Press releases from the series organizers and World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Donington Park:
Sykes in control despite close times at Donington
First day of action in UK decides top-20 riders for Round 6 Tissot-Superpole.
On a day that saw three 45-minute Free Practice sessions for the WorldSBK riders, the final one deciding the 20 riders qualified to tomorrow’s Tissot-Superpole sessions was the most intense as well. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended day one as the fastest rider to lap the 4.023km Donington Park circuit as the top-13 was covered by only 0.953s.
The official Kawasaki rider’s time of 1.28.172 was less than a tenth of a second from his own race lap record set in 2013 and kept the former champion 0.111s ahead of the opposition.
Davide Giugliano crashed his Aruba.it Racing Ducati SBK Team entry moments after moving into second place with three minutes to go, the Italian was able to stay ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who finished third after also improving in the final session of the day.
Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) showed no ill effects of the rib injury from Imola, moving closer to the fastest time in fourth ahead of compatriots Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) who were fifth and sixth, respectively.
Ayrton Badovini kept BMW Motorrad Italia in contention in seventh ahead of Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati).
WorldSBK rookie Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) just missed out on the top ten on his Donington debut day, ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), David Salom (Team Pedercini), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and the youngest rider on the grid Christophe Ponsson (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) who rounded out the top-15.
The final rider to make it into Tissot-Superpole was Santiago Barragan (Grillini SBK Team Kawasaki) who edged Imre Toth (BMW Team Toth) in the final half of FP3 to secure 20th despite an early crash at ‘Goddards’.
Sofuoglu leads WSS field on opening day
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) dominated the opening day of World Supersport action, dipping below the 2013 lap record of Sam Lowes in FP1 to head the field after FP2 by 0.112s.
Behind the Turkish rider who is currently leading this year’s world championship was Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who overcame a difficult morning to move into second. The Frenchman finished ahead of the British pairing of Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Triumph) and Kyle Ryde (Pacedayz European Trackdays Yamaha) who showed incredible pace in both 45-minute sessions to finish third and fourth respectively. For Ryde the result is even more impressive given his age – at 17 he is the youngest ever British WSS wildcard.
American PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) kept himself in contention in fifth ahead of the third British wildcard entered at Donington Park, Andrew Reid. The youngster from Northern Ireland is replacing Ratthapark Wilairot in the CORE Motorsport Thailand team finishing a credible sixth at the end of the opening day.
In a session that saw most riders improve. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres), Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda), Sam Hornsey (Profile Racing Triumph), and Kevin Wahr (SMS Honda) rounded out the top ten.
Progress for Pata Honda at Donington Park
Pata Honda riders Michael van der Mark and Sylvain Guintoli declared themselves happy with progress made during day one of the sixth-round meeting of the 2015 World Superbike championship at Donington Park in the UK today.
With three free practices sessions held today, both riders had a chance to evaluate chassis changes made to their Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.
Dutch ace, van der Mark, 22, set the eighth-fastest combined time today, just 0.5s behind the provisional pole position time set by local British rider Tom Sykes. Guintoli is a further 0.3s behind in twelfth position but the 32-year-old French rider is confident of improvement tomorrow.
Following the morning’s final free practice session, Guintoli will go in Superpole 1 and aim to join van der Mark in Superpole 2 to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s two 23-lap races at the 4.023km Donington Park circuit.
Michael van der Mark - P8 1m28.748s
I’m really happy with the last session this afternoon. To be honest, in the first two sessions today we were really struggling but we were able to improve each time we went out. For the final session today we made a big change to the CBR and I got a good feeling again. I was able to do some consistent lap times with the old tyre and then, at the end, we put in a new tyre to go directly to Superpole 2. Even though there are still many things we can improve, I am really happy with our first day’s work here.
