Press releases from the WSBK and WSS teams after the first day of practice at Imola:
ALTHEA RACING'S CHECA SEVENTH, GIUGLIANO ELEVENTH IN TODAY'S FIRST SBK QUALIFYING AT IMOLA
Imola (Italy), Friday 30 March 2012: after a month's break the second round of the World Superbike Championship got underway today at the historic Autodromo di Imola. Team Althea Racing, and its riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano made a solid start, closing first qualifying in seventh and eleventh position respectively.
2011 World Champion Checa got straight down to work in the first free practice session his morning, which took place in warm and sunny conditions (26°C air temperature, 34°C track). The Spaniard has always enjoyed racing at Imola, Ducati's home track, and after just a few laps he was already near the top of the timesheets. He continued to improve during the session, particularly in the final stages, and concluded the session with the third fastest time (1m49.2), just behind Badovini and Guintoli.
His team-mate Davide, rather than concentrating on lap times, worked with his technicians to refine the set-up of his Ducati 1198 so as to be fully prepared for the afternoon's first qualifying. He therefore closed the session in 17th position, with a best of 1m51.4.
In the afternoon's qualifying session and on a hotter track (41¢ªC), both Althea Racing riders continued to make good progress, lowering their lap times in line with their closest rivals. The first ten riders closed the session within 0.4 seconds of each other, Carlos finishing in seventh position with a best time of 1m48.3 while Davide, taking two seconds off his morning's best time, closed just outside the top ten, in eleventh place, but with a fastest time of 1m48.7.
"Tomorrow we'll work more on race pace but, considering the fact that the conditions of this particular track tend to improve over the weekend, I'm feeling confident. We are, as usual, very close in terms of times but some of the frontrunners have only done a couple of flying laps so it's doesn't tell us very much really. Even here, a track that should be more 'Ducati-friendly', we are seeing the difference with regard to top speed but there's not much we can do about that. We'll see tomorrow. A lot will depend on track conditions and tyres but, as I said, I'm feeling good about things."
"This morning I didn't rush into things, I saw that on new asphalt it was more sensible to take things slowly and work on the bike. This afternoon went really well, my head and my bike were both in a good place and I was able to make some good laps. I wanted to try a different tyre as I thought that with that I could have gone better but today I'm satisfied, also because we're only seven tenths from pole and that is very encouraging."
Smrz heads up astoundingly close first qualifying session
Imola (Italy), Friday 30 March 2012 - Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Effenbert Ducati) took provisional pole position in the first qualifying session at Imola, right at the very end of the day, displacing the potential Kawasaki 1-2 of Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and his team-mate Tom Sykes. Smrz’s time of 1 minute 48.146 seconds was only 0.030 faster than Lascorz after a day characterized by extraordinarily close competition.
Fourth in the early rankings was the perennially competitive Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) had a strong Friday and ended up fifth, his fellow Briton Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) sixth and best BMW rider. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati), defending his championship crown this year, was seventh in timed qualifying.
Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati’s Sylvain Guintoli held off the push of Eugene Laverty’s Aprilia Racing works bike in eighth place, with the top ten being rounded out on day one by Leon Camier and his Crescent Fixi Suzuki. The top ten riders were covered by a remarkable 0.410 seconds, the top 15 by only 0.813 seconds.
Althea Racing’s second rider Davide Giugliano was 11th today, one place up on this morning’s fastest man Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia Gold Bet).
Times: 1. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1'48.146; 2. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.176; 3. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.246; 4. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.247; 5. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1'48.321; 6. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.328; 7. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1'48.375; 8. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'48.555; 9. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.555; 10. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'48.556; 11. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'48.728; 12. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.741; 13. Zanetti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1'48.762; 14. 33 Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.773; 15. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.959; 16. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1'49.343; etc.
Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) made the most of his recent test experiences at Imola to post provisional pole, heading off the Bogdanka PRT Honda of Sam Lowes. Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) went top three while Kawasaki Intermoto Step rider Fabien Foret ensured that four different teams would fill the first four virtual qualifying places on Friday.
Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda) found the form that was missing for him in round one at Australia to go fifth today, while PI sensation Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) was sixth in his first visit to Imola. Talented Russian rider Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) ended his first day seventh.
