Press releases from the teams and series organizer after the first day of practice at the French round of WorldSBK:
Rea the leader of the pack in France
Opening day of free practice at Magny-Cours full of surprises
As the WorldSBK riders undertook their first two practice sessions at the Pirelli French Round on Friday it was Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea who led the way with a 1’37.489 lap, whilst Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) were also in the top three.
Rea’s quickest time of the day - which was well under the best race lap of the 4.411km Magny-Cours circuit set by his teammate Tom Sykes last year - put him 0.439s ahead of Friday’s second fastest participant Van der Mark. Melandri was marginally slower than Yamaha’s Dutch rider, going round the French track 0.477s off Rea’s time.
The pace of Rea on the first day saw him start the weekend in good shape as he aims to wrap up a third consecutive WorldSBK title.
Also within half a second of Rea was fourth placed Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati), whilst Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) went round 0.527s off P1 pace in fifth.
Spaniard Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) was sixth best, just ahead of Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) on the combined timesheets. Camier was unable to improve in the afternoon having lapped second fastest in FP1.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) completed the top ten. Sykes was returning to competitive action after missing both races at the last round in Portugal due to a finger injury sustained in practice at Portimao.
In the opening session of the #FrenchWorldSBK round earlier on Friday morning Laverty crashed at turn 6, losing the front end going into the right hander ahead of the Nürburgring chicane. The Irishman was unhurt and was soon able to return to the track.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track on Saturday morning at the Pirelli French Round at 8.45am local time for FP3. SP1 takes place at 10.30am, SP2 follows at 10.55am and Race 1 will start at 1pm.
#FrenchWorldSBK Fastest on Friday:
1. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 1.37.489
2. Michael van der Mark Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team +0.439
3. Marco Melandri Aruba.it Racing - Ducati +0.477
Rea Fastest As Sykes Joins Superpole 2
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes had successful opening days at the French round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship season, with Rea fastest of all and Sykes finishing tenth in qualifying, despite suffering a recent left hand injury.
After the first dry and relatively warm day of action at the 4.411km circuit of Magny Cours championship leader Rea headed up the field by 0.439 seconds, completing both FP1 and FP2 sessions at the top of the timesheets.
Rea’s strong performance on the Ninja ZX-10RR made for an ideal start to what could be a unique and historic race meeting in France. On Saturday, in the first 21-lap race of the weekend, Rea will have his first arithmetical chance of lifting the 2017 championship crown. If he does, he will become the first rider in the 30-year history of WorldSBK racing to win three titles in a row.
The closest title challenger to Rea as it stands is his team-mate Sykes, who returned to action today after a whirlwind few days of surgery and then recovery from finger and hand injuries suffered in FP3 at the previous round in Portugal.
With his injuries being suffered just less than two week’s ago Sykes’ recovery both off track and the free practice sessions have delivered instant results. He has qualified directly into Superpole 2, the results of which will determine the final leading grid positions for Saturday’s first race of the weekend.
At this point in the championship Rea leads Sykes by 120 points, so if results go his way in race one he could be crowned champion as early as tomorrow. Jonathan has six opportunities in all to be able to make sure of another title win before the season finishes in Qatar in November.
For Rea, Sykes and all the WorldSBK riders the immediate question is what kind of track surface they will experience on Saturday, as rain is predicted to take over from today’s dry and sunny conditions.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We just put the package together today and the bike is working really well. I am just trying to understand which one of all the tyre options that Pirelli have brought here to use for tomorrow. I think we have a good idea of that already. I am feeling good for long distance and for a one-lap attack. Whatever happens with the weather tomorrow we have to be ready because it is the first opportunity we can have to win this championship. That is exciting for me but the target is to focus on the first race itself and do the best possible job I can.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I cannot believe we have had such a good first day back after injury and I have to thank the surgeon, Dr. Jordi Font, and all the team for organising everything. Also thanks to all the boys here for making a lot of small changes on the bike - to make me feel more comfortable - and the physios and osteopaths who have been working with me. Obviously the situation with my hand is not ideal because it is such a recent injury and I am not able to get the bike through the chicanes as I would like. I am losing time because of it. Up until the point that everyone put fresh tyres on their bikes I was not so far behind the best times. That said, even with an injury the lap time is still there.”