Sylvain Guintoli - P12, 1m29.025s
The feeling with the bike is really quite different with the changes that the team has made but we’re staying with it and we’re working hard on setting up the bike around these changes. I was not feeling good in Imola but here the feeling is much better and there are some particular points on the track where we are losing time. I feel like we can improve in those areas and we’re working on that. The CBR is behaving quite differently and it actually feels better than the lap time suggests. Tomorrow we’ll continue our work to make the bike a consistent front runner so hopefully we can improve that pace and keep moving forward.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
We were quite far behind this morning and had to change the bike quite a bit. But in the final session Michael especially got into a good rhythm and managed to do a few 1m28s laps, including a 28.7s which put him in eighth place. He’s happy with the steps we’ve made and is just 0.5s to the first guy so it’s really close here. It was much the same with Sylvain this morning but we made positive steps and he felt that we moved in a good direction each time. In the end he couldn’t quite get into the 28s but he’s feeling positive. Stopping the bike is still giving him some issues but on throttle and under acceleration he’s quite happy. Most importantly he feels better connected with the bike so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
LEON HASLAM IS FOURTH ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT DONINGTON
WITH 13 RIDERS WITHIN A SECOND OF ONE ANOTHER SBK PROMISES SPARKS
JORDI TORRES IS CLOSE BEHIND, ON THE ENGLISH TRACK FOR THE FIRST TIME
Donington, 22 May 2015 – An atypical Friday, with three timed sessions, kicked off the English World Superbike weekend. At Donington the first timed results leave little open to interpretation: with 13 riders all within one second of one another, we can reasonably expect some tight competition tomorrow and Sunday.
The first question in the team Aprilia Racing – Red Devils garage concerned Leon Haslam's physical condition, with rib pain after his crash at Imola. The English rider, lying second in the championship, is still suffering with pain that, according to him, will not significantly affect his performance. His confidence was confirmed with a nice fourth best time earned today at the end of the three sessions, a promising result although there is still work to be done in order to perfect performance over race distance. Leon also missed a few laps during FP2, stopping prematurely to check the condition of his number 91 RSV4 RF.
Leon Haslam: “I'm pleased with the fourth place. The team did a great job between this morning and this afternoon despite slowing down in FP2. My ribs are bothering me but the Mobile Clinic is following up with me every session where we are deciding what to do in order to keep the problems to a minimum. In FP3 we got very close but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement and I can't help but to be confident. We made the majority of improvements going into turns, in fact in the final part of the last session where I put in my best time. There are some very fast riders and even some new arrivals with respect to the usual familiar faces, so for Sunday we'll need to set up the RSV4 RF to overtake easily in the duels.”
The three close sessions did not help Jordi Torres who, besides trying to squeeze out the best possible performance, must also learn a track that he has never faced before. Whereas at Imola the Spanish rider used the break between Friday and Saturday to collect his thoughts and speak with his mechanics, riding to a podium finish on Sunday, here the apprenticeship must take a different path. A gap of less than 8 tenths of a second doesn't worry Jordi, who feels that he can improve significantly in FP4 tomorrow to then place his cards on the table in Superpole.
Jordi Torres: “It's difficult to do three sessions on the same day on a new circuit. There isn't enough time to gather your thoughts and memorise it. Despite this we did a good job. The bike is working well enough and that helped me not to waste too much time. We're close, but with such tight standings it doesn't take very much at all to make a difference, so tomorrow we'll have to take on Superpole 1. The goal is to get into Superpole 2 and I'd say that the improvement depends 50% on my riding style and 50% on some changes we need to make to the RSV4.”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team gets off to a strong start at Donington Park
Donington Park (UK), Friday 22 May 2015 – The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team made a positive start to proceedings at the Donington Park circuit in the UK today, with riders Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies qualifying second and fifth respectively for tomorrow’s Superpole 2.
In a change to the standard European schedule, all three timed practice sessions took place today. In the opening session, and in dry conditions, Davies and Giugliano started work with their technicians to adapt their Ducati Panigale R bikes to the British track. By the session’s end Giugliano was already lying third (1’29.367) with Welshman Davies in fourth, just 0.01 of a second behind his teammate with a 1’29.377.
Session two saw the Ducati men pick up the pace, with Davide taking a further six tenths of his time to set a 1’28.729 in the initial stages and Chaz doing likewise towards mid-session, setting a best of 1’28.794. These results placed them second and fifth respectively after the first two sessions.
