Press releases from the WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams and organizers after qualifying and the first race from Imola:
#ImolaWorldSBK – Day 2: Masterful Rea wins Imola Race 1
Imperial performance by Rea who increases championship lead
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) stuns around Italy
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took his first win at Imola since 2015 with a dominant performance at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, controlling the race from the start and not giving anyone on the track any opportunities. His teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) completed the second consecutive KRT one-two of the season, with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) returning to the podium in third.
The Kawasaki riders shot out from the lights, quickly opening up distance with the riders behind. That gap would increase to 3-4 seconds between the British pair at the halfway point, with both riders leading the race from that point forwards. Rea is now just one win away from the all-time win record in MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship history, and opens up a 42-point lead at the top of the standings.
Sykes too gave no option to the rest of the field, showing that his Assen pace was no fluke and that, when he’s got room in front, his ZX-10RR’s pace is almost unparalleled. It will be interesting to see how the rider from Yorkshire fares starting from 8th in Race 2, given the issues that have plagued him in the past. He now moves up to fourth in the championship.
The first two laps were a nightmare for Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), looking for his fifth consecutive win here. Following his crash in the Superpole 2, the Welshman struggled at the lights, falling back from third to seventh. After climbing back to fourth, Davies went straight through the Variante Bassa chicane, losing several positions along the way and any chance of a victory. He later redeemed himself with two wonderful passes at that same turn 21, but by then the podium was out of sight, thanks to the fantastic rhythm shown by Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in front of his home fans. The Italian equaled his best WorldSBK result here in third, while Davies’ fourth will at least have the consolation prize of starting from P1 tomorrow.
Behind the two teams that have dominated proceedings throughout the weekend, Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) repeated his 2017 Race 1 finish with fifth place, finding the pace to hold off Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in sixth. The Dutchman will however be pleased at his performance, after starting from the back of row 4.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) had an extraordinary start to Race 1, moving up to third in lap one. He fell back as the race progressed, but his seventh-place finish equals his best result in WorldSBK. Just behind, Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) completed his best finish of the season in eighth.
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished a successful return to the WorldSBK paddock in ninth, pipping ahead at the line of fellow Brit Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). Haslam beat his teammate for this weekend in Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), whose WorldSBK Imola debut finished with him in eleventh.
P1 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
"It was a perfect race, I was able to take a step back and enjoy that race. It was difficult compared to the beginning of the day, we lost a bit in the race so it's something to work on for tomorrow, I ran into some issues with the temperature. I'm super happy with the way the team have been working and I just want to try and do it again tomorrow."
P2 - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
"Its always nice to come home first, but I was running very strong and very consistent. But I was missing a few tenths per lap which is a lot less than I was expecting. But we worked hard yesterday with tyre and set up information and we will try and fix the bike a bit tomorrow, and push again and try and go one better."
P3 - Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"It was very difficult race today, this was as good as I could get at the beginning, as with a full tank it was hard to get the bike into the turn. But in the end with less fuel the bike was a lot better, but it was too late to get a good pace. I hope to get back tomorrow at the beginning of the race but we will need to make a good start because, its important to get good start at Imola."
#ImolaWorldSBK at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo d Dino Ferrari di Imola: Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +3.755
3. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) +6.906
Imola 1-2 For Rea And Sykes
KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes scored first and second places respectively in race one at the fifth round of the WorldSBK Championship in Imola, after breaking free of their main competitors in the first few laps.
In warm and sticky conditions Rea started the first 19-lap race of the WorldSBK race weekend from pole position, having secured his 16th career Superpole just a couple of hours before the 1pm race start.
Jonathan led from flag-to-flag with only his own team-mate Sykes for company in the first few laps, before Rea’s pace took him to an eventual margin of victory of 3.755 seconds. His latest win was his fourth of the season, all of them coming at different circuits.
After gathering a lot of data in practice on Friday, Sykes and his crew found a strong set-up on Saturday morning and Tom ended up second in Superpole qualifying.