Melandri 3rd and Davies 4th in Friday’s practice at Magny Cours, home of the 11th round of the season
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took it back to the track today at Magny Cours (France), home of the eleventh round of the 2017 WorldSBK Championship. In warm and dry weather conditions – with approximately 25 degrees outside and 40 on the tarmac – Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies moved forward with the usual setup work, both showing encouraging pace and closing respectively in third and fourth position.
Fourth and fifth in the morning, the Italian and the Welshman improved by circa three tenths of a second, finishing within one tenth from the previous circuit record. Melandri posted a personal best of 1:37.966 while Davies, despite not being able to complete the final time attack, finished 14 tenths of a second behind his teammate, with a 1:37.980.
The rain forecast for tomorrow could further mix things up. Nonetheless, Melandri and Davies gained direct access to Superpole 2. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 08:45 local time (CET) for FP3 in preparation of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:37.966 (3rd)
“It's been a positive day. I always enjoyed this track, and it’s really fun to ride the Panigale R in it. We worked well with the team, trying to cover as much room as possible as the forecast predicts rain for tomorrow. We worked on the pace, bringing the tires to race distance, then we tried to gauge our speed with fresh tires towards the end of FP2. I still don’t feel completely comfortable in some corners and we have room for improvement, both in terms of setup and riding. I think that we can have a solid race tomorrow, even though I practically have no experience in the wet with this bike. I hope the weather stays consistent all day so that we have time to adapt to it.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:37.980 (4th)
“Overall, day one was OK and we managed to make small but steady improvements. Unfortunately, we got cut short a little bit towards the end of FP2 by a warning on the dashboard, which prompted us to go back to the pits and verify it while we were on the attack with new tires. I’m still not 100 percent happy with the setup, but we’re going in the right direction. Last year we had a couple of awesome races here, both of which were really fun though in very different conditions, so we’ll try to do our best and put up another good fight with our rivals. There’s a strong chance it will rain tomorrow, but you can never know for sure what the weather is going to be like in Magny Cours. We haven’t done much riding riding in the wet this year, so hopefully we’ll get some time to practice in these conditions before the race itself. We’ll take it as it comes, feeling it out and working step by step.”
Pata Yamaha Shine in the Sun at Magny-Cours
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team enjoyed a superb Friday under the Magny-Cours sun at round 11 of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship, with both riders making it through to SP2. After showing good pace in the morning, Michael van der Mark put in a stunning late charge in FP2 to end the day in second overall on the timesheets. His teammate Alex Lowes also impressed, setting a good pace and demonstrating excellent consistency to finish in eighth on a day where less than 0.3s separated the riders in second and tenth positions.
The sun was out with temperatures hitting 27°C on Friday at the Circuit Nevers de Magny-Cours and van der Mark - fresh from his maiden Yamaha podium at Portimao - wasted no time getting down to work in FP1 after finding a new base setting with his Pata Yamaha R1 at the recent official test. Finishing the morning's session in seventh with a best time of 1:38.548, less than 0.7s off the top, filled the 24-year-old Dutch rider with confidence and in the afternoon's FP2 session he managed to make another step with his team. Heading out on a fresh set of tyres in the dying moments, he improved spectacularly on his penultimate lap by over 0.5s to set a 1:37.928 to secure second on the combined timesheets, 0.439s off the pace of Jonathan Rea. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend is wet but, even so, van der Mark is feeling confident that he can perform whatever the conditions throw at him.