The final timed practice, taking place later in the afternoon, also took place in dry conditions despite threatening grey skies. Despite a small crash in the final minutes, Giugliano made another step forward, recording a fastest time of 1’28.283 that was to remain the overall second quickest time of the day. This meant that the Italian qualified in second place for tomorrow’s all-important Superpole 2. Davies’ also shaved off another couple of tenths in this final phase (1’28.542), and thus qualifies for Superpole 2 in fifth position.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Davide Giugliano - (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34) – 2nd (1’28.283)
“Fortunately the crash was nothing serious – I had to slow more than usual when I came across a rider in front of me and the front locked. Anyway it’s gone ok today; the main thing, as usual here, is that while the first part of the track is very quick, the second part is slow and I’m losing a lot in the slow sections meaning I have to then make that back up through the fast parts. We also still need a little more rear grip but will work on that again tomorrow. Finishing second today is a good result, and it’s also important that I’m not tired; I still have a lot of work to do on my fitness but I’ve worked hard this last week at home and already feel better than I did at Imola.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 5th (1’28.542)
“Today hasn’t gone too badly. In the second session we made some good progress but then we stalled a little perhaps in the final session. All in all we’ve worked quite well but we need to work to find more rear grip, also trying to put as much power to the ground as we can because in certain sections we’re still wheeling too much and having to play with the electronics to solve that. We could also use a little more turning in acceleration out of the slow corners, but we still have tomorrow's sessions in which to improve…”
Superbike Donington Park
The first day of qualifying at the historic Donington Park circuit has concluded positively for Team Althea Racing, with Matteo Baiocco qualifying directly for Superpole 2. Nico Terol is still a little off the pace, suffering as a result of a month away from racing.
A different track schedule today saw the eni FIM Superbike World Championship riders take part in all three timed practice sessions valid for entry to the Superpole. Under the cloudy Leicestershire skies, Matteo Baiocco put in a good performance and gained direct access to Superpole 2. The riders were all very close in terms of lap times and despite being only 0.615 of a second from the leader, Matteo concluded in tenth position. The three sessions and the hard work carried out in the garage allowed the team to prepare a competitive bike for tomorrow’s sessions, which consist of only a free practice and then the Superpole 2 that establishes positions on the first four rows of the race grid.
A difficult day however for Nico Terol who returns to his Ducati Panigale R after a month’s break. The Spaniard was facing a tough day, with three sessions in the space of just a few hours, and after the first laps the pain in his wrist became apparent. The fracture to his right radius, not yet healed, complicated the sessions for Nico but he gritted his teeth and completed all three, closing in eighteenth position, a result which unfortunately reflects his current physical condition. Tomorrow Terol will therefore take part in Superpole 1.
Lowes in top six for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki at home
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes started his home World Superbike race weekend in stellar form completing today’s three timed sessions at the UK’s Donington Park in sixth position.
A difficult start to Friday’s revised schedule saw the Derby-based racer set only 20 laps across the first two 45-minute sessions, due to the continuing electronics development to his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R, but despite this, and a low-side crash in the closing minutes of free practice two, Lowes’ 1’29.0 was still enough to keep him comfortably in the top ten, with the seventh fastest time. Returning to the track for the final timed session late this afternoon, the improvements made were evident during the 18 laps completed, just one tenth separating Lowes from third – and 0.4 from provisional pole – at the close of play.
Randy de Puniet’s development with the Suzuki Superbike also took a dramatic step at the team’s home track, with the Frenchman completing the opening day just a second from the fastest time. His confidence with the GSX-R1000’s new control system growing, de Puniet executed 48 laps to finish the day in 14th and positive of more to come ahead of tomorrow’s Superpole.
While the British clouds threatened rain, the track remained dry with ambient temperatures of 19°C heating the track to a comfortable 30°C by the afternoon. Last year’s victor, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, defended his position from the outset claiming the fastest time in two of the three sessions on his way to the day’s provisional pole.
Lowes and de Puniet return to Donington Park for the final, non-timed, free practice at 09:30BST tomorrow morning before an earlier-than-usual Superpole, scheduled for Midday.
“We’ve improved in every session and improved every time we’ve changed the bike today, and while it’s still a work in progress, the lads are doing a great job. It’s really, really nice to be riding at Donington, I’m enjoying it a lot and I feel like I’m riding pretty well. I feel like we should be able to improve more compared to the rest – it doesn’t always work like that and with how the last few races have gone for us we just need to have a couple of consistent finishes – but I’m riding the bike well and we are making steps in the right direction. So I’m quite optimistic about tomorrow and hoping we can achieve a couple of good races on Sunday.”
