Press releases from the organizers and some of the teams after the first day of practice at the Chang, Thailand round of World Superbikes:
Lowes snatches first place from Rea on opening day in Thailand
After the second Free Practice session - held in temperatures nudging 39 degrees Celsius - the man at the head of the combined WorldSBK timesheets on the opening day of on-track action at the Chang International Circuit was Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki). The 24-year-old Englishman was the first rider to break the 1’35 barrier to record a 1’34.685s lap time with four minutes to go this afternoon.
As he was edged out of first place after dominating the morning session, long-time leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) tried hard to retake the top spot, closing to within 0.066s of his fellow Briton with his final lap, the pair comfortably ahead of the chasing pack.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team), Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike) rounded out a top six that saw five manufacturers represented and separated by less than a second.
The remaining top-ten riders in the overall standings were Troy Bayliss (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team), Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati), Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki).
The reigning and former FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup winner Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) were locked together in 11th and 14th respectively after two encouraging sessions. The pair were split by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda WSBK Team) and Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) with former 125cc GP World Champion Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) in 15th place.
After suffering a technical problem with both machines in FP1, Niccolo Canepa and Larry Pegram (Team Hero EBR) were able to take part in the afternoon timed period, completing the opening day in 18th and 23rd.
The final Free Practice session that will decide the Tissot-Superpole qualifiers is scheduled to take place at 9.45am local time.
Guintoli in the mix at Buriram
Sylvain Guintoli was sixth fastest on overall times after today’s practices for round two of the 2015 World Superbike championship at the Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand.
The reigning world champion made a change to his Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP after this morning’s extended FP1 at the 4.554km Buriram circuit which is hosting a WSBK event for the first time. The 32-year-old French rider went almost one second faster in temperatures of 36°C this afternoon, closing the gap on the morning's fastest rider Jonathan Rea.
With British rider Alex Lowes setting the pace this afternoon, Guintoli’s Pata Honda team-mate Michael van der Mark was unable to improve his lap time in the hotter conditions and, despite feeling good on the bike, remained in 12th place on combined times.
However, the 22-year-old Dutch World Superbike rookie is confident that he and his team can identify specific areas for improvement in tomorrow’s two practice sessions ahead of the afternoon Superpole which will finalise grid places for Sunday’s two 20-lap races at Buriram.
Sylvain Guintoli - P6, 1m35.570s
We made some good improvements after the morning session so that was a positive this afternoon and the bike felt much better. We need to carry on working there but I’m enjoying the track and we’ve closed the gap. I’m trying hard now and feeling a lot better physically than I did in Australia. That’s the main thing from today, so that’s nice because I suffered a lot in Phillip Island. I can still feel the injury but it’s a lot better and I’m a lot more focused and more hungry here. We can’t do damage limitation every race so we need to try to step it up a bit now. It was funny this afternoon because I was supposed to come in to try some different tyres but, as I was coming into pit lane I was thinking about the lines through sector three and missed my garage entry! I went st raight out again and saw that the session was nearly finished, so there wasn’t much point coming in for new tyres. So, although I didn’t plan it, I ended up doing the whole session on one set of tyres. We’ll try the soft option tomorrow!
Michael van der Mark - P12, 1m36.218s
There was no real problem today and it’s strange because I felt good with the bike on this new track, but the lap time is not there, which is a bit frustrating. I’m sure the guys will find something on the data tonight so I’m not too worried. I’m losing a lot of time in the second sector so we’ll check everything later to find out what it was. I rode the laps, feeling good on the bike in the heat, but each time I crossed the line I was like ‘Where’s the lap time?’ I think a good night’s sleep will help me relax for tomorrow. It’s an interesting track because the first part is long and fast and the second is a combination of smaller corners, but we’ll work hard tonight to try and go a little faster around it tomorrow.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Sylvain is in much better physical condition than he was in Phillip Island and this is helping. But we struggled a little in sector two with both riders and kept changing the bike, continuing in to the afternoon session. Sylvain was able to improve and was running second at one point which was a good step. At the end of the day it’s looking a lot better than Australia - there’s room for improvement sure, but it’s not so bad. Michael struggled a little in sector two this morning and that continued this afternoon. We’ll look into everything in details a bit later but I’m quite sure there’s better things to come tomorrow.
Smith fastest on opening Supersport day in Thailand
Pata Honda’s Kyle Smith set the fastest combined time following today’s two opening free practice sessions for round two of the 2015 World Supersport championship at Buriram in Thailand.