Lowes also rode superbly on Friday and showed no ill-effects of his crash at Portimao, despite not being at 100%. The 27-year-old British rider hit the ground running in FP1, setting a 1:38.320 to finish in sixth, just 0.471s off the leader. In the afternoon, he put in a race simulation and showed incredible consistency as he reeled off 11 consecutive laps in the low 1'39s and collected some valuable data for the team. Towards the end of the session, he pitted for some fresh rubber and went back out to improve to a 1:38.133 to finish the day in eighth overall, happy with the work done. The time was made even more impressive by the fact Lowes set it on his own at a track where a "tow" seemed to benefit other riders, with his time just 0.205s off the pace of his teammate in one of the closest sessions of the season.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are back in action for FP3 on Saturday morning at 8:45 am local time, with qualifying due to start at 10:30 am and Race 1 scheduled for 13:00 pm. Check out the combined Friday results.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 2nd - 1:37.928
"I am really happy! This morning we started quite strong and we improved lap by lap. I was feeling better and better, then we changed something on the front of the bike and we made another step, which was good enough for P7 this morning. For FP2 we didn't try anything at the start because the temperature had risen dramatically and we wanted to see what the track was like. After my first run we tried out a different rear spring and tyre options, but it wasn't really an improvement. Towards the end, we went the other way and then I went out on a new set of tyres and made a really good lap time, so I am happy. I am P2, but everyone is so close at the moment. I am happy we are in SP2, but it looks like rain tomorrow so we will have to start again!"
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 8th - 1:38.133
"I am happy with my pace, I think some guys got a decent tow, which makes my time even better in an amazingly close session. I think we've done a good job today, my feeling with the Pata Yamaha R1 was okay. The issue for everyone is that it was nice and dry today, but the rest of the weekend is forecast to be wet, so we might have to start again tomorrow. I am feeling good and will give it everything no matter what the weather!"
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"It has been a surprisingly nice day weather-wise in Magny-Cours which has allowed all of the WorldSBK teams to work hard and to show a very competitive pace. Aside from Jonathan Rea having a bit of a gap at the front, the rest of the top ten is incredibly tightly stacked both in terms of their best lap time and also their race pace. We had a good day's work for both riders, lots of laps and when it mattered both Michael and Alex put their heads down to secure their slot in SP2. Alex is still in some discomfort after his Portimao crash, but isn't allowing it to affect his potential, and completed a near race distance run in FP2 with extremely good consistency. That always helps when it comes to building performance for the race weekend. Michael and his crew used the new base setting that they found in the Portimao test and it is encouraging that the setting worked quite well, with some adjustments, from the start here in Magny-Cours. After a very solid FP1, it was great to see Michael and the R1 top the day off with P2 right at the end of FP2. The weather forecast does not look great for tomorrow, it well may be a case of "start again", but nonetheless today has been a good introduction for the Pata Yamaha team to the Magny-Cours event."
Constructive first day for Althea BMW in France
Nevers (France), Friday 29 September 2017
The Althea BMW Racing team is on track at Magny-Cours, in France, for round eleven of the Superbike World Championship taking place this weekend. At the end of a busy first day of track action, riders Jordi Torres and Raffaele De Rosa concluded the first two timed practice sessions in twelfth and thirteenth place respectively.
In the morning’s first practice, Torres and De Rosa took advantage of the dry conditions as they started to work to set up their BMW bikes and adapt them to the French track. At the end of the 60-minute session, Jordi was lying ninth (1’38.799), Raffaele fifteenth (1’39.819).
Back on track later in the day for the second timed session, Torres was able to lower his time slightly in the latter stages, closing with a best of 1’38.702 that put him in twelfth place overall. De Rosa improved on his time almost immediately, before continuing to make progress throughout session two, to finish thirteenth, right behind his team-mate, with a fastest time of 1’39.205. Both Althea BMW riders will therefore take part in tomorrow’s Superpole1.
"It's been quite a tough day but we were always knew this wouldn’t be an easy track for us. This morning we had some issues with the rear of the bike and, while it seems we’ve solved them, this afternoon I struggled a bit with corner entry. The morning actually didn’t go too badly, I had more difficulty in the afternoon and, despite having built confidence with the track, I had trouble setting fast times. Tomorrow we’ll try a combination of today’s set-ups and will hopefully come up with a good solution.”
Raffaele De Rosa
"Today's sessions were both dry and so we were able to work well, making the most of the conditions. I was hoping to get into SP2 but it wasn’t possible in the end. We’re working to be able to exit the slow corners faster, trying to improve both the bike and my riding in this area. Tomorrow we’ll need to see what the weather brings but, whatever the conditions, we’ll be doing our best to score a good grid position in Superpole…”
Milwaukee Aprilia off to a good start in Free Practice at Magny-Cours
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours 29 / 09 / 2017
Milwaukee Aprilia got off to a good start at Magny-Cours on Friday, riders Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty ending the day P5 and P8 respectively and securing a Superpole 2 start for the team.