Getting away from the start line ahead of all his rivals except Rea, Tom pushed his pace but realised that second was going to be his best possible result and he took 20 valuable championship points.
Sykes’ finished over three seconds ahead of his closest podium challenger, and is now fourth in the championship standings.
Rea’s fourth success of the year was the 58th of his career and takes him to within one victory of sharing the all-time record for WorldSBK race wins with Carl Fogarty.
Regular BSB rider Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) started from 11th place on the grid and finished his first race of the WorldSBK season ninth.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Going to the front from the start was my only plan today. My pace has been a little bit extra all weekend so the best thing for me to was to set my own rhythm and not get involved in anyone else’s race. There was a five lap plan to make a small gap but I had more than one second of advantage, so I was happy to ride to my own pit-board after that. When the gap was stagnant I could make a small effort, without taking many risks, because the temperature came up quite a lot today. The bike behaved differently because of this, so I was just trying to understand all the limits of the bike through the race and bring it home. It felt like a long race but I had a good solid rhythm, and that was enough.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I was fairly happy with the bike set-up and the pace was pretty good. Yesterday looked worse on paper than it was, because we did a lot of trial and error testing, but today we put it all together. I just missed a few tenths of a second compared to Jonathan. I had clear track for much of today so I was able to use the bike in the best way possible. I just followed the warnings from the front and rear tyres and in some areas I was not quite as settled on the front. We need to improve just in some areas tomorrow. We will work to make a few little set-up changes to enable me to push a little bit faster at the beginning of race two.”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team on the podium at Imola with Melandri (3rd), Davies 4th after a strong comeback
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took yet another podium at Imola (Italy), home of the fifth round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, with Marco Melandri 3rd in Race 1. The Italian, fourth during Superpole, got off to a strong start and fought in the chasing group early on, then pulled away thanks to a progressively better pace, taking his fourth podium of the year.
Chaz Davies faced a uphill race as, after taking first row during Superpole, he was penalized by a difficult start and a brief run-off during lap 2. The Welshman did not surrender and showed a pace worthy of the front, climbing back from 8th to 4th. Davies will thus start Race 2 from pole position.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi fought for the virtual podium until half-way through, then he was forced to drop the pace a bit and finished in seventh position with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action on May 13th at 09:35 for a warm-up session ahead of Race 2, scheduled to start at 13:00 local time.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 3rd
"All in all, we can be happy because I couldn't have done more today. It was a hard race, and early on I was struggling with a full fuel tank and I couldn't keep up with the Kawasakis. I tried everything I could, and I made a couple of mistakes as I was on the limit. From lap 10 onwards we've been really fast, so we need to analyze the data to restart from there in Race 2 tomorrow. I want to thank the home crowd for their support, the atmosphere is always incredible here and this podium is for all of them."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 4th
"Unfortunately we couldn't get a good start, then I went straight at the last chicane, so I had a quite a bit of catching up to do after that. In the end our pace was really good, so I think we could have fought for the podium if not the win, but we came through just a little too late. Looking at the positives, tomorrow we'll start from pole position. It's the first time I'll be able to take advantage of this rule, but we can also still improve a few details."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21) – 7th
"I started off quite well and my goal was to stay with Melandri, but I made a small mistake. After that, I pushed really hard to recover but, when the tires drop, I still struggle a bit. This is what we'll work on, we only need experience. Aragon was similar, but today our gap was narrower, so the trend is positive. We still have plenty of room for improvement."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"It's been a hard fought race, in which our riders gave all they had. Marco, after some difficult rounds, could take advantage of a more stable bike and his podium leaves us hopeful for the upcoming rounds. Chaz unfortunately was penalized by some struggles early on, but he's shown a strong pace. We'll work hard to come home with better results tomorrow."
Van der Mark Storms to Top Six in Race 1 at Imola
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team battled hard throughout Race 1 at Round 5 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship in Imola on Saturday. Michael van der Mark had a tricky SP2 and could only qualify in 12th but when the lights went out he mounted a stunning charge through the field to secure a superb sixth place finish. His teammate Alex Lowes qualified in tenth and gave it absolutely everything during the race, despite not having the best feeling with his bike, to bring his Pata Yamaha R1 home in a solid tenth-place finish.
It was another gorgeous day at Imola with blues skies and the sun shining on the iconic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit, meaning track temperatures were well over 40°C. Imola has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Pata Yamaha Team since the manufacturer's return to the WorldSBK Championship but van der Mark went some way to turning that around on Saturday. The 25-year-old Dutch rider - fresh from his double podium in Assen - ended Friday's practice in 5th overall with a 1:47.461 and used FP4 to try and work on race pace and the stability of his R1. In SP2, he just could not produce the kind of pace he was expecting, failing to improve on his Friday time and setting a 1:47.710, which meant he would line up for Race 1 12th on the grid.
When the lights went out the 2014 WorldSSP Champion did not have the best of starts and dropped down to 14th in the first corner. Showing excellent maturity, he did not panic and embarked on a sensational charge through the field, combining some breath-taking overtaking manoeuvres with very consistent pace. By the end of the first lap, he was already up to ninth place and by the time they crossed the line to start lap 4 he was in seventh. As the race went on, his pace continued to improve and on lap 6 he dropped into the 1:47's for the first time and was chasing down Michael Ruben Rinaldi in sixth. While everyone else's lap times were dropping, van der Mark continued to improve and set his fastest lap of the race on lap 12 as he closed down a two-second gap to Rinaldi and blasted past him on lap 13, immediately opening a gap. From there on in, he maintained his impressive pace to the chequered flag to secure a superb sixth-place finish and record his best ever WorldSBK finish at Imola after a very impressive ride. The result means that van der Mark is now fifth in the overall standings with 113 points, just 8 behind Tom Sykes in fourth, and also saw him maintain his run of being ever present in the top six in the last six races. Thanks to his performance he will line up on the front row for Sunday's Race 2 in third, confident he will be able to fight for a top-five finish.
After Alex Lowes finished Saturday morning's FP4 in ninth, the 27-year-old British rider was determined to join his teammate in SP2 and set his fastest ever lap at Imola, a 1:47.097, to top SP1 in some style and finish 0.539s ahead of the rest. Once on the qualifying tyre in SP2, he too did not have the best feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1 and failed to improve his time, setting a 1:47.115 to start Race 1 from 10th on the grid.
Lining up at the head of the fourth row, Lowes enjoyed a good start and was up to ninth by the first corner. Unfortunately, it soon became evident that he was struggling to match his rivals under acceleration. In typical style, the 2013 British Superbike Champion showed full commitment to be involved in an excellent four-way battle for ninth with Leon Haslam, Eugene Laverty, Lorenzo Savadori and Toprak Razgatlioglu. Scrapping for almost the entire 19-laps, he gave as good as he got and never gave up. He continued to battle right to the line to secure a tenth-place finish, just 0.108s off Haslam in ninth, and collected 6 championship points to take his season tally to 82. This sees him seventh overall in the standings and Lowes is determined to work on the data collected during the race with his team overnight to allow him to come out fighting from 12th on the grid in Sunday's Race 2.
After a day of ups and downs that matched the rollercoaster nature of the Imola track, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are looking forward to returning to action on Sunday at 9:35 am local time (CEST) for Warm Up, with the 19-lap Race 2 scheduled to start at 1 pm. Check out the full Race 1 results.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 6th +19.339s
"SP2 was a bit of a disaster and it was really difficult to understand why, so P12 was not ideal, especially not at Imola. My start wasn't really that good but I kept calm and went faster and faster, passing the guys one by one and at the end, I was a bit alone on the track, but I was so happy to have made up so many places. There are a lot of areas where we can improve, mainly acceleration, but to start in 12th and finish in sixth at such a difficult circuit, I am really happy with this result. Tomorrow we will start from P3 but we need a bit more pace and then hopefully we can fight in the top five."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 10th - 30.377s
"Honestly, today was extremely disappointing and a really tough 19 laps. We needed to think about tyre life but, unfortunately, the way we had the power delivery set up made life just too difficult on corner exit and I felt like I wasn't able to fight from the first lap right the way to the end. I am disappointed but I am sure that with a better package tomorrow and a good night's sleep I will come back and give my absolute best in Race 2 tomorrow."