Times: 1. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'52.251; 2. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1'52.302; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1'52.582; 4. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'52.826; 5. Tamburini R. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1'52.927; 6. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1'53.090; 7. Leonov V. (RUS) Yamaha YZF R6 1'53.338; 8. Quarmby R. (RSA) Honda CBR600RR 1'53.631; etc.
Markus Reiterberger (Team Alpha Racing BMW) was top man in the first qualifying session at Imola, holding off the early push from the all-new Ducati 1199 Panigale of Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia). Lorenzo Baroni (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) showed well on day one, third fastest, while Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Team Italia) went fourth on the early time sheets.
Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) was fifth fastest, on a good day for European machinery. The top two Kawasaki riders were Loris Baz (MRS) and Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini); sixth and seventh fastest respectively.
Times: 1. Reiterberger M. (GER) BMW S1000 RR 1'51.242; 2. La Marra E. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1'51.648; 3. Baroni L. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1'51.823; 4. Savadori L. (ITA) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1'51.837; 5. Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 1'52.018; 6. Baz L. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'52.551; 7. Staring B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'52.591; 8. Massei F. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR 1'52.782; etc.
EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda rider Michael van der Mark secured the provisional top grid spot today, by only 0.188 seconds, from Team Trasimeno Yamaha’s Nacho Calero Perez. Team Italia FMI Yamaha duo Luca Vitali and Riccardo Russo were third and fourth respectively. The fastest wildcard rider on show today was Niccol Morrentino (Elle 2 Promotion Yamaha), fifth in a vast field of 38 riders. Swiss rider Bastien Chesaux, the team-mate of van der Mark this season, was sixth quickest, some way back from the top five riders in terms of lap times.
Times: 1. Van der Mark M. (NED) Honda CBR600RR 1'54.906; 2. Calero Perez N. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R6 1'55.094; 3. Vitali L. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1'55.324; 4. Russo R. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1'55.366; 5. Morrentino N. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1'55.695; 6. Chesaux B. (SUI) Honda CBR600RR 1'56.126; 7. Cocco F. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1'56.224; 8. Egea S. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1'56.461;
POSITIVE START FOR CAMIER AND HOPKINS
Team Suzuki Press Office - March 30.
Crescent Fixi Suzuki made a positive start to the second round of the World Superbike Championship at Imola in Italy with Leon Camier finishing 10th and John Hopkins 18th in today's opening Qualifying session.
Camier was joined by team mate Hopkins for the first time in a race weekend and both riders immediately began to get back into the groove. Camier last rode at Phillip Island in Australia nearly five weeks ago, but Hopkins' last competitive laps were in October 2011 - he missed the opening race in Australia after breaking his hand testing - so his priority in the first Qualifying was to get comfortable again on the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 before pushing too hard.
In this afternoon's Qualifying, Camier charged into the top three before being shuffled down the order at the end of the session when there was more traffic on the track. Hopkins - who had not ridden at Imola since a test in 2009 - spent time relearning the circuit. He was hampered by a technical problem in the morning and was unable to do as many laps as he wanted, but managed to go one-and-a-half-seconds faster in the afternoon qualifying session.
Leon Camier - 10th, 1:48.556:
"Today was not so bad and I'm pretty happy. I would've been further up the standings today but got held up by slower riders at the end of the session. The track has good grip and it's consistent, so today we were able to just go out, put in the laps; and try some ideas. After the long gap since Phillip Island, I felt a bit stiff on the bike at first, but soon started to get a good feeling with the Crescent Fixi Suzuki again. We have a good base set-up and the only thing we need to work on is the gearing and the gearbox. If we can get that sorted out, I can consistently go about three-tenths-of-a second quicker - I want to be in the fight with the front guys here in Imola."
John Hopkins - 18th, 1:49.790:
"Today was all about getting back in the groove and being comfortable on the bike and I am happy with what we did. The hand feels good and there were no problems with it at all. I lost some time in the morning session, but went one-and-half-seconds quicker this afternoon, so we're heading in the right direction for sure. Apart from a few laps in the Phillip Island tests, the last time I rode a bike was five months ago, so I took it prettily steadily today. We have a good base setting and now we need to push harder and see what we can achieve."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I think today went pretty well. Leon was happy with his base set-up and spent a lot of the time trying different tyres to see which worked well and which didn't. He was well up the leaderboard this afternoon and probably would've stayed in the top six if it hadn't been for the traffic. John did what we wanted him to do; he built up gradually and got used to the bike again. He went quite a bit quicker this afternoon and we know there's more to come. I'd be happy for John to keep improving and get into Superpole.
