Press releases from the teams and series organizers after qualifying at Sepang:
Tom Sykes claims Malaysian Tissot-Superpole
Torres and Guintoli on front row, Rea to start from seventh place on the grid.
Tom Sykes (GBR) will head the grid on a WorldSBK race day for the 28th time
The tenth Tissot-Superpole of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship season was claimed in emphatic style by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) after a tense Superpole 2 in 34 degrees heat at the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit.
By clocking in 2’03.240s, the fastest lap of the weekend so far, the British rider notched up his 28th career WorldSBK Pole Position and the fourth this year.
Alongside Sykes on the front row will be Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), who claimed a second successive front row start after Laguna Seca and Sylvain Guintoli, who is back on the front row for the first time after joining the Pata Honda team.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) improved with his final lap to claim fourth place, ahead of Lowes and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team).
Row three of the grid comprises series leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who seemed well on course to a potential pole position lap in the final stages before a mistake a Turn 9, Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing)
The fourth row will see Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing) and Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), while the previously declared unfit Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), technically in twelfth place despite being ruled out of Superpole 2 after his FP4 crash, will not be on track at all tomorrow for the two WorldSBK races. His spot on the grid will be taken by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike), who failed to make it through Superpole 1 despite the steps forward shown in the last free practice session.
WorldSBK Sepang - Tissot-Superpole
1 - Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team 2'03.240
2 - Jordi Torres Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils +0.270
3 - Sylvain Guintoli Pata Honda World Superbike +0.596
Davies and the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team qualify sixth for the SBK races at Sepang
Sepang (Malaysia), Saturday 1 August 2015 – The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team and its rider Chaz Davies were back on track at the Sepang International Circuit today for the final timed practice and all-important Superpole, qualifying in sixth place for tomorrow’s two Superbike races.
In dry conditions (air temperature 28°C, track 33°C), the Italian squad took part in the morning’s third and final timed practice, with the aim to improve rear grip in particular. Davies worked with his technicians to make some changes throughout the 45-minute session, concentrating on set-up, on optimizing rear grip and testing the new rear tyres brought by Pirelli. Although he did not improve on his best time set yesterday, the Welshman closed in overall sixth position, which guaranteed him direct entry to the second Superpole session.
In the free practice session Chaz was the victim of a small crash at turn 9; although unhurt, it caused him to lose 15 minutes of this 30-minute session, missing out on the opportunity to test final changes made to the bike ahead of the Superpole.
Superpole 2: having completed one lap with the race tyre, Davies returned to the track to make two laps using the qualifying solution. The Welshman did what he could to qualify inside the front two rows of the grid and, despite not having found the right feeling with the bike, he was able to stop the clocl on 2’04.179, closing the session in overall sixth position. Chaz will thus line up on row 2 of the grid for tomorrow’s two 16-lap races, with his technicians set to continue working on the bike this evening in order to give their rider the best chances of completing two good races.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 6th (2’04.179)
“After a positive day yesterday, today we’ve had more trouble and I don’t exactly know why. I admit I didn’t do the best job with the qualifying tyre in the Superpole but I had no feeling so it was difficult to push. When the track temperature rises it seems that I can’t get the bike to dig in and I can’t find the grip I need. The electronics work overtime to try and find me some grip but this then affects me in terms of speed and acceleration out of the corners. Tomorrow’s races will be very difficult, we’ll try to find something more this evening and in morning warmup…”
Sepang (Malaysia), 1 August 2015
Today’s qualifying sessions at the Sepang International Circuit concluded positively for Team Althea riders Niccolò Canepa and Matteo Baiocco, who will start tomorrow’s races from ninth and tenth place respectively.
After yesterday afternoon’s session, conditioned by rain that prevented riders from taking to the track in dry conditions, today’s weather was favourable and during morning practice, valid for entry to the Superpole, work in the Althea garage was incessant and fruitful. Niccolò Canepa, after the problems encountered during Friday’s opening session, was able to work with his team to find the right set-up and the right feeling with his Ducati Panigale R, allowing him to gain direct access to Superpole 2 with a time of 2'05.395. He concluded the Superpole in ninth place and will therefore line up on the third row of the race grid.