Randy de Puniet:
“It was a positive first day at Donington. This morning we struggled with the same problem from the previous races but having the three sessions today was good for us. The step wasn’t big between the first and second sessions, but it was in the right direction – improving the engine brake but not the traction control or connection issues. In the last session we also improved the traction control so now the connection is the critical focus for me. The bike is not perfect yet but now we can continue to focus on improving this. I am only one second slower than the pole position so it is a big improvement and I really hope that during FP4 we can find some more tenths so I can get the jump into Superpole 2 and try for two good races.”
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
“It’s not a surprise that it’s been another challenging Friday and the team is in general quite jaded after many more late nights and more track testing this week. That said, we are making progress and the bike is now reacting to setting changes in a more normal and predictable way. This means we are able to start thinking about setting the bike up to race rather than just to function. Alex did very few laps in FP1 and FP2 due to electronics related durability problems, but we got it right in FP3 and considering the lack of laps and chassis setting work we have been able to do today, sixth place and so close to the best time is a brilliant effort.
“Randy has gone through a very difficult patch and had lost some confidence, but a good test on the Suzuki MotoGP™ bike in Le Mans on Monday and being able to use some of the improvements we have found here today at Donington, has seen a significantly better performance. 14th position may not seem exciting but a gap of only one second to P1 is a huge step forward and we hope to continue in this direction.”
Learning day for Smith at Donington
Kyle Smith set the eleventh fastest combined time in today’s two free practice sessions for round six of the 2015 World Supersport championship at Donington Park in the UK.
Despite having been born in Huddersfield in Yorkshire, Smith moved to Spain at the age of six and has never raced in the UK before and today was his first visit to the 4.023km Donington Park circuit.
The 22-year-old made steady progress in both sessions on his Pata Honda CBR600RR and, with an ideal time some 0.6s faster than his best lap today, he is confident of further progress in tomorrow morning’s third free practice session ahead of afternoon qualifying.
Kyle Smith - P11, 1m32.186s
To be honest I like Donington but I’m struggling a bit. Mostly because there’s four wildcards in front of me who all know the track really well! I’ve never been here before but I’ve improved a lot since this morning. I’m enjoying riding but I’m just not happy with my position. People have said I’ve learned new tracks well this year, but at Phillip Island I had two days testing before the race weekend. Thailand was also a new track but it was new for everybody. This is a new track for me but my ideal time was up there – I just didn’t put one quick lap together. I might be a little bit off today but we’ve got two more sessions before Sunday, plus warm-up, so it should be good!
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
It took Kyle a bit of time to get used to the track so we stuck with the base settings until he got up to speed. The CBR was a little bit heavy to change direction so for his last outing we lifted it a bit front and rear. In the end he was 11th but he’s still learning to be honest. His ideal time is more than half a second faster so I think he’s made good progress during the day.
Friday's Words & Pictures
Tom Sykes #66 - Kawasaki Racing Team
Combined Free Practice 1, 2 and 3 - 1st
Facebook page: Tom-Sykes-66
“We had an average day, we still have some limitations and we need to improve the feel of the bike. We put a couple of good laps in but we still need to do more tomorrow. Being so close to my lap record is good news but me and Marcel need to sit down tonight to find some more speed. I’m still adjusting my riding style but from here on in it looks like we might be able to be as consistent as we were in Imola.”
Davide Giugliano #34 - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati SBK
Combined Free Practice 1, 2 and 3 - 2nd
Facebook Page: Davide-Giugliano
“Fortunately, the crash was nothing major. I had to brake more than usual due to a rider who was in front of me and I tucked the front. Apart from that it was a good day, although we always struggle a bit here due to the opposite natures of the two halves of the track. I lose a lot of time in the final split and thus need to make up some ground in the fast section. Overall, second place is not bad at all, my physical condition is still far from ideal but I already feel much better than at Imola.”
Jonathan Rea #65 - Kawasaki Racing Team
Combined Free Practice 1, 2 and 3 - 3rd
“I honestly didn’t have a good feeling today and we still need to find a little bit extra from the bike. The weather looked like it was going to threaten later in the day but I’m pleased it stayed dry. We need it to be constant for the rest of the weekend as we have some work to do. The first and last sectors are good for us but we need to work on the middle part of the circuit as I’m weak there at the moment.”