Paul Denning - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"As we said yesterday, we expected Imola to be tough and the race around this extremely technically challenging racetrack exposed the less strong aspects of our current machine. That said, Michael rode, what I believe, was one of his best races of the season so far in terms of consistency and controlled aggression to achieve his best WorldSBK result so far at Imola. By finishing in the top six he has also put himself on the front row of the grid and given himself the best chance to improve further in Race 2 tomorrow. Well done to Michael and his crew for maximising his potential. Alex had a far less easy race. The team had focused on the setting of his R1 in order to assist with tyre life but, unfortunately, it left Alex unable to fight under acceleration and he did what he could to bring the bike home in the top ten. Race 1 in Imola is done, Michael is on the front row tomorrow, Alex's crew have data to give him a better machine and we hope to do our best in Race 2."
Gagne just misses out on points as O’Halloran crashes in Imola WorldSBK Race One
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Italy
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team narrowly missed out on a points-scoring finish in Race One at Imola, as Jake Gagne came home in sixteenth place, while Jason O’Halloran – brought into the team to replace Leon Camier this weekend – suffered misfortune as a crash on lap two resulted in the Australian rider fracturing his right leg.
Weather conditions were again warm and sunny at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari today, with the team continuing to work on improving bike settings ahead of the Superpole qualifying sessions and Race 1. In qualifying, O’Halloran and Gagne set the eighth and ninth quickest times in Superpole 1 which resulted in them lining up in P18 and P19 on the grid respectively for Race 1.
Both riders got a good start and were able to make up positions in the opening lap, however on the second lap O’Halloran suffered a crash at Turn 5 at the entry to the Villeneuve Chicane. The incident left O’Halloran with a fracture to his lower right leg and he was transported to Imola Hospital for further treatment.
Meanwhile Gagne, was able to maintain a constant pace throughout the race and in the middle stages was involved in a six-way battle for a top twelve position. However, in the final laps Gagne lost touch with the group in front and he crossed the finish line in P16 and just outside the points in his first ever race at the circuit.
Gagne will have another chance to try and add to his points total in Race 2 at 1300 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow.
Jake Gagne 45
Qualifying didn't really go the way we wanted to this morning, I made it tough for us by missing FP3 yesterday when I went down so that meant we started Race 1 a bit further back then I hoped. The race itself though went quite well, I got a good start and for the middle part of the race I had a strong pace, felt comfortable and was in the group of riders challenging for points. I faded just in the last couple of laps and obviously finishing in sixteenth is not where we want to be but for my first race here I was able to learn a lot over those nineteen laps. Now we can try some things with our setting in Warm Up and I'm sure we'll have a better race tomorrow.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Today was a tough day for us but being in WorldSBK means we get a chance tomorrow in Race 2 to turn things around. For Jake, he was able to learn a lot in his first race here at Imola and now he and the team have some ideas to help him improve his pace, so he will resume his fight for more points tomorrow in race 2. Unfortunately Jason had a crash early in Race 1 at the Villeneuve Chicane which saw him fracture his right lower leg, this is such a shame for him and we hope he makes a full and speedy recovery. I travelled with Jason to the hospital and despite the injury he's doing well and he impressed the team with his performance on the bike this weekend. Overall a tough day, but we'll be back showing our fighting spirit tomorrow
Highs and lows for Gulf Althea BMW at Imola
Imola (Italy), Saturday 12 May 2018
The first Superbike race making up the Imola WorldSBK round proved a tough one for the Gulf Althea BMW Racing team and rider Loris Baz today; the Frenchman crossed the line thirteenth after struggling to find the right feeling with his BMW in the first part of the race. In the Stock1000 qualifying session, Alessandro Delbianco scored an extremely positive second place finish.
