–  Fabrizio tops QP1 at P.I.

A close battled Qualifying 1 put an end to the first World Superbike day of 2013. The session was held under the clear skies of Phillip Island, with perfect temperatures and average winds blowing inland. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), after being the fastest rider of Free Practice 1, topped once again the timesheets thanks to a 1’31.317 lap-time, ahead of works Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty.

Michel Fabrizio: “We are working very well. I’m not fully satisfied yet because we still need to find the perfect set up for the race Fabrizio_Fri_300x250pdistance. Hopefully we’ll get it sorted tomorrow, and we’ll be ready for Sunday. Conditions were a bit more difficult during the afternoon compared to the morning, due primarily to the wind that made changing direction harder. Last Monday I was hit by a seagull on my arm while I was on the straight and I am still feeling the pain. I can say though, that we’re on the right direction. We’re planning on doing some small adjustments for tomorrow and these will hopefully make us improve further.”

Eugene Laverty: “This morning we weren’t extremely fast, but in the afternoon we made some changes on my RSV4 to adapt it to the conditions and we took a big step forward. My single lap is good, but the key is to maintain consistency for the entire race. There are a lot of riders who don’t stand out in the single lap but they’ve got an excellent race pace, and we’re also doing well in that department. I don’t have any particular problems and even when I’m lapping fast I’m careful not to wear the tyres quickly so that helps me to be consistent”.

The session was characterized by very competitive and balanced performances on track, considering the top-13 riders within a second and the five brands in the first seven positions. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) showed good form by finishing third, followed by Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), his team mate Chaz Davies, Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) and 2012 runner-up Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team).

Carlos Checa (Ducati Team Alstare) was on track this afternoon despite the spectacular crash he had in Free Practice 1 at Turn 5. The Spaniard ended the session in 12th position – after completing only 7 laps – ahead of Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing Ducati).

Times: 1. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’31.317 average 175.236 kph; 2. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’31.392; 3. Melandri (BMW) 1’31.539; 4. Camier (Suzuki) 1’31.608; 5. Davies (BMW) 1’31.638; 6. Haslam (Honda) 1’31.687; 7. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’31.754; 8. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’31.793; 9. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’31.863; 10. Rea (Honda) 1’31.884; 11. Stauffer (Honda) 1’31.984; 12. Checa (Ducati) 1’32.063; 13. Neukirchner (Ducati) 1’32.243; 14. Allerton (BMW) 1’32.352; 15. Baz (Kawasaki) 1’32.497; 16. Badovini (Ducati) 1’32.540; 17. Clementi (BMW) 1’32.757; 18. Cluzel (Suzuki) 1’32.801; 19. Sandi (Kawasaki) 1’32.898; 20. Iannuzzo (BMW) 1’33.082; 21. Lundh (Kawasaki) 1’33.305

World Supersport – Lowes makes the difference today at Phillip Island

An astonishing 1’32.545 lap-time was set today by Sam Lowes in World Supersport Qualifying 1, that put the Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha rider on top of the timesheets and set a new standard for the recently resurfaced Phillip Island Circuit. As a difference from today’s first session, Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki) could not nearly match the superb performance of Lowes and finished once again with a solid 2nd place, with a 1.119 gap from his rival.Hook_Crash_300x250p

ParkinGO MV Agusta Corse Roberto Rolfo makes a big step forward by finishing QP1 on third place, ahead of rookies Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) and Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda). Andrea Antonelli (Team Goeleven Kawasaki) and van der Mark’s team mate Lorenzo Zanetti enter the top-10 as sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Massimo Roccoli (Team Pata by Martini Yamaha) and the two British riders Kev Coghlan (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini) and Christian Iddon (ParkinGO MV Agusta Corse).

The session started with some drops of rain falling on parts of the track, temperatures were overall ideal with 28° C in the air and 43° C on the track.

Times: 1. Lowes (Yamaha) 1’32.545 average 172.910 kph; 2. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1’33.664; 3. Rolfo (MV Agusta) 1’34.081; 4. Vd Mark (Honda) 1’34.106; 5. Kennedy (Honda) 1’34.143; 6. Antonelli (Kawasaki) 1’34.359; 7. Zanetti (Honda) 1’34.465; 8. Roccoli (Yamaha) 1’34.466; 9. Coghlan (Kawasaki) 1’34.484; 10. Iddon (MV Agusta) 1’34.551; etc.

– Team Honda Australia (Wildcards)

A strong day of qualifying practice for Team Honda Racing at the World Superbike event at Phillip Island today. The #21 Honda CBR1000RR of Jamie Stauffer recorded the 11th fastest time in Qualifying Practice 1 only .667 sec behind the outright fastest lap time of the session.

With Stauffer’s lap times improving after the team made some changes to the bike settings, a bold tyre change with just minutes to go in the Qualifying Practice session paid off and Stauffer was able to finish the session with his fastest lap time of the event so far.

Stauffer: “We had a good day overall; we tried a few suspension settings and a few different tyres to see what worked best on the new track surface and towards the end of Qualifying we put in new front and rear tyres and were able to do a couple of fast lap times. Everything is looking good going into tomorrow. Our lap times are improving and the team are refining the bike settings so I think we will go well in tomorrow’s Qualifying and Superpole.”

In World Supersport Free Practice earlier today, after coming off the CBR600RR in spectacular fashion at turn 9, #16 Josh Hook was incredibly back on a motorcycle for the afternoon Qualifying session and finished in P18. Hook is eager to get back on the bike tomorrow.

Hook: “Today didn’t quite go to plan with a crash in free practice and it slowed our progress a little, but the team was brilliant. Within hours they had built me a brand new bike by switching engines into a new chassis and I was ready to go for Qualifying. A huge thanks to the team for their effort in making sure I am 100% ready for tomorrow’s practice and qualifying.”

– Fixi Suzuki

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier got the team’s 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship campaign off to a fine start today as he recorded the fourth quickest time during the first qualifying session.

Camier has shown strongly all week at the Australian circuit throughout the pre-season tests and continued with this vein of form during this morning’s first free practice session, where he finished third, and then by taking fourth – and a provisional second row start for Sunday’s races – this afternoon. Camier’s Yoshimura-powered GSX-R performed equally well and looked very much at home on the newly resurfaced and very fast 4,445m Phillip Island track, as he recorded a best time of 1’31.608 from his 16-laps in QP1. The Englishman will now look to consolidate his position in tomorrow’s second qualifying session to guarantee his place in the afternoon Superpole, to give him every chance of securing a good grid position for Sunday’s two races.Laverty_Fri_300p

Jules Cluzel made a steady and solid start to his first weekend of competitive action in the Superbike class. He completed 33 laps of the Australian circuit during the two sessions and produced a fastest time 1’32.801 to give him 18th place on the timesheets. Cluzel is gradually re-growing in confidence following the three big crashes he had in the tests and is confident he can make Superpole after tomorrow’s final qualifying.

Today’s warm and sunny conditions produced air and track temperatures of 26°C and 40°C respectively, but the strong gusting winds made conditions difficult for all riders. Michel Fabrizio on an Aprilia clocked the fastest time of the day.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will have a second qualifying session tomorrow morning where Camier and Cluzel will endeavour to confirm their places in the top-15 to make sure they are in the afternoon’s Superpole.

Leon Camier: “I never felt quite as comfortable out there today as I did in the tests, the conditions had changed quite a bit – the wind was in a different direction and it was a bit hotter. I struggled to get in one quick lap, but the quickest one that I did achieve I managed to do three or four of them in a row. If I could have put together a perfect lap I’m sure I could have been right up there and a good step quicker. All-in-all it’s not too bad, but with the change of conditions again it has altered the way the bike works and feels, so we’ve got to be really understanding of that come race-day. Also for one lap we need to understand exactly what we need to do for the conditions and how to manage it to get a good lap and grid position for Sunday.”

Jules Cluzel: “I’m not so happy, because I am lower than where I wanted to be after first qualifying and we also lost a bit of time at the end due to a technical issue. We now have only tomorrow morning to try to improve things and get in the top-15 for Superpole. It would be a good experience for me to be in Superpole, because I have never tried a qualifying tyre, so I am looking to do this. We lost something during the crash the other day, because my best lap time today was not as fast as the one I did on my second exit during the first day of the test, but we have time tomorrow to improve and make sure we’re ready for the first races of the year.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager: “It’s nice to get the 2013 World Superbike season started and today was very solid on Leon’s side and a little bit frustrating for Jules. One of Leon’s strong points as a rider is his ability to maintain lap-time when the tyres have suffered a lot of wear and he did that this morning by setting his fastest lap with over 20-laps on the rear tyre. This afternoon – even though he didn’t quite churn out the ultimate lap-time that he would liked to have done – the rhythm was still very positive and he’s looking good for race distance.

“For Jules, today was a case of ‘start again’ and regain his confidence. This morning’s session was very smooth and solid and he was building nicely this afternoon until he had a very unfortunate technical problem, which we are sure we will have a solution to and it won’t affect the bikes for the rest of the weekend. There is a lot to learn for Jules and the nature of this track is making it even more difficult, but we absolutely believe that his raw speed and talent will see him through to a much better result tomorrow and on race-day.”

– BMW Goldbet

The 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off and the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team have started the new season with great positions on the provisional first and second rows of the grid. Factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) finished today’s first qualifying practice at the curtain raiser in Phillip Island (AUS) in third. His new team-mate Chaz Davies (GBR) was fifth in his first ever qualifying session on his BMW S 1000 RR. Marco began the first qualifying session with the fastest times and was leading for a long duration. In the end, he had a gap of just 0.222 seconds to Michel Fabrizio (ITA), who qualified for the provisional pole position. Chaz classified in the middle of the field and catapulted himself up to fifth in the final minute of the session staying under the 1:32-mark for the first time.

Marco Melandri: Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:32.057 min (P6)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:31.539 min (P3)
“I’m happy with both of the sessions today. We have made good progress for the race. Our goal was to find a solution to preserve tyres and we have suceeded. The track and the bike have improved a lot and my shoulder is feeling much better. For the first time I was able to ride more than two laps without the pain increasing too much, so now I’m confident for the race. Tomorrow we’llLowes_Fri_300x250p continue our work. I’m feeling positive and looking forward to the race.”

Chaz Davies: Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:32.046 min (P5)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:31.638 min (P5)
“I am very happy. Since the last day of testing the guys have worked very hard and