With an extended Free Practice 1 to get accustomed to the new 4.554km facility 400km north-east of Bangkok, Smith finished second fastest this morning on his Pata Honda CBR600RR before upping the pace in the afternoon session.
With ambient temperatures of 36 C and a track temperature approaching 60°C, the 23-year-old British rider went 0.4s faster than his opening effort and finished 0.3s ahead of second placed Patrick Jacobsen.
The World Supersport riders have another practice session tomorrow morning before the afternoon’s qualifying session which will determine the final grid positions for Sunday’s 18-lap second-round race.
Kyle Smith - P1, 1m38.490s
It’s been a really good day and I’m very happy to be fastest after the first day of practice at a new track. It’s been really hot again today but I’m handling it OK and after the first practice this morning we made a couple of small changes to the bike for the afternoon session. It made a big improvement and the lap times seemed to come, so I hope we can keep it up for the rest of the weekend. It’s a track where the harder you push the harder it becomes to get the lap time and there were a couple of times I came round and, although I was really pushing, I was going faster. There are one or two technical sections and it’ll be interesting to see how qualifying goes because sometimes the lap doesn’t come from pushing. I really like turn 10 on the back section of the track and had so me fun geting a bit sideways there at the end of the session when the tyre was finished, but it’s all good!
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
From Kyle’s first few laps on the track he was immediately fast which simply confirmed that, after his impressive start in Phillip Island, he can learn new tracks quickly. This afternoon, when track conditions were worse, we made a couple of really minor changes but it worked out really well, together with some better tyres. Kyle was feeling comfortable and got into a good rhythm to put in some really fast laps that nobody could really match, so it’s been a good start for him and his team.
Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team) in third place at end of today’s SBK track action in Buriram; Bayliss seventh
Buriram (Thailand), Friday 20 March 2015 – The first ever World Superbike event to take place in Thailand got underway this morning at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team, on track with Chaz Davies and Troy Bayliss, took part in the first two timed practice sessions of the weekend in extremely hot temperatures which rose to 36°C (with a track temperature of 57°C) during the day.
This morning both Chaz and Troy started to get to grips with this brand new track, making the most of an extended opening session, 75 minutes in length. Chaz was immediately fast, right from his first exit, recording a 1’36.054 that positioned him at the top of the timesheets for a good part of the session. A small crash for the Welshman at Turn 3, thirty minutes from the session’s end, fortunately did not prevent the factory rider from continuing and, thanks to the fast lap recorded in the initial stages, Davies concluded the session in fourth place. Troy, making several changes during the practice, made good progress during the session, gradually improving on his lap times. Working calmly and systematically with his technicians on his Panigale R, he was able to make a good step forward in the closing minutes, to finish with a best time of 1’36.909 which positioned him fourteenth.
In the second timed practice, which took place on a much hotter track compared to the morning, both Chaz and Troy were immediately able to improve on their best times of the morning. Chaz recorded a 1’35.642 but later went a few tenths quicker to set a best of 1’35.288 which positioned him third at the end of day one. Troy, continuing to make changes with the team during the afternoon, improved on his earlier time by 1.3 seconds, to close in overall seventh position with a fastest time of 1’35.690.
The Superbikes will be back on track tomorrow for the final timed practice, free practice and the Superpole sessions.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 3rd (1’35.288)
“I’m not particularly happy actually, as I feel I’m missing the right flow with the bike. It’s working well in some places but in certain areas, particularly concerning the front, I’d like more confidence, as I don’t really understand where the limit is at the front. It’s good to be near the front of course, but I’d rather be there with everything feeling right. I had a little crash this morning - I was late on the brakes, quite tight and I think it was a little dirty there on the track but anyway, I wasn’t hurt and the bike was more or less ok..."
Troy Bayliss - (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #21) – 7th (1’35.690)
“We had a few little dramas this morning that meant that it took us a little while to get going. I was feeling ok but nothing really special in the first practice but I knew we’d be able to more this afternoon on the softer tyre and I was right, able to go immediately quicker. Then we made a change mid-session, a change that also used to help us in the past, and I was able to make some quick laps, with my fastest lap coming on a tyre that had done 13 laps. So I’m really happy now, when I got off the bike I felt like I did seven years ago…”
A GOOD FIRST DAY FOR THE APRILIA RIDERS ON THE BRAND NEW BURIRAM THAI TRACK
LOTS OF WORK ON RACE PREPARATION FOR LEON HASLAM, JORDI TORRES TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT SYNERGY WITH THE POWERFUL RSV4
Buriram (Thailand), 20 March 2015 – It was a positive start for the Aprilia Racing – Red Devils Team on the new Buriram Thai circuit, the first time ever for this track on the WSBK Calendar. The track proved to be quite fast, with an average exceeding 170 kph, and especially demanding due to the high temperatures.
English rider Leon Haslam, leading the championship standings after his win at the Phillip Island opening round, took on the first 75 minute session using only one tyre on the rear, a hard blend, and working hard to adapt his RSV4 to this brand new track. In these phases gathering data and finding the optimum setup on all levels is essential since the only information available comes from simulations. Even in the afternoon Leon was not too concerned about performance on a flying lap, applying the same strategy that proved successful in Australia and focusing on race pace. The leader in the championship standings finished the day with the fourth best combined time from the two sessions and is well aware that there is plenty of room for improvement tomorrow.
Leon Haslam: “It was a good start. Since this is a new circuit we started with the basics. This morning there wasn't a lot of grip on the track. I used only one tyre for the entire session and in any case I was quite fast. I did the same in the afternoon. We're working the same way we did at Phillip Island, focusing on race performance and the setup on the RSV4. I think there is still room for improvement in a few areas like coming out of turns, which will let us take better advantage of the straight stretches. The track will also improve in terms of grip so times will drop even further.”
For rookie Jordi Torres it wasn't hard to learn the new track, but the important thing for him is still adapting his riding style to the characteristics of the RSV4. The Spaniard is improving lap by lap and his feeling in the new category is growing. He has a clear idea of which aspects he needs to concentrate his efforts on. He finished the day with the ninth best combined time after putting the third best time on the sheets in the first session.
Jordi Torres: “The circuit is really nice and I found it quite easy to learn. There are a few hard braking sections, one of the things I need to improve with this bike in terms of riding style. The same thing happened in Australia and it is an important point that I need to work on because braking late means closing the line better and coming out faster. Precisely for this reason we focused on the front so it can give me more feeling and let me "feel" the bike. We need to stay focused because the competition is fierce. I can't afford to lose contact with the front runners.”
Buriram (Thailand), 20 March 2015
For the first time in the history of the World Superbikes, the championship and all of its teams are in Thailand, in Buriram, for round 2 of the 2015 season. A brand new track for all of the riders and also difficult physical and mental conditions due to the very high temperatures in the Asian country.
Team Althea Racing, with its riders Nico Terol and Matteo Baiocco, have started Friday’s sessions knowing that they have a lot of work to do to find the right set-up, with no previous references available.
Very high temperatures right from early on this morning (36° air temperature and 50° track), with riders starting the first session somewhat cautiously. Both Nico and Matteo, after some initial laps to get to grips with the layout, began to give the team some useful feedback in order to move forward with set-up work. Morning qualifying was today extended to 75 minutes, rather than the usual 45 minutes, to give teams a chance to understand the new track. The Althea riders closed the morning session in 13th position with Nico Terol (1’36.733) and 16th place with Matteo Baiocco (1’37.006).
Nico was particularly affected by the heat, suffering stomach pains after the morning session. The riders began the afternoon session with some more data at their disposal. Rising temperatures, close to 40°C, and track temperatures of over 50°C did not facilitate matters but thanks to intense work in the garage, times began to drop and on his very last lap Matteo moved up to eighth position (1’35.913) closing day one at Chang International Circuit in a positive way. Nico was a little further behind, conditioned by the fact he was not feeling 100% but he improved his time and concluded in fourteenth position (1’36.931), with more solutions to try tomorrow in order to try and find the right feeling both with his Ducati and the Asian track.
Matteo Baiocco: “I’m pleased because all day we’ve seen that we can be inside the top eight in terms of lap times. We’ve worked a lot with the hard tyres and then in the final minutes I was able to make a good time with the soft tyre. Tomorrow we’ll start from where we leave off today but we’re working in the right direction in order to improve performance. I really like the track, it’s just a pity that it’s so very hot, I’m struggling a bit with that but all in all I’m feeling positive.”
Nico Terol: “We’ve completed day one in Thailand but I thought I would immediately get to grips with the track. Instead I’ve had a little trouble. We started well this morning with some good initial laps but we didn’t finish the morning as I’d have hoped. In the afternoon I was getting on better with the bike and was able to improve a little with the used tyre. Tomorrow we have more references to work with, so I hope to be able to improve further and prepare as well as possible for the races.”
Lowes learns fast to take provisional pole for Suzuki in Thailand
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes stormed to the fastest overall time in the World Superbike Championship’s inaugural practice at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand today.
Meaning business from the start, Lowes got his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R up-to-speed quickly at the new Buriram track. Claiming second with his initial laps, a technical delay to his exploratory opening practice did little to dampen his speed. Returning to the track with 35 minutes remaining of the extended 75-minute session, the British racer’s times continued to improve as his familiarity grew, concluding the morning in fifth.
A similarly quick start to his afternoon saw Lowes improve again with his second and third timed-laps, sitting in fourth for the majority of the session as he continued his development. Three consecutive fast laps aboard his Suzuki machine with five minutes of the day’s track action remaining, ensured he clinched the fastest overall time to claim WSBK’s debut provisional pole at the new circuit.
Randy de Puniet’s introduction to the Thai track wasn’t quite as smooth, with engine-brake complications interrupting his study of the unknown layout. As track temperatures rose steadily to 57°C the Frenchman continued his investigation, completing 37 laps as he expanded his knowledge of the GSX-R1000 and the Buriram circuit to finish the day in 13th with a 1’36.263.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s final timed-for-qualifying practice will take place at 09:45hrs local time (02:45GMT) tomorrow morning ahead of the afternoon's grid-deciding Superpole at 15:00hrs (08:00GMT).
“Today has been good! It’s always nice to come to a new track, to learn the layout and try to understand the challenges of each corner. I really like the mid-section – you have to be quite physical on the bike which suits my style quite a bit. It’s been a good day, we’ve worked hard and I’ve done a lot of laps, completing two ten-lap runs in the last session, but it’s only Friday and the times are going to get a lot quicker so we’ll see what happens. The heat is obviously hard for everyone, and it’s going to be tough on the tyres but I’m enjoying it! I enjoyed it in Australia even though we didn’t get the results we deserved and I’m enjoying it again here. Thanks to the lads for working really hard, I’ll keep trying and see if I can get some good results on Sunday.”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m not that happy with the first day here as I struggled quite a bit. This morning we had an issue with the brake feeling so it was difficult to stop the bike, we fixed this but I had another issue with the setting this afternoon so it was difficult for me to be consistent with my laps, which is why the position is not as good. If we fix these two problems it will be much, much better but for now it is difficult for me to learn the new track and understand the GSX-R. Tomorrow I hope to fix the issues and concentrate on my riding style and improve the overall performance ready for the races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“I think everybody in the World Superbike Championship is impressed with the Chang International Circuit and the facilities that the Thai organisers have provided. They can’t control the weather, which is incredibly hot, but everything else is very easy to work with – very friendly people, organisers and hopefully a big crowd on Sunday. We have had a reasonably tough start to the weekend in general but Alex‘s reaction to the problems we had this morning, keeping calm and working through the issues step-by-step, paid dividends this afternoon with a very strong and very consistent performance. We clearly had lots of potential in Phillip Island and weren’t able to capitalise so it’s great to see Alex and the GSX-R very much on the pace at a more stop-go circuit.
“Randy hasn’t gelled with the new track quite as well, in particular some engine-brake setting and actual braking-power problems have made it difficult to be consistent and to be as confident as you need to be here, slowing the bike from very high speeds. Luckily the gap to the top six is not huge and if we can resolve those issues this evening we expect to be able to help Randy to go a lot better tomorrow.”
Gino in touch at Chang
Fri, 20 Mar 2015
CIA LANDLORDS INSURANCE HONDA’S Gino Rea is sixth, with Martin Cardenas ninth, in a strong start to the second round of the World Supersport Championship at the new Chang International circuit in Thailand.
Gino said: “The circuit is fast and not really difficult to learn. I was a bit frustrated after the first session as I messed up some laps and didn’t get the bike setting right. In the second session we made changes but that didn’t go the way we wanted. We did the best we could with what we had in the bike and I was able to improve. The gap to the front is small and I am confident once we make the right set up change we can challenge at the top of the timesheets.”
Martin set his fastest time in the morning session when he finished seventh. He dropped to ninth in the afternoon but is showing consistent times that give him a good platform to build from.
Riccardo Russo ended the day 11th after making a big improvement between sessions. Kieran Clarke took more than a second from his morning lap time and is 23rd.
There is another practice session followed by qualification tomorrow before the race starts at 1430 local time on Sunday 22nd March.
CIA Landlords Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster, said: “Gino didn’t get the best out of his last tyre and is looking at some gearing changes for tomorrow to improve.
“Martin is going well and he will benefit from the gearing changes we are considering as well.
“Ricky struggled in the morning but got it together in the afternoon. His time has pulled right in and he is in good shape.
“Kieran has improved but has more work to do to get close to the group in front. He wants to qualify in the top 20 and then look for points in the race.”