The morning FP1 session saw a rapid Lorenzo take a strong P3, less than four tenths behind pace-setter Rea and setting a good benchmark time. Teammate Eugene experienced a tougher session, with a small crash at Turn 6 delaying his running time before he ended the session P14.
The afternoon's FP2 session proved better for the team, with Lorenzo taking a solid P5 with a faster time than the morning and a much-improved Eugene finding over 1.5 seconds to finish P8. Their combined times were good enough to secure both riders slots in Saturday's Superpole 2 session, where they will fight for pole position. The threat of rain on Saturday has loomed all week, which will make FP3 and Superpole 2 very important for the team to secure good grid slots for Race 1.
Lorenzo Savadori #32 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Free Practice 1: 1'38.235, P3
Free Practice 2: 1'38.016, P5
"I was quite happy with Free Practice today. The bike has been comfortable for me and it is working well here. Top 5 in both sessions is a good start for us, and I am happy to be in Superpole 2 again."
We still need to improve the turning of the bike a little, and I was losing a lot of time in Sector 1. We have tried some new things with the RSV4-RF today and they seem to work well, so I am confident for the weekend.
For tomorrow, I would prefer a dry race for sure. If it's wet then it is wet for all, so it will be difficult for everyone. I think there will be opportunity for some good points in the race, and we must work hard on our race pace before then."
Eugene Laverty #50 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Free Practice 1: 1'39.792, P14
Free Practice 2: 1'38.152, P8
“The first session really wasn't good for us, I had problems with the front and rear. The front felt it was going to crash which did happen unfortunately, but we understood what the problem was between sessions though and made a huge step forward in the afternoon.
Previously with this bike it's been a delicate balance of front and rear grip, and today we found more rear grip that really let me 'hook into' the track. We were over a second a half quicker with the potential for more in FP2, so I was really happy with the progress and the team did a great job.
There's rain predicted for tomorrow which could make it a lottery for everyone. When I rode the bike in the wet earlier this year it was fantastic. The bike is very different now and we have changed it a lot in terms of weight and balance, but it's working well in the dry and I'm sure with a few tweaks we can be competitive."
Giugliano and Gagne set solid basis after opening day in France
Circuit Nevers Magny-Cours, France
The eleventh Round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship got underway today at Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours, with Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team’s Davide Giugliano and Jake Gagne 15th and 21st, respectively, in the combined times of today’s two free practice sessions held at the venue located in the heart of France. Both riders will therefore take part in tomorrow’s Superpole 1, which will begin at 10:30 local time (GMT +2).
Today Davide Giugliano turned a wheel at Magny-Cours for the first time since 2014, having been sidelined from the French round for the last two years in a row due to injury. After taking part in the post-race official test at Portimão less than two weeks ago, the 27-year-old Italian had to try out the characteristics of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine on a very different racetrack, which requires a totally different set-up. After suffering a low-speed crash at Turn 5 (Adelaide) in the second half of FP2, Giugliano set his fastest time of the day in the last outing before the chequered flag.
After arriving in France for the first time two days ago, Jake Gagne spent the entirety of today’s track-time learning his way around the challenging and slightly undulating 4.411km French venue. The 24-year-old from San Diego made some progress in the afternoon session and was the most active rider on track with 52 laps completed throughout the day.
Davide Giugliano 34
It’s been quite a positive day for us: we tried some new stuff that I liked a lot. It’s a pity that on my very last lap I made a couple of mistakes which cost me at least half a second, but the feeling is there with the bike already and that’s the most important thing. I’m starting to feel the bike as my own and that’s without a doubt a confidence boost for me. We’ve worked really hard today and we are planning on making another adjustment for tomorrow, which hopefully will further improve our performance. We’re aware that the weather might change tomorrow but we are working in the right direction so we can look forward to whatever the weather does.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It’s nice to be back on this Fireblade after a little while. It has been a positive day: we kept making progress lap by lap and I’ve been out on track a lot. I was able to learn a lot about more about the bike and find my way around the track. I also had to learn how to use the Pirelli front tyre a bit better and try to brake a bit harder. This track requires a very precise riding style – there’s not much room for error – but we made little steps forwards here and there and generally speaking my feeling with the bike has improved. The weather looks a bit crazy for tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens!