"We have a slightly upgraded Yoshimura engine for both riders for tomorrow and race day and, with some setting tweaks tonight; we hope the package will be competitive."
BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Imola - Qualifying Practice 1
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport started the race weekend with a place on the provisional second row at Imola (ITA). The “Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari” hosts the second round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship. Factory rider Leon Haslam (GBR) finished the first qualifying practice in sixth. His team mate, Marco Melandri (ITA) qualified a provisional 14th on his BMW S 1000 RR. The team is confident it is heading in the right direction and will move further up the grid in tomorrow’s Superpole qualifying.
BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team rider Ayrton Badovini (ITA) finished qualifying practice in 12th, and his team mate Michel Fabrizio (ITA) was 19th.
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:50.337 min (P15)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:48.328 min (P6)
“In the qualifying practice we worked on chassis set-up and on engine management. The new characteristic of the engine feels better, but it is more sensitive to the grip level. We are working on finding a strategy that is well balanced to the different grip levels. Last year we didn’t get any benefit from a new tyre and that has improved a lot this year. Now, we just need to find the right set-up for the new engine spec. For race distance it is working quite well, but we still have some more work to do. My leg is not affecting me too much. I don’t need any painkillers and I have minimal strapping on it, so it is definitely better than in Australia.”
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:49.657 min (P8)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:48.773 min (P14)
“It was not an easy day. In the morning, the balance was okay, but unfortunately we were struggling with some chattering in the afternoon. We tried to fix it but went the wrong way. In the end it was difficult and I could not go into the corners optimally. That is why I made some mistakes in the more difficult parts of the track, for example at Acque Minerale and it was also difficult for me to go into the second chicane. We will now analyse the data and we will try some modifications for tomorrow, for example regarding weight distribution.”
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
“We started with both riders using the latest spec of the engine, which shows its potential on this track and is working well which is good. In the colder conditions of the morning, Marco was quite fast with the hard tyre. In the afternoon with a higher track temperature, he was struggling a bit more with chattering. We are confident that we will be able to reduce that for tomorrow. Leon has done a good job. Even in the afternoon, when the conditions were more difficult, he was able to go consistently fast. We are confident that we can improve our set-up for tomorrow to enable both riders to fight for the first row.”
Rea in the hunt at Imola
Jonathan Rea ended today’s opening qualifying session for round two of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Imola in fifth place after Jakub Smrz took provisional pole position in warm, sunny conditions at the historic Italian circuit.
In an extremely close opening 45 minutes of qualifying, the ten fastest riders were covered by less than half a second, while the top 15 lapped within one second of each other.
Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, took to the 4.936km Imola circuit for the first time this morning and spent much of the day learning its undulations and requirements for a precise, high-speed line. The 30-year-old Japanese rider ended the first qualifying session in 22nd place.
For Rea, however, today marked a return to a happy hunting ground where, six months ago, he returned from three months on the sidelines. The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland evaluated a new swinging arm today, finishing qualifying less than two tenths off the provisional pole time.
Jonathan Rea - P5 1m48.321s
We had a pretty smooth day, really and tested a new swingarm this morning and kept it for this afternoon. Already, the pace is quite fast - similar to last year - so we’re working to improve a little. Our consistency is quite good but the out-and-out lap time to go clear at the front isn’t coming yet. Whilst we continue to look for a better time, we have to keep race set-up in the back of our minds because last year we were able to manage the race quite well. We’ve got a few changes to try tomorrow morning which will hopefully help us in areas where we’re struggling, like stability under quick changes of direction. When we do that I think we’ll be ready for Superpole but the target for tomorrow is to get on the front row with a good setting for Sunday.