Superpole 1: in the first Superpole, Baz soon made a fast lap that positioned him third. Back in the garage mid-session for a tyre change, the Frenchman was able to drop his time by seven tenths, setting a ‘best’ of 1’47.776, though unfortunately a small mistake during his penultimate lap caused him to lose precious time, and perhaps access to SP2. Concluding the session third, he thus qualified thirteenth for race one.
SBK - Race 1: from the fifth row, the Frenchman lost a couple of positions in the early stages as he struggled to find a good rhythm with a full fuel tank. Baz’s performance picked up in the second part of the race however, and he was able to pass two of his rivals to cross the line in final thirteenth position.
STK1000 Qualifying: after the morning’s final practice session, in which Delbianco closed in fifth position, the team was back out for qualifying this afternoon on a wet track. Alessandro immediately proved confident in the damp conditions. The Italian set his fastest time in the final stages, a 2’03.583 that saw him qualify second for tomorrow’s race, an excellent result considering his fractured shoulder and the fact he only underwent surgery a few days ago.
“Compared to yesterday, we improved somewhat in terms of rear grip but, having said that, the other riders are also constantly improving. The start of the race was tough, as having a full tank of fuel was having a bearing on the front of the bike. I couldn’t push as I wanted and only regained good feeling in the final six or seven laps. I was able to get past a couple of guys towards the end, but it was too late to do more. I cannot be happy with the final result, but I know I am doing all I can, always giving 100%, which I will continue to do as we strive to improve the bike. If we find good feeling right from the start of the race, then maybe I can do more tomorrow.”
“Today was a great day, my shoulder already feels a lot better than yesterday and we were able to finish fifth in the final practice, in dry conditions. In the wet, this afternoon, things went even better and we set the second fastest time in qualifying; I made a mistake at the final corner and if it hadn’t been for that, we might have scored pole. The only thing that might be a problem tomorrow, in terms of my shoulder, is the race distance, but I’m feeling confident.”
WorldSSP: Mahias beats downpour to take WorldSSP Superpole
French one-two at Imola, with Sofuoglu scoring final front row start
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) back on top on Saturday
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) made the most out of his one attempt at a dry lap to take his third Superpole of the FIM Supersport World Championship. After sunshine all throughout the day at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, the rain conditioned the second qualifying session, shuffling the starting grid for tomorrow.
The first drops fell at the tail-end of Superpole 1, with Massimo Roccoli (G.A.S. Racing Team) and Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) making the best of the still-dry conditions. By the time the twelve best men came out on track, it quickly became a race to record a lap before the conditions worsened. Those who pushed early hit the jackpot – while the first four rode in 1’53 and 1’54s, from fifth backwards no rider made it under 1’58.701.
Second behind Mahias was Jules Cluzel (NRT), continuing his good form from Assen. The front row will be completed tomorrow with Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Despite coming in with little preparation or training in 2018, the WorldSSP legend will be in a prime position to finish his career in the best way possible.
The good news for Mahias didn’t stop here, as his two closest contenders for the championship finished the session at the other end of the standings. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) will start from ninth tomorrow, while Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) will have to command another fight from the back as he starts from eleventh.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) will start from the front of the second row, in fourth. Hartog took advantage of the conditions to make it in in fifth place, by far the best rider competing in the FIM Europe Supersport Cup. Sixth was Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), while Roccoli finished the session with the seventh fastest time.
Pole Position: Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
"I am very happy with this pole position. It's like in endurance racing, you have one or two laps to push and after the rain it's tough. I was in the front and when I entered the corner, but I didn't know if it was wet or dry. In my head I had one chance, and tomorrow I hope for better condition for the race and I am confident and will work a lot with the team."
#ImolaWorldSBK WorldSSP at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo d Dino Ferrari di Imola: Tissot-Superpole
1. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
2. Jules Cluzel (NRT) +0.985
3. Kenan Sofuoflu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +1.629
Sofuoglu Qualifies With A Final Front Row Flourish
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) overcame the slippery conditions in the second WorldSSP Superpole qualifying session at Imola to record the third best overall time and take a front row start on his farewell weekend. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was eighth fastest qualifier in Superpole 2, equalling his best grid placing of the year.
Five times FIM Supersport World Championship Kenan Sofuoglu put in a typically competitive performance in his final Superpole qualifying session before retirement, while scoring his 101st career front row starting place.
Despite not being at anything like full race fitness, and still recovering completely from long term pelvic injury, Sofuoglu surprised even himself to finish the Friday qualifying sessions in fifth place. He was even happier to have taken a front row starting place on his final competitive racing weekend.
Without the possibility of a pre-race preparation and training regime, Sofuoglu is unsure of how the race will develop for him on Sunday but he will be out to finish his peerless WorldSSP career with a strong performance.
For Okubo, Imola has delivered a relatively successful weekend so far as he lines up inside the top three rows for raceday, despite the treacherous and slippery conditions that affected Superpole 2.
The WorldSSP race on Sunday is scheduled for 17 laps of the 4.936km long Imola circuit, and is due to start at 11.30am local time.
Kenan Sofuoglu stated: “I did not expect this front row, so I am very happy. Since the Australian round I had no training, no time on the bike, and no conditioning for the race. To get into the front row is like a big gift for me in my final race. I am not here to win, or to show something, I am just here to say goodbye to everyone, to my championship and to my career. I do not care anything about tomorrow but it was nice to be on the front row today.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “The first day was not so bad for lap times and I got into Superpole 2, but finally I crashed in the final chicane. Today, in Superpole, there were very difficult conditions because the rain came and it was quite slippy. I did not want to crash again so I could not push hard, not at 100%. But I qualified eighth, which is still my equal best qualifying position. I like this track so I hope I can make a good race on Sunday and try to get on the podium.”
ESS Rider, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Against Cancer) went from Superpole 1 to Superpole 2 and then fifth overall in Superpole 2. He was the second fastest Kawasaki rider, after the amazing return of Sofuoglu to the front row.
Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) qualified in 17th place today, with Wayne Tessels (Chromeburner Wayne’s Racingteam MTM) 25th, Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 26th and Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 27th.
ESS rider Peter Sebestyen (SSP Hungary Team) placed 28th on the grid, and Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 31st.
Masterful Mahias Times it Perfectly to Secure Pole at Imola
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team enjoyed a superb Saturday at Round 5 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, secured his third pole position of the season in a dramatic, rain-affected SP2 after setting a brilliant 1:53.042 in what turned out to be a race against the weather. His teammate Federico Caricasulo had been the man to beat at his home round on Friday and he maintained this form, despite the tricky conditions in SP2, to qualify in fourth for Sunday's race. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola continued his impressive progress in his rookie WorldSSP season as he qualified in 26th, incredibly improving his best time from Friday's FP1 by 2.5s.
The weather has been glorious all weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, but just as the bikes were being warmed up for WorldSSP SP1, ominous grey clouds appeared and a storm was on its way. This meant qualifying was a case of who could set the fastest time before the heavy rain arrived in an exciting game of cat and mouse.
Mahias (71 points) arrived in Imola having seen his championship lead reduced to just one point after two tricky races at Aragon and Assen. Determined to take the fight to his rivals in Imola, the 28-year-old French rider had rediscovered the feeling with his R6 during Friday's practice that he had enjoyed in Phillip Island and Thailand, finishing FP2 in second overall, just 0.051s behind his teammate Caricasulo. This theme continued in FP3 as he again ended the session in second, this time just 0.065s off the pace of his teammate but the best was yet to come. As the riders were waiting for pit lane to open for SP2, the rain started to fall and this saw everybody scramble to get out on their bikes as soon as possible and try and set a lap time on slicks before the track became too wet.