Matteo Baiocco also made good use of the 45-minute session, having been unable to use yesterday afternoon’s to increase his feeling with what it for him a new track. Today he made rapid progress and was able to drop his lap time to 2’05.757, improving significantly on yesterday’s performance. Baiocco had to deal with Superpole 1 but he put together a perfect lap with the qualifying tyre and by recording the fastest overall time he gained access to Superpole 2. In that second session he closed in overall tenth place, demonstrating good race pace.
Tomorrow’s two 16-lap Superbike races will begin at 1.30pm and 4.30pm local time (CET+6)
Niccolò Canepa: “Today has been a positive day and we’ve improved a lot compared to yesterday. We’ve moved in the right direction and I’m happy about this. I’m a little disappointed with the flying lap made on the qualifying tyre because I was making a fast lap but then lost the front a couple of times, losing precious time. Without that I could have been starting a little further forward. Anyway I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s races.”
Matteo Baiocco: “I’m very pleased with how Superpole went as I made a really good lap with the qualifier but have also set good times on the race tyre. In Superpole 2 I made a few small errors and was unable to do as I’d done in SP1 but overall I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made and I’m confident ahead of tomorrow’s races.”
Superpole Win For Sykes With Rea Seventh
Tom Sykes (KRT) took his 28th career pole position today with a 2’03.240 lap that gives him the best possible starting place for Sunday’s two WorldSBK races at Sepang. Championship leader Jonathan Rea (KRT) was seventh in Superpole and now starts the 16-lap races from the third row of the grid.
In a very open Superpole 2 session that saw several manufacturers competing for the pre-race advantage Sykes and his official Ninja ZX-10R came out on top after he made the best use of his qualifying set-up close to the end of the 15-minute session.
Already second in the all-time Superpole winners’ rankings, Sykes put it all together again after a sometimes challenging period of practice, in which he and his team-mate Rea lost a full practice session due to a fall of heavy rain shortly before the second period of track action on Friday afternoon. Sykes is now confident that his team has found a strong race pace in readiness for Sunday, at what is one of Tom’s favourite circuits.
Concentrating on race pace and tyre life on day two Rea was on course for a front row start in Superpole 2, after fitting a qualifying rear tyre. Finding a false neutral entering Turn 9 he lost vital time that it was not possible to claw back. Despite starting from the third row the wide and open nature of the Sepang circuit should help him in the task of passing other riders, to make sure he is in a good position approaching the final few laps.
Rea feels he has made the correct preparations to be strong at the end of each race, and if results go his way he has a mathematical chance to wrap up the championship itself tomorrow.
Tom Sykes stated: “I had a great start to the weekend as my wife had just given birth to a baby daughter. On track we were a little bit behind to start with as we had a big schedule of work this weekend and had to compromise on it because of the session we missed yesterday in the rain. That is the same for everybody so overall I am relatively happy. We did what we wanted for Superpole and did what we wanted to do in Free Practice 4. The bike settings came good and I was really happy for that. In FP3 we stayed on a harder tyre all session just to evaluate some things and we almost got caught out. On paper seventh at that point may have looked bad, but in reality it was not the case and we moved back up the order. I think tomorrow will be interesting and we do not look in bad shape, so I am relatively confident. The weather may be a bit hit and miss but we are set-up now for dry conditions.”
Jonathan Rea stated: “During Superpole, in Turn 9, when I shifted to first gear I found neutral. I could not stop the bike and it was really difficult to engage first gear. In the end I blipped the throttle and found it but there was a big reaction from the bike and I went wide. That ruined my best lap there. I pushed really hard to recover the time and had another little moment in the last corner. It was difficult because we had the pace to be on the front row. Even my ideal time, if you take the race tyre sector into account, is third fastest, so I am a little bit frustrated because it makes the races a little bit harder tomorrow. Not impossible, but harder. My guys have still given me a good bike with the limited amount of time we have had in the dry. My riding style and where the setting of the bike has gone this weekend means I am feeling very confident that we can have at least some tyre left at the end compared to our rivals. I expect to finish the race strongly but it is going to be difficult in the first laps. Not as difficult as Laguna because this track presents a lot more passing opportunities.”
David Salom (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) was unable to make it out of Superpole 1 and into Superpole 2 and he now starts the races from 17th place. Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) is one row ahead, thanks to his 15th place qualifying performance in Superpole 1.