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Ronald ten Kate
It has been a busy day today on both sides of the garage. Davide worked hard with the crew on a track that is really different from Lausitzring and Portimão. From his comments, it’s clear that he has improved his feeling with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, although it hasn’t translated in competitive lap times yet. We are confident he will be able to improve his performance tomorrow. Jake did a massive amount of work on track: Magny-Cours is not an easy circuit to learn but he has improved in each sector over the course of the day. He now needs to put a strong whole lap together.
WorldSSP: Mahias takes home advantage on Friday in France
Red flagged free practice session sees title fighters locked at the top
The first day of activity at the #FrenchWorldSBK round saw French rider Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) conclude the opening sessions leading the combined timesheets courtesy of a best time from FP1.
Mahias’ best effort of 1’41.502 on Friday morning was the quickest of the day in the WorldSSP class Magny-Cours, with his title rival Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just behind him second, followed by Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) in third.
PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) completed a top five of riders whose best times of the day all came in FP1. Sixth and seventh respectively on the combined timesheet were Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), who both recorded their best times in FP2.
Friday’s WorldSSP top ten also featured Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) and Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven).
An incident-packed FP2 session was red flagged twice due to crashes meaning the riders had to maintain their concentration in their pitboxes whilst waiting for the action to resume. The first incident saw Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) and Caricasulo crash at turn 5, with the second red flag being shown later due to a crash at turn 6 involving Sofuoglu, Rea, Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing) and Lorenzo Zanetti (Team Factory Vamag). None of the riders were seriously affected by the crashes.
On Saturday at the Pirelli French Round the WorldSSP riders will undertake FP3 at 9.20am local time, followed by SP1 at 2pm and SP2 at 2.25pm.
#FrenchWorldSSP Fastest on Friday
1. Lucas Mahias GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team 1.41.602
2. Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +0.599
3. Federico Caricasulo GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team +0.639
GRT Yamaha Enjoy Superb Start in WorldSSP at Magny-Cours
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team got off to an almost perfect start on Friday at Magny-Cours, round ten of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. Title contender Lucas Mahias dominated proceedings at his home round, topping both sessions and ending the day 0.599s clear of the rest of the field, whilst his teammate Federico Caricasulo also showed incredible pace to finish in third on the overall timesheets.
Mahias' seventh podium of the season last time out in Portimao saw him arrive in France trailing championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu by just four points with two races remaining and the French rider knows he needs a good performance at his home race to give him the best chance of becoming the 2017 WorldSSP champion. Therefore, Friday took on an even greater emphasis for the 28-year-old from Mont-de-Marsan in South West France and he did not disappoint the passionate French supporters. In FP1 he showed sensational pace right from the word go on his Yamaha R6 and ended up setting a 1:41.502, less than a second off the outright lap record at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, and 0.599s quicker than everybody else. In FP2 he tried a different setting but it was not an improvement, so his team returned to the setup from the morning. Mahias immediately found his groove again, setting a 1:41.688 to top an afternoon session that was broken up by two red flags. The disruptions meant none of the top five improved their times from FP1, with Mahias the only rider to break the 1'42 barrier during the day and finishing 0.599s ahead of his championship rival Kenan Sofuoglu in second place.
His teammate Federico Caricasulo also enjoyed a superb Friday. The 21-year-old Italian settled into a rhythm straight away in FP1 and was always near the top of the timesheets throughout the session. On his final run, he set a 1:42.141, which would be good enough to secure third on the timesheets. Early on in FP2 he hit a patch of oil left by another rider and crashed at Turn 5, luckily, he was unhurt and able to remount immediately, with the red flag being shown for the incident. When the session resumed, he went back out and tried some different settings before the second red flag appeared for oil on the track. Realising his place in SP2 on Saturday was secure, Caricasulo spent the remainder of the session focusing on improving on his already impressive race pace. His time from FP1 was good enough for third on the combined timesheets and saw him 0.639s off the pace of his teammate.