Flying out of his pit box, Mahias used all of his endurance racing experience - where you have to get up to speed immediately so as not to lose any precious time - to set a sensational flying lap at the first attempt. As the first man out on track, he had to assess the conditions as he arrived at each corner, pushing as hard as he could with the rain coming down hard and timing it to perfection to set a 1:53.042 and securing pole with his first flying lap. As the rain increased, it became impossible for anyone to beat his time, meaning the man from Mont-de-Marsan had secured his third pole position of the season - and fourth in six races - by a whopping 0.985s. Mahias now heads into Sunday's race confident he has the pace to battle at the front and looking to extend his championship lead.
His teammate Caricasulo had ended Friday on top of the timesheets as the local hero showed devastating pace around the Imola circuit. He followed this up by topping FP3 on Saturday morning with a 1:51.284 and heading into SP2 he was the man to beat. Heading out on track at the same time as his teammate Mahias, he rode very cleverly and without taking too many risks, safe in the knowledge that his race pace for Sunday would allow him to fight for the win as long as he was not too far back on the grid. The 22-year-old Italian could not quite match Mahias on his first flying lap but still managed to set a 1:54.949 to secure fourth in SP2 and he will start Sunday's race from the head of the second row with the perfect opportunity to fight for the victory.
European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola has been focusing on his improvement over a race weekend in his rookie year in the WorldSSP class after making the step up from the WorldSSP300 championship. The inaugural Yamaha R3 Challenge Cup winner showed how far he has grown as a rider by improving from a 1:55.979 in FP1, to a 1:54.874 in FP2 to finish Friday in 29th overall. The impressive progress continued in FP3 with the 20-year-old Italian shaving almost 0.5s off his best time to set a 1:54.414. He carried this form into SP1 where, sensationally, he managed to improve by almost a second to a 1:53.559 and he will now line up 23rd on the grid for Sunday's race, determined to fight for his first WorldSSP Championship point.
After the changeable conditions on Saturday, Sunday's forecast is for blue skies and a high of 25°C and the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are looking forward to hitting the track at 9:10 am local time (CEST) for Warm Up, with the 17-lap race due to start at 11:30 am. Check out the WorldSSP qualifying results.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:53.042
"I am very happy! Today was very good for me. I liked the qualifying situation, it was so exciting to start with the rain coming down. I have a lot of experience in endurance racing, where you have to go fast right from your out lap, and in this kind of situation, I am pretty quick. For sure, it was very difficult because when I started I knew I would have only one lap to try and secure pole position. On the second lap, with the rain, it was impossible to go faster. I tried to exit first, I overtook Federico and I was the first person out on track. This made it hard as I was entering corners not knowing if it was wet or dry but I just pushed and pushed as much as I could. In Sector 3 for instance, I could smell the water on the track and it was very difficult. I looked at my lap time and thought it was okay, and I saw that had opened a gap on Federico so maybe it would be okay and from that moment, I was hoping it rained a lot. Pole position is great for the team, after two tricky races we had lots of meetings and we worked very hard and this is good for the atmosphere and feeling with the team. My race pace is really good, in the last two races I had to really push to just follow the other riders but now I have a really good feeling with the bike and my confidence is back! I feel really good for the race, I hope tomorrow it is a good race without lots of red flags like last year, for the riders and the fans too."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 1:54.949
"I am not happy with P4 as I have been very fast all weekend in the dry and then in SP2, it was tricky as we had just one lap to try and set the fastest time. It is not easy to push on the limit on just your first lap in wet conditions with slick tyres and Lucas was very strong but it is still good to start from the second row, pole position just would have been better. I am very confident for the race because I have a good rhythm, I am happy with my bike and we just need to find the right tyre and I think I can battle for the win in the race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 23rd - 1:53.559
"I am happy with a 1:53.5! It is a good lap and I managed to improve 2.5s from my best time in FP1. At the start of the weekend, it would have been impossible for me to do a 1:53.5 but I worked hard with my team and we made a really good step. Imola is a very tough and physical track so to improve this much is good and we closed the gap to the guys at the front a lot. Tomorrow will be a tough and physical race, 17 laps around Imola in the heat will be tough but it will be a good experience for me as I look to keep on building my strength and fitness on the R6. I am really looking forward to the race and I would like to thank my GRT team for all their hard work and Yamaha for the opportunity and their belief in me!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"We had an amazing qualifying today, it was very different but all the riders and the team did an amazing job! Lucas is very confident in changing conditions, even if it meant we had to change our team strategy but we always focus on getting the best result. Lucas and his whole team were very clever and he just pushed as much as he could, controlling the risk, and we knew if he could get the quickest first lap he would secure pole position. It was very good work and it was great for the team. For Federico, we are confident in his pace, even if he will have to start from fourth. He was very intelligent as he knew he had a very good race pace and he didn't want to take too many risks in the tricky conditions but also needed to qualify as close to the front as possible and starting from the second row we know he has the pace to challenge for the race win. Alfonso has shown continuous improvement. Once again he hit the lap time target that we set him and the whole team made a big step today and his improvement is very impressive. I would like to thank the whole team as they have shown that in all conditions we can be fighting at the front and thank you to Yamaha for supporting us so well."