Strong qualifying performance at Sepang for Lowes and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes rode a thrilling World Superbike Superpole contest to take fifth place at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this afternoon.
A challenging morning had left Lowes out of the top-ten, with a turn four crash in the third free practice, but as the asphalt temperatures rose to almost 50°C for Superpole 1, the British racer set out determined to advance with his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R. His early appearance on the qualifier comfortably saw him into the second session with a 2’04.4 – six tenths clear of the next rider – while his SP2 performance improved his lap-time to 2’04.018, lining him up on the second row of the grid – just behind Aprilia’s returning double World Champion Max Biaggi – for tomorrow’s races.
An exceptional start to Saturday saw Randy de Puniet secure his first direct qualification into Superpole 2 aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000, setting a 2’04.8 lap on race tyres to take fourth in the final timed free practice, the dry but cool (for Malaysian standards) 28°C having only warmed the track to a manageable 33°C for the opening 45-minutes. Struggling for tyre grip as the temperatures soared, the Frenchman was unable to match his earlier time on the qualifying rubber but continues his improvement with a season’s best, claiming 11th and a fourth row start with his 2’05.100 lap.
With the expected rains failing to materialise, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes reaffirmed his Superpole dominance with a 2’03.240. However, the threat remains in the air promising to provide further drama as Voltcom Crescent Suzuki return to the Sepang track for tomorrow’s two 16-lap races, scheduled to start at 13:30 and 16:30hrs local time (06:30 and 09:30BST).
“Not a great morning as I made two mistakes - I don’t know maybe I just got out of bed on the wrong side! Maybe it was the best thing though as it made me refocus for the FP4 and we did a good job. We realised where we had some issues with the bike, tried to make changes for qualifying and it did feel a lot better. I did a solid job in both sessions and my race tyre laps were ok, so if we can try something a bit more in that direction for tomorrow’s warm up it will be good. It’s going to be a tough couple of races, the front tyre seems to drop off after about four laps and it becomes quite difficult. Riding in this heat is still quite new for me and I’m still trying to understand the best way to ride, but it was good, I enjoyed it and if I can do two solid races tomorrow I’ll be happy! To be on the second row for Suzuki – after what, for me, has been a really long time away – is great, my focus still feels good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Thanks to the team – sorry for the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ act this morning! – they did a good job today, we will try to improve a couple of steps for the morning and have two good races.”
Randy de Puniet:
“This morning in FP3 was perfect because I was third in the session. This afternoon in FP4 I started to struggle in the heat as the track temperatures were almost 20 degrees higher, we tried some adjustments but I continued to struggle in Superpole as the conditions were the same. I had a lot of movement with the front and I couldn’t ride as I had been this morning, and the qualifier had no grip in comparison to this morning’s race tyre, so I was three-tenths slower which I was disappointed with. We need to work tonight to try to improve the bike and I need to maybe change my riding style as the races will be in these conditions. It will be two hard races tomorrow but I would really like to find the same feeling I have had for the past two mornings, because I was good on the bike, fast and I enjoyed riding, so we will work tonight to find this step.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Another very strong qualifying performance by Alex today, missing out on the front row by less than 0.2 We struggled a lot in FP3 to achieve the right balance in the bike and in terms of improving performance got nothing done in that session, so that set us back a little bit, but the team, and Alex himself, recovered very nicely.
“On Randy’s side, following on from Laguna, it has been a consistently strong performance this weekend, particularly in FP3 when Randy achieved a high 2’04 on race tyres and put himself into fourth position overall before Superpole. He rode well in Superpole but unfortunately couldn’t replicate the earlier form but hopefully with some help from his team can find some small improvements for tomorrow.
“For both riders it’s two long races tomorrow, particularly in this humidity, and in terms of challenging for a decent position, consistency is the key rather than outright pace.”
Sepang front row for Sylvain Guintoli
Pata Honda rider Sylvain Guintoli will start tomorrow’s two tenth-round World Superbike championship races from the front row of the grid after setting the third fastest time on his Honda CBR1000RR Firelbade SP in this afternoon’s Superpole at Sepang in Malaysia.
Qualfying directly for Superpole 2 after Free Practice 3, in which he was fifth fastest, French ace Guintoli, 33, held the top spot for much of the session on qualifying rubber before slipping to third place behind Jordi Torres and pole position man Tom Sykes.
