Press releases from some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Phillip Island progress for Pata Honda after slow start
Michael van der Mark set the fourth fastest time on his Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in this afternoon’s second free practice session at Phillip Island in Australia in preparation for Sunday’s opening round of the 2015 World Superbike championship.
The 22-year-old Dutch rider ended the day in seventh place overall after a slow start in this morning’s opening free practice session at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit when cooler track conditions were more favourable for setting a faster time.
Van der Mark’s Pata Honda team-mate Sylvain Guintoli also struggled somewhat in the opening free practice session this morning but worked with his team on upping his pace in this afternoon’s hotter conditions when track temperatures topped 50°C.
Despite lower grip levels the French ace was able to improve his lap time and ended the session in eighth place although he remains 12th fastest on overall combined times.
Michael van der Mark - P7, 1m31.693s
This afternoon we made a really big step because, to be honest, this morning’s first session was a bit of a disappointment. During the test we had some difficulties and we changed the set-up a lot, but we found out this morning that those changes weren’t working. We started this afternoon with some more changes and immediately the feeling was completely different, even though the track conditions were not so good like this morning. In the end I set my fastest time in a long run and the bike is much easier to ride now, especially changes in direction. That’s what we were working for and to be fourth in the second session and seventh overall makes me really happy, but we’ll keep working to improve.
Sylvain Guintoli - P12, 1m32.329s
It was a tough start this morning when we tried something that didn’t work so we had to go back to the base setting. The feeling with the bike this afternoon was a little better but I’m still struggling to get dialled in, so there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re too slow for now and we have to look through all the data to find that last little bit of pace that we need. We’re still a little bit on the back foot after missing the test in Jerez and I’m just not quite dialled in yet. We’re definitely making progress but sometimes it happens straight away and other times you need a bit more time to find your mark.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
It hasn’t been an easy start for Sylvain and we expected to make a little more progress than we actually have. We’re still working on improving settings and defining the bike for his needs. In the hotter conditions this afternoon he was a bit quicker than this morning and finished eighth in the session, which is a positive but there’s room for more, which we will continue with tomorrow. Michael also did not have an easy morning session today. We went the wrong way with the setting on the bike and changed it for the afternoon. Immediately the feeling was back and when we put in the last tyre he managed to do a really good run and did a 31.6 as a fastest time. But he could also manage 32.0s easily and to do that in the hot conditions when the grip was lower is very good.
Solid Supersport start for Smith
Pata Honda rider Kyle Smith set the fourth fastest overall time in today’s two free practice sessions for the opening round of the 2015 World Supersport championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
The 23-year-old British rider fired his Honda CBR600RR around the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit in a time of 1m34.023s, 0.7s behind provisional pole sitter Jules Cluzel.
Making his World Supersport debut on a track he rode for the first time during a two-day test earlier this week, Smith has impressed his Pata Honda team with his feedback on the CBR’s performance, as well as his speed.
Smith will return to the circuit for Free Practice 3 tomorrow morning before the afternoon qualifying session to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s 18-lap World Supersport opener.
Kyle Smith - P4, 1m34.023s
I’m really happy! I didn’t expect to be in the top five, even though that’s what I was aiming for in the race. But to be up there on the first day is really positive. I was actually third fastest this morning and third all the way through that second practice until the last couple of minutes. It’s good and I’m happy with the bike and the team and my ideal lap is a bit faster, so if can put that together, that would be good. I've spoken to the guys and it’s clear from the data that I do get it sideways and spinning up quite a lot, which isn’t really good for going fast or the end of the race. I’m used to much shorter Superstock races on the Fireblade where you can get away with it a bit more. So we’ll be working a bit more on my style tomorrow in FP3 but, apart from th at, it’s all good.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Kyle had a very good test here earlier this week and he continued improving this morning when he finished third fastest with a better lap time. In the afternoon session he improved a little more and ended up fourth fastest. For his first day in World Supersport I think he did a really good job and if he continues like this it looks like he’ll be fighting with three or four other riders for the last podium position on Sunday.
Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team) eighth at the end of today’s timed practice at Phillip Island; Bayliss slowed down by a technical problem
Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 20 February 2015 – The 2015 Superbike championship officially opened today at the Australian circuit of Phillip Island, with the first timed practice sessions of the race weekend. Chaz Davies, factory rider with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team, made good progress during the two sessions, while Troy Bayliss, who substitutes for injured Davide Giugliano this weekend, unfortunately missed out on most of the morning’s session and was therefore only able to start the real set-up work of his Ducati Panigale R this afternoon.
During the first timed practice session, which took place this morning in good conditions (air temperature 22°C, track 29°C), Davies worked methodically with his technicians. Lapping with fairly consistent lap times, he closed this opening session in seventh position with a best time of 1’31.748. A technical problem for Bayliss, identified immediately after his first exit, unfortunately held him in the garage for the remainder of the session. The Australian therefore finished in eighteenth position, having completed only three laps in the first minutes of the session.
The track temperature was a lot higher (51°C) for the second session meaning that all of the Superbike riders struggled to improve on times set in the morning. With no particular problems, Chaz continued to work steadily with the team and, despite being unable to lower his lap time, he completed many laps and is generally satisfied with the performance of his Panigale R. The Welshman closed in eighth position. Thanks to the hard work of his technicians, Bayliss was able to get back on out track for session two, using the 45 minutes available to start the set-up work that would ideally have got underway this morning. Making small improvements during the course of the session, he was able to gradually lower his lap times, concluding day one with a best lap time of 1’33.490.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 8th (1’31.748)
“Things haven’t gone too badly today. I think that we’ve made some progress with regard to race set-up and are continuing to look for small improvements across certain areas, as we were doing during the tests. I don’t feel like the bike is turning well enough through a couple of the tighter turns but apart from that the bike seems reasonably stable. We need to work on grip in the final corner as the feeling hasn’t been as good as it was in testing but we’ll continue to work on that tomorrow…”
Troy Bayliss - (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #21) – 18th (1’33.490)
“I think I’ve only done about 19 laps all up. We lost almost the whole session this morning due to a technical issue which was a pity, but then this afternoon we were able to make some progress and I really started to feel good on the bike. I’m not feeling very confident with the back of the bike right now, in maximum lean, as there’s some sliding there, but I’m sure we’ll be able to sort thata out tomorrow. I can say that we’re definitely making progress. There’s a lot we still need to do tomorrow of course, but we’re taking baby steps and we’re getting there. The important thing is that I’m really enjoying riding the bike and overall I’m very happy for the 'short' Friday I’ve had.”
APRILIA IN THE LIMELIGHT ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT PHILLIP ISLAND
TORRES SECOND AND HASLAM FOURTH ON THE COMBINED TIMESHEETS, APRILIA IN THE TOP TWO SPOTS IN THE AFTERNOON SESSION
Phillip Island (Australia), 20 February 2015 – “It's only the first day of practice in the first round of a season that is going to be a very long one, but we are off on the right foot. I am very pleased with the bike and the two riders.”
The feeling of this Friday practice at Phillip Island is summed up in the words of Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager. This Sunday on the exciting Australian track the World SBK championship will kick off with Aprilia defending the double championship title (Rider and Manufacturer) won last season.
Spaniard Jordi Torres and English rider Leon Haslam, both in the first official year on the reigning world champion bikes, definitely got off on the right foot and rode their RSV4 RFs to the top part of the standings. Respectively second and fourth in the combined standings for today's sessions, they were consistently among the front-runners, even finishing the second session this afternoon with Torres leading and Haslam second.
But it was not just a battle against the clock. In fact, the Aprilia Racing - Red Devils riders focused on fine tuning their bikes, completing all the scheduled tasks and even testing various setups and materials with a view to Saturday's Superpole session and, above all, the races on Sunday.
It was an excellent début for Jordi Torres, who made no secret of his satisfaction: “Getting off to better start would be hard! Credit definitely goes to Aprilia, the bike that really works well here and the great feeling I have with the guys on the team. I find it easy to learn even though there are still a lot of things to improve. I also must say that this track suits my riding style well. You have to hold the line with the gas open, be fast in the turns and there are no violent braking sections. Maybe in more of a “stop-and-go” track things would be different. In any case I'm enjoying the moment, especially because we've been doing well on tyre wear as well. With the high temperatures this afternoon conserving the tyres is fundamental. Sliding around not only makes you lose time trying to hold the line in turns but also coming out of them and at high speeds. Tomorrow we'll continue testing and I can't wait to take on my first Superpole.”
Leon Haslam was also positive, working with the Sunday races in mind: “This first day was a good début for us. Today we tried a lot of different setups and were able to find some good solutions. In my last lap I crashed on turn 10 due to a small mistake. We also focused on the two rear tyre options available to us, on their performance with varying temperatures and wear during the race, and we are close to an optimum setup. Looking at the races on Sunday I think that the hotter tarmac will help my Aprilia. Its power output could make things easier for me. The secret to this track is trying everything and fine tuning the bike, so that's what we'll be concentrating on tomorrow.”
Lowes leads for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki as 2015 season begins
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes recorded the fastest overall time at Phillip Island today as the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship got underway in Australia.
Lowes set the marker early with a 1'30.855 on his third timed-lap of the opening session aboard his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki. A consistent pace during Friday’s 90-minutes of track-time allowed the British racer’s team to work through numerous setting and tyre options and, as the afternoon heat took the track temperature ever higher, Lowes continued to hold the fastest time for the remainder of the day.
With his first practice session in the World Superbike Championship underway, Randy de Puniet got up to speed quickly on his GSX-R1000. Despite his limited testing, and the accident earlier in the week still affecting his physical condition, the Frenchman ran a steady seventh for the majority of the opening 45 minute stint, ending the practice in ninth. Completing 35 laps across the two sessions, he remains within the top ten overall times and is confident with the progress made so far on his Suzuki machine.
Rising track temperatures - from 29 to 51°C by the afternoon free practice - saw only two riders within the top ten improve on their day’s best times, leaving Lowes in control at the close of play.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki completes the final session of qualifying at 09:45hrs local time tomorrow morning (22:45GMT Friday night) ahead of the afternoon's Superpole at 15:00hrs (04:00GMT).
“The timesheets don’t tell the full story as we still have some work to do in the hotter temperatures. We were fast this morning on the cold track but it in the hot conditions there are some different requirements to make the lap-time. We tried quite a few things this afternoon, we probably also weren’t on the right tyre for the conditions and we still did a decent job, so we just need to continue moving along as we are. We have started well, the circuit is amazing and my GSX-R is just a weapon to ride around here. I’m happy enough, we’ll keep working hard tomorrow and see what it brings – step by step!”
Randy de Puniet:
“It was not easy today with my injury but I think I had a good session, even if I am not satisfied with the position and the speed. We tried different settings today but I have liked the Suzuki since the first day here so the base was always good. Tomorrow I will focus on my lap times and race tyres, because today was more about getting the feeling on the bike and my movement with the injury. Now we will take the next step, of course I still have pain but I hope that each day it will be better, but I’m happy to be here and to focus on the work ahead. As a team we have said the most important thing is to finish both races and collect the points, even if the injury means that we may not quite achieve what I was expecting to before we arrived.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It’s been a very positive start to the 2015 Championship today. Of course being fastest overall is never a bad thing but far more important is the work we got through in both sessions, covering different chassis geometry settings, the three main tyre options and very detailed suspension work. The performance of the bikes is quite heavily affected when the track gets as hot as it did this afternoon so it was good to understand more about the direction for Sunday when it is likely to be warmer again.
“Alex has ridden flawlessly all the way through the test and again today, not pushing to the limits and keeping everything well under control. When a rider is that consistent it really allows the team to make a better job setting the bike because the differences in the settings are much clearer to understand.
“It was great to have Randy back on the bike today, he’s in a significant amount of pain and is probably going to need injections to get him through the rest of the weekend, so to have got into the 31’s and the top ten overall is a great effort and hopefully he’ll be able to take another step forward both physically, and with his potential, tomorrow.”
GINO IMPRESSES ON OPENING DAY OF SEASON
CIA LANDLORDS INSURANCE HONDA’S Gino Rea laid down a strong marker for the weekend by taking third place at the end of Friday practice for the opening day of the 2015 World Supersport season at Phillip Island in Australia.
Gino said: “It is probably a better start than I expected. Today was my first proper test session. Monday was more of a shakedown test with the screw in my foot coming loose and then I missed Tuesday having an operation.
“I am a day behind in testing and the others have come off racing in WSS last year and some with European testing as well. I didn’t expect to be at the sharp end after one day but saying that it is really positive. I am very happy with how I am working with the team and my crew chief. We are starting to get our heads round the CIA Landlords Insurance Honda.
“My riding’s improving and I am enjoying it. My foot is sore and is holding me back where I have to push through the right foot peg. I am getting a bit of pain and having to grit my teeth for a fast lap but I am not on any medication, so that’s a good thing.”
CIA Landlords Insurance racers Riccardo Russo and Martin Cardenas are 14th and 15th respectively. Kieran Clarke on his comeback is 21st and continues to reduce his lap times.
There are further practice and qualification sessions on Saturday and then the race starts at 1310 local time on Sunday 22nd February.
CIA Landlords Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Gino improved all day and is looking good. His foot operation means he is not in perfect condition but we are making some set up changes to accommodate that. He’s in good shape to challenge for pole position.
“Riccardo is struggling a bit and may be trying too hard. We will look at the settings from the test and see why. We will get back on the pace in the morning.
“Martin and Kieran both improved their lap times from the test. Martin is showing he can challenge for a good grid position and Kieran continues to impress after his long lay off from racing. We will work with both of them to go faster.”