Disappointment for Tuuli as Irwin improves
Posted on 12th May 2018
In Superpole 1 this afternoon CIA Landlord Insurance Honda’s Niki Tuuli missed going through to Superpole 2 by 0.2s and will start tomorrow’s 17-lap World Supersport race in fifteenth place from the fifth row of the grid.
Tuuli said: “In Superpole I couldn’t put one fast lap together. All of my first lap I had a rider in front of me. I couldn’t pass him straight so I lost some time. It’s been a good weekend so far but now I’m not happy. I still think we have good race pace and can do a good job tomorrow. I am going to do my best tomorrow and we’ll see where we can end. Thanks to the team.”
Teammate Ulsterman Andrew Irwin made another improvement in Superpole 1 posting a lap of 1’53.444. Irwin qualified in 22nd position and heads up the eighth row of the grid.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “We have to say that was a really disappointing session. Niki did correct some of the things, he was better through the chicane which was where he was losing time then he lost time in other sectors. For sure the bike and Niki had another second a lap in that so it’s disappointing to only start fifteenth but that is what we have to deal with. Now we need a strong start tomorrow and Niki needs to really fight to get with the leading group and see what he can do in the race.”
“Andrew improved again and that’s a good thing. Obviously we’d like to be a bit higher than 22nd but like we said before, this is one of the hardest tracks of the calendar to learn so he’s progressed every session. He also needs a good start like in Assen and with his confidence growing fighting for a point is a realistic possibility for him.”
WorldSSP300: History made as Carrasco flies to pole
First Superpole for the Spaniard in WorldSSP300
Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) made history around Imola
An extraordinarily fast Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) clinched the third Superpole of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season, smashing the track record and beating the second rider by nearly a second. Carrasco is the first female rider to take pole in the WorldSSP300 category.
The qualifying was drama-filled from the first moment, with notable absences in the Superpole 2. Both race winners of 2018, Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) and Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) were unable to make it through the Superpole 1, as was the case with last year’s poleman Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), who crashed after just three laps.
At the start of Superpole 2, Carrasco stayed behind from the pack, as the other riders huddled together in an attempt to use the brief slipstream moments Imola allows for. Riding by herself proved to be an excellent strategy, as the Spaniard set fastest lap after fastest lap. After also topping the charts in the Free Practice sessions on Friday, she will be confident at her chances of a first win in 2018.
Behind Carrasco, championship leader Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) came in second, and will be accompanied on by fellow Dutchman and teammate Robert Schotman (Motoport Kawasaki), with his first front row start of the year. One event rider Manuel Bastianelli (PRODINA IRCOS Team) was the first home racer on the grid in fourth, followed by Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) and wildcard Kevin Sabatucci (PROGP Racing).
Pole Position - Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team)
"I am really happy today, we changed something from yesterday and I want to say thanks to the team. It's good for us to start from the pole position, we have a good lap time and we hope to make a good race tomorrow."
#ImolaWorldSBK WorldSSP300 at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo d Dino Ferrari di Imola: Tissot-Superpole 2
1. Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team)
2. Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) +0.982
3. Robert Schotman (Motoport Kawasaki) +1.007