Guintoli’s Pata Honda team-mate Michael van der Mark will start the two 16-lap races at the 5.543km Sepang circuit from the fourth row of the grid, having been 12th fastest overall in this afternoon’s Superpole sessions.
The 22-year-old Dutch rider took good form and confidence into Superpole 1 after setting the third fastest time in Free Practice 4 but was unable to maximize the additional grip offered by his Pirelli qualifying rubber.
Sylvain Guintoli - P3, 2m03.836s
It feels like we’ve found some outright pace, especially on new tyres, and we’ve also been able to compensate a little for a lack of speed that we’ve suffered from here. The qualifying tyre made a big difference for me but there’s more to it than that technical stuff, which can get a bit boring sometimes! For us, even though it’s not a race, it’s good to have a result like this because we can’t hide the fact that this season has not been what any of us expected. It’s nice to have a result from all the hard work that everyone and Honda and Ten Kate is putting into this programme. This result feels good mainly because of all that hard work. We’ve done the homework for the race too, but it’s a difficult call. The tyre performance in the races dropped a lot last yea r and it will again tomorrow. The race will be decided by who is riding best on the used tyres in the hot conditions, so it’ll be a very different exercise tomorrow. We’ll take the front row for now, but we know that tomorrow will be a different story.
Michael van der Mark - P12, 2m05.004s
This morning we tried a small change with the bike but didn’t really make a big step forward but then, in FP4 when it was really hot, we found a big improvement. I was quite fast for the conditions, when everybody seemed to be struggling, and we went a lot faster, so I was happy with that. I did a fast lap on the race tyre at the beginning of Superpole and then, with the qualifying tyre, I could only do one lap but I couldn’t make it work. Our race pace seems to be OK I think so I’ll try for another couple of good starts and see what happens in the races.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
We had a really good day with both guys today. Mikey had a really good run in the last free practice session, dramatically improving his lap time and giving him third place. He should be in good shape for race pace, but unfortunately he just missed out on Superpole 2. That wasn’t an honest reflection of where he should be but lately he’s been starting really well so I think a top six finish is possible. Sylvain continued his good start from yesterday and was fifth in the FP3. He did an outstanding job in Superpole and a front row starts feels like something really special. He’s in for a good fight tomorrow but it’ll be really tricky with tyre wear because lap times are dropping quite dramatically. It’ll be a question of staying with the front group until the last five to seven laps and then seeing who has managed their tyres better.
WSBK - APRILIA ON THE FIRST AND SECOND ROW AT SEPANG WITH JORDI TORRES AND MAX BIAGGI
Sepang (Malaysia), 1 August 2015 – Aprilia showed its stuff today at Sepang in Superpole, the session that decides the starting order for the WSBK races tomorrow on the Malaysian track.
Torres took full advantage of the session on a qualifier tyre and rode his RSV4 RF to second place, just 27 hundredths of a second behind Sykes' pole.
With this performance Jordi, a rookie in World Superbike this year, confirms his growth, improving on his performance at Laguna Seca when, for the first time, he took a spot on the front row, but with the third best time.
Max Biaggi, the six-time World Champion, did an excellent job in his second wild card of the season. Almost three years after retiring from racing he battled valiantly, leaving many of the Championship protagonists behind and he missed a spot on the front row by just over a tenth of a second. For him this is an excellent fourth best time that places him on the second row and improves on the fifth spot on the grid that he took at Misano.
Leon Haslam was a bit farther back. The English Aprilia Racing – Red Devils team rider had been one of the main players in the last free practice session to get into Superpole, finishing in second place behind his team mate, Torres, but he was unable to exploit his tyre in the decisive session where he finished in eighth place for a spot on the third row.
Max Biaggi: “I'm pleased with the final outcome because just toward the end of the qualifiers we figured out a few things and I hope that this is the step forward we were trying to find for the races. This is a demonstration of why it is essential for me to take full advantage of every single session. My testing here, which was conducted in only one day because of the rain, cannot compare to the race weekend habits of the riders who compete throughout the entire season and are accustomed to certain automatisms. Tomorrow I hope to ride two nice races. I want to stay with the leaders and that is why starting well will be important.”
Jordi Torres: “This morning we did very well and we worked on my RSV4 with a race tyre because we are quite worried about wear, which is the aspect where we still need to make progress and we'll use the warm up session to improve. I am feeling much better with the qualifier tyre now, thanks to increasing experience and in Superpole we pushed well. Maybe I needed be just a bit fiercer to do even better. Now we'll just wait for the races tomorrow. I'm starting from an excellent position and hopefully we'll do well.”
Leon Haslam: “This morning everything went very well, but unfortunately in the afternoon, both in the last free practice and in Superpole, some problems came up that we are assessing now. We need to improve something on our race pace, but above all we need to get back the feeling I had this morning with my bike. If we can do that tomorrow I'll be able to ride two great races.”
Saturday's Words & Pictures
Tom Sykes #66 - Kawasaki Racing Team
Facebook page: Tom-Sykes-66
“I had a great start to the weekend as my wife had just given birth to a baby daughter. On track we were a little bit behind to start with as we had a big schedule of work this weekend and had to compromise on it because of the session we missed yesterday in the rain. That is the same for everybody so overall I am relatively happy. We did what we wanted for Superpole and did what we wanted to do in FP4. The bike settings came good and I was really happy for that. I think tomorrow will be interesting and we do not look in bad shape, so I am relatively confident. The weather may be a bit hit and miss but we are set-up now for dry conditions.”
Jordi Torres #81 - Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils
“This morning we were quite quick as we focused mainly on race distance as our first concern is to make sure to keep a good pace for the whole encounter. This will be our goal tomorrow morning during the warm up, we need to improve on this side of things. I was able to finally take the best out of the qualifying tyre thanks to the experience gained in the first nine rounds but I think I could have attacked even more on my flying lap. We will see how it goes tomorrow, my starting position is great and I hope my results will be as good.”
Sylvain Guintoli #1 - Pata Honda World Superbike
Facebook Page: SylvainGuintoliOfficialPage
"It feels like we’ve found some outright pace, especially on new tyres, and we’ve also been able to compensate a little for a lack of speed. The qualifying tyre made a big difference for me but there’s more to it than that technical stuff, which can get a bit boring sometimes! It’s nice to have a result from all the hard work that everyone and Honda and Ten Kate is putting into this programme. We’ve done the homework for the race too, but it’s a difficult call. The race will be decided by who is riding best on the used tyres in the hot conditions, so it’ll be a very different exercise tomorrow."
Max Biaggi #3 - Aprilia Racing Team
“I’m happy with how things went in the final stages, because it was then when we found that little step that hopefully will help us tomorrow in the two races; this shows how crucial is to make the most of every single session. Last week’s test, which was heavily affected by rain, cannot match the mental and physical preparation full-time riders have. I hope to do two good races tomorrow; I want to fight at the front of the field and in order to do so a good start will be extremely important.”
Maiden WSS pole for Jacobsen in Sepang
Series leader Sofuoglu and Cluzel lock out front row.
PJ Jacobsen (CORE’’ Motorsport Thailand) has claimed the World Supersport Pole Position in today’s sole qualifying session at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. The soon-to-be 22 year old from New York was able to clock in 2’08.244 on his first return to the circuit after the double arm pump surgery he underwent last month. Despite a couple of mistakes during his flying lap, the time set by the American proved to be quick enough to claim his career-maiden WSS pole position ahead of tomorrow’s 14-lap encounter.
After a late charge to the top, series leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had to settle for second place as Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took the last spot on the front row.
Row 2 is made up of two Italians and a British rider as Roberto Rolfo (Team Lorini), Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) claimed fourth to sixth positions respectively, the top 6 covered by 1.002s. Zanetti and Rea posted identical times.
Kyle Smith crashed his Pata Honda at the midway point of the 45-minute session but his time sees him seventh ahead of Alex Baldolini, who had another strong qualifying aboard his privately entered Race Department ATK#25 MV Agusta and Christian Gamarino (Team Go Eleven).
Sofuoglu Second On The Sepang WSS Grid
Ninja ZX-6R rider Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) scored second place after an intense qualifying session in the FIM Supersport World Championship round at Sepang in Malaysia, putting him in the front row starting position he always aims for at each round.
The weather conditions were dry for the lone WSS qualifying session and the usual championship top three contenders - points leader Sofuoglu, Jules Cluzel and PJ Jacobsen - fought it out for pole, with Sofuoglu 0.180 seconds from the very top.
Working as always towards raceday Sofuoglu and his team made real improvements on the second day of practice and qualifying. After morning warm-up is completed on Sunday Kenan will aim for his fifth win of the season to extend his current championship lead of 20 points.
Christian Gamarino (Go Eleven Kawasaki) was second best Kawasaki qualifier, going ninth on the grid for a third row start. One place and one row behind, Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) is now looking forward to his first WSS race start at Sepang. Dominic Schmitter (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) placed himself 14th after qualifying.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “The team did a really good job today and compared to yesterday they found some big improvements. This is not an easy track for our bike as it is does not like a bumpy circuit so much, but the team managed to find a good setup and we achieved a good lap time. I think for the race tomorrow it will not be easy but I will fight for the win and the 25 points because I really need them.”
Scintillating sixth for Gino
Sat, 01 Aug 2015
CIA LANDLORDS INSURANCE HONDA’S Gino Rea left it until the last lap to post his fastest time and secure sixth on the grid for tomorrow’s ninth round of the World Supersport Championship at Sepang in Malaysia.
Gino said: “I posted a fast lap right at the end and it felt good. I think I can follow the guys ahead of me on the grid. I am comfortable on my CIA Landlords Insurance Honda; the team has done a fantastic job this weekend. It’s going to be another hard race and I’ll be giving it my all.”
Martin Cardenas qualified in 11th place and has shown good speed all weekend. Aiden Wagner is an impressive 15th, only one position ahead of teammate Ratthapong Wilairot in 16th, both doing good jobs on their first weekend with the CIA Landlords Insurance Honda team.
There is a warm up in the morning ahead of the race at 1500 local time on Sunday, August 2nd.
CIA Landlords Insurance Honda’s Simon Buckmaster said: “We worked hard through practice in the two dry sessions to get the balance right for Gino. He had to work hard to get on the pace himself as well. At the end he put in a good lap for the second row of grid. It is a decent confidence boost for him and we are looking strong for a top five in the race.
“It was a good session for Martin after a fast off in FP3. When you crash you always lose a little momentum, so it is not so bad, he can challenge inside top 10.
“Aiden and Ratthapong are doing well, it is always hard to come into the World Championship late in the season when everyone is riding fast. They lost a session in the wet where they are both strong. Both made big step forward today that is good to see and we can expect them to challenge in the points tomorrow.”
Seventh for Smith in Sepang
Kyle Smith will start tomorrow’s ninth-round World Supersport championship race from the third row of the grid after setting the seventh fastest time in this afternoon’s qualifying session at Sepang in Malaysia as fellow Honda CBR600RR rider P J Jacobsen took his maiden pole position.
The Pata Honda rider had a good debut at the 5.543km Sepang circuit yesterday but struggled with inconsistent grip levels today, and found it difficult to improve his lap times in spite of a fully dry circuit compared to yesterday’s variable conditions.
Halfway through the 45-minute qualifying session, having just set the second fastest time, Smith, 23, crashed his CBR but was able to return to his box for repairs. However, with just ten minutes remaining in the session, the British rider was unable to improve and slipped to seventh place in the rankings.
Smith and his team are confident of a good pace for tomorrow’s 14-lap race and will be aiming to return to the podium for the first time since April.
Kyle Smith - P7, 2m09.361s
We had big problems with tyre grip today, with one tyre working OK and giving good grip and then another with exactly the same compound giving no grip and just spinning up a lot. I did my best lap of the weekend on a good tyre and then I crashed the following lap when I was trying to push a little bit harder. Luckily there wasn’t much damage so I was able to get out again with ten minutes to go. We used exactly the same specification tyre but, again, there was no grip. Apart from that, and the position we’re in, everything’s pretty good!
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Today was not what we really expected after a positive day yesterday. We had some issues with tyre grip today and Kyle suffered a bit from that. His small crash in qualifying didn’t help and he ended up seventh. We’re not sure yet which tyre to pick for the race so we’ll have another look at that in the morning. Then we’ll hope for a good start and for Kyle to be battling near the front in the race.