Hiroshi Aoyama - P22 1m51.511s
The circuit was more difficult to learn than I expected. Some corners are blind downhill, with another corner immediately after. It’s hard get the correct line and it’s not so easy to correct the line because the speeds are quite high. If you are a little bit late it’s TOO late! So I must study and get the correct lines and braking points. The chicanes also have different braking points, and these are other areas where it’s difficult to find the correct way to go fast. Of course I want to improve a lot more for tomorrow so I’ll check the data to see where I am losing and where I need to find a faster time.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
With Jonathan we started testing some new items, including a swingarm, but the track was still quite dirty. But we completed that session on only one set of tyres, which made it look a little worse than it was. For the afternoon, we kept the swingarm and made some changes to the front and that brought an improvement. For his last outing, we put some new tyres in and Jonathan matched his best race times from last year, so we’re quite happy with that. Hiroshi told us before the season that he might struggle a little with learning new circuits. We’re still also looking for a set up for him - we started this morning with a bit new, and a bit of Jonathan’s setting and we had to modify that. Learning the track at the same time made things a little difficult for him.
Strong sixth for Jules at the first attempt
PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel took sixth place on the provisional grid for Sunday's second round of the World Supersport Championship at Imola in Italy on his first attempt at riding the tricky circuit near Bologna.
Ronan Quarmby is an impressive eighth. Riders PTR Honda's Martin Jessopp finished 24th after improving his best time by more than a second since the morning. There are further practice and qualifying sessions tomorrow before the race takes place on Sunday, April 1st at 1330CET.
Jules: "Today is not so bad. This morning was my first time at what is a very difficult track to learn. There are some corners that are totally blind but this is actually a really nice track as well. This afternoon I wanted to hold a two seconds gap to pole and finished up just 8/10ths back so that is good. For me today was about finding a setting. This evening we will check the data and see where I lose time with Sam and after this we may change something. There are no big problems and I think we can improve."
Ronan: "This morning we had a small problem with thhe fuel sensor that lost us a little bit of time. At the start of qualifying I had a problem with brake lever travel that was quickly sorted. I got a good lap for eighth and then I lost the front at the last corner losing the chance to improve. We had some problems today but I am really happy to be eighth on the second row. I am looking forward to tomorrow and I want to try and challenge for a front row start."
Martin: "I managed to slash a second from my lap time in the morning but need to improve more. This is a difficult track and learning it at the same time as adapting to the 600 is not easy. I am determined to improve tomorrow."
Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "It is Jules' first time at Imola and he has settled in well and is improving with every lap. He can tidy his lines up a bit more but is going very well already. Ronan had a problem with a fuel sensor in the morning but he is improving quickly. He had a small crash at the end at the last corner while on his fastest lap but is OK and looking good for the rest of the weekend. This is a very technical track that is undulating and twisty and Martin is still adapting to riding a 600 - but he is cutting his times and determined to move up the grid."
Lowes on front row on Friday
BOGDANKA PTR HONDA's Sam Lowes was a close second fastest in the first qualifying session for round two of the World Supersport Championship at Imola in Italy.
Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda focused on learning the track and ended the day in 14th position, while Bogdanka Honda PTR's Pawel Szkopek was 18th with the second qualifying session tomorrow and the race on Sunday at 1:30PM CET.
Sam Lowes: "I'm really happy with today. Qualifying went very well for us. I'm feeling very good on the bike and with a small change to the front I know I can go faster tomorrow and improve; so I'm just looking forward to trying it out in the free practice in the morning and then the second qualifying in the afternoon. We're in good shape and our race pace looks good, the weather is nice, the track is great, so I just can't wait for tomorrow really."
Mathew Scholtz: "I was focusing on learning the track today and worked on the setup. It's my first time here but I've found the track a lot of fun and quite easy to ride. I'm 14th after the first day but I'd like to improve further and go faster tomorrow in second qualifying."
Pawel Szkopek: "I'm happy. We were testing tyres and setup today and I didn't push for a fast lap in the end of the qualifying. This allowed us to save a tyre for tomorrow so I'm feeling quite confident, especially as I was feeling really good on track by the end of the day. The track was very slippery in the morning and it's a lot more bumpy on corner entry compared to Phillip Island so it took some time to get used to but the weather is fine so I'm really positive."
Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Team Manager: "Sam is doing good. He had some front end chatter but is consistently fast and once we dial out the chatter he has the potential to challenge for pole. He is in good shape for the race. Mathew did a good job on his first visit to the track and is steadily getting faster and faster; he is progressing well."