To round off a great day for Yamaha, Kallio Racing's Niki Tuuli and Sheridan Morais finished in fifth and sixth respectively, meaning there were four Yamaha R6s in the top six. Check out the combined results from Friday.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team return to action on Saturday morning at 9:20 am local time for FP3, with qualifying starting at 2 pm and Sunday's race at 11:30 am.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:41.502
"I am very happy as it was a very good day for me! It was a big surprise because, at the beginning of the day, we didn't really try and push. It is only the first day but I am really confident with my R6. It is my home track, which obviously helps and I have a lot of experience here as well. We worked a lot to try and improve the bike in-between the sessions but we found that at the start of FP2 it wasn't an improvement, so we changed a few settings, went back out at the end of the session and my feeling was very, very good. Even with the oil on the track after the second red flag, I managed to improve my time in the session, which is good for tomorrow. I hope for good weather tomorrow, but if it rains, I am very confident in the wet too!"
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team - 3rd - 1:42.141
"It was not a bad day! We had a good FP1, but FP2 was kind of strange. I crashed after just a few laps on some oil. After that, I tried a few new settings on the bike but there was another red flag, so I realised that I would not lose my position in the top ten. I then spent the rest of the session trying to improve the feeling with my R6, without worrying about the lap times. With that in mind, I am very happy to have finished in third and I am looking forward to tomorrow!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"We had a very good day! Lucas finishing in first at his home track was great and Federico was also really quick and we are very happy he ended the day in third. This morning we started well, we always try and finish FP1 in the top five and then focus on trying out different settings in the afternoon to work on the rider's race pace. We tried a different setting with Lucas in FP2 but it didn't improve his feeling so we went back to the settings from the morning. It has been a fantastic day and we are definitely heading in the right direction. I would like to say thank you to the riders and the team for their efforts today, plus, of course, Yamaha for providing us with such a good package. The weather doesn't look great tomorrow but we will try to find a way to ensure that we are quick no matter what the conditions."
Cluzel hunts for home advantage
PTR Honda·Friday, September 29, 2017
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda's Jules Cluzel concluded the first day of World Supersport action at Magny Cours eighth on the combined timesheets. An incident packed Free Practice 2 in the afternoon was punctuated twice by red flags due to crashes which added to the pressure and the Frenchman was unable to improve on his time of 1'42.392 set in the morning's session.
Jules said: “A difficult day, it looks like we struggled. We tried different things at the end maybe I was able to improve a little bit but I have so much problem into the back straight for downshift so I go straight 2 or 3 times and I lose maybe a few tenths. I think at best I was able to do the same lap time as this morning and this was not improving my position. Tomorrow will be different conditions and maybe the bike is better in the wet, I think so as last year Kyle Smith was really fast in the wet but we have to improve dry pace to be a contender to win.”
Hikari Okubo narrowly missed out on the top ten and automatic entry to Superpole 2. The Japanese rider improved his lap time in the afternoon session taking him from 16th to 11th on the combined timesheets and will challenge in Superpole 1 for one of the top two spots tomorrow.
Christoffer Bergman made an encouraging start to round 10 of the World Supersport Championship finishing the morning 18th quickest with a time of 1'43.361 but the Swede was unable to make headway in the afternoon session so joins teammate Okubo in the challenge for entry to Superpole 2 tomorrow.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager, Simon Buckmaster said: “A slightly disappointing day for Jules in 8th place. We had the potential to be 3rd or 4th realistically. This is Jules's home race and he feels a lot of pressure. He ran on a couple of times so we will look into any issues with downshifting but he allowed himself to get frustrated. He needs to be calm then I am sure he will be in contention tomorrow. The conditions tomorrow look completely different, it looks like it will be wet so the important thing now is to challenge for pole position in qualifying.”
“Hikari just missed out on SP2 so goes into SP1. It won't be easy there are some good guys in SP1 but if he tries to improve a bit more and keeps at it he's got a realistic chance of going through to SP2 to challenge for the best grid position.”
“Chris was unable to improve this afternoon. We will discuss things with Ohlins and look at the settings. I am sure he will come back stronger tomorrow. He is good in the rain so let's see if we can get him into SP2 and all three riders in the top ten in the race. We've had good wet set up here before with different riders on our bike so we're confident about that.