championship and are under no illusions how competitive this series is. On a positive note, all of us at Crescent Fixi Suzuki are very pleased with the performance-gain of new-spec Yoshimura engines."
Cluzel provisional second for PTR Honda
PTR HONDA French ace Jules Cluzel scorched to second place on the provisional grid for Sunday's opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
His PTR Honda team-mate Ronan Quarmby is ninth with Riders PTR Honda's Martin Jessopp improving fast and taking 15th. There are further practice and qualifying sessions tomorrow ahead of the race on Sunday at 1330 local time.
Jules: "I am happy because I made second place. I hope tomorrow to improve my lap times but it will be difficult as the temperature in the afternoon can be more than 30 degrees more than the morning. But we are in a good position already and everything is good with my PTR team. We have some things to try tomorrow morning, I will push a little more and try to go faster."
Ronan: "My lap times are consistent and we are competitive over a race distance. I still want to go faster and will be working with the team to improve tomorrow and go for the first two rows."
Martin: "I am still going in the right direction and took another big chunk of time off. It is still not where I want to be and I want to improve a few more places tomorrow. I am looking at the data of the other PTR guys who are 600 riders and there is a big difference; I am grabbing too much brake and do not have enough corner speed. Every session I am getting closer and learning."
Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "It's been a great day for Jules, he's only thousandths off pole; he is an intelligent rider and working well with the team. Ronan is riding very well and improving so we expect he should challenge for the first two rows tomorrow. Martin has taken 1.5secs off his lap times and is still adapting his riding style from Superbike to Supersport. For the PTR Honda team it has been its best qualifying ever with four racers in the top 10 and five in the top 15 - that's a good first day and a great start to the season."
Lowes in close third at Australia
BOGDANKA PTR HONDA'S Sam Lowes finished both of Friday's World Supersport sessions at Phillip Island in a close third position, ending the day just 32 thousands of a second from provisional pole position and aiming to go even faster tomorrow.
His South African teammate, Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda, continued his adaptation to the new series in impressive fashion, rounding out the top ten just over a second from Sam at the end of the opening day.
Bogdanka Honda PTR's Pawel Szkopek finished the opening day in 20th position. The Polish rider is confident of going significantly faster tomorrow during the second practice and qualifying ahead of the Sunday's race.
Sam Lowes: "It was a really good day and things are looking good ahead of Sunday's race. The weather is hot and consistent and should stay that way for the rest of the weekend, which is good too. We've been working a lot on race pace and ended the day less than one tenth from pole so it's all coming together really well. The aim for tomorrow is to continue working on the setup in the morning and then try to put the bike on pole position in qualifying; but as long as we are on the front row, I'll be relatively happy."
Mathew Scholtz:"Today went really, really well for me and I did better than I thought so I'm happy. The track feels the same as during the test but I've changed my lines to avoid some of the bumps and that seemed to help me a lot and allowed me to go a bit faster. I was focusing on getting the feeling back in the free practice and trying some new things with the setup before the team made a big change for the afternoon which definitely seemed to help. We have a few small things we'd still like to try tomorrow morning and I hope to go a bit faster in the second qualifying. Sunday will be my first World Supersport race and I hope to bring home some points."
Pawel Szkopek: "So far it looks like it's all good and I'm eager to improve. I went a lot quicker in the test on Tuesday and I'm confident we can still improve from that, so I'm expecting a lot of progress tomorrow and a good grid position for Sunday's race."
Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Team Manager: "Sam's already gone a tenth faster than last year and has the race pace, he is in good shape for tomorrow and the race. At the moment Mathew still has to learn how to get more out of the tyre when it is new but his race pace is also good; it looks like he can challenge for the front two rows tomorrow."
Rea leads the way at Phillip Island
Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea took provisional pole position for the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia after setting the fastest time in this afternoon’s first qualifying session.
Rea was the only rider to lap the 4.445km circuit below 1m32s, with Jakub Smrz, Davide Guigliano and reigning world champion, Carlos Checa, joining the 25-year-old Ulsterman on the provisional front row.
Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, had a difficult first morning in World Superbikes, with a crash at Phillip Island’s turn two. With the new one-bike rule coming into force this season, the Japanese rider managed to get back to the pits where his crew re-built his machine for the last ten minutes of free practice.
Aoyama was 15th in this afternoon’s qualifying session, but is confident of progress in tomorrow’s practice and qualifying and is hoping to make his debut in Superpole tomorrow afternoon.
Jonathan Rea - P1, 1m31.959s
The day started quite poorly for us as we used the smaller, less preferred tyre at this track and it wasn’t going good. I got a bad rhythm and felt like I wasn’t riding good but in the afternoon we worked on a long run with the harder race tyre to see what consistency is like with that. Consistency is really good, but the lap time is not so good, so right at the very end of the session we used the softer tyre, but still the bigger one, and the lap time was good. So I know my pace is good and the bike’s working well in the conditions, but it’s still a compromise with tyres. Tomorrow we’ll do more long runs on both the tyres and make our mind up for the race, but the target’s to be on the front row, for sure.
Hiroshi Aoyama - P15, 1m33.040s
Well, for me, the first day of the superbike experience wasn’t so easy because I had one crash and some kind of trouble. We could not do what we wanted to do today so there was a little stress for everybody. I think we know what we should change for tomorrow and I hope that it’s another day to feel better.
To view the riders’ quotes in video form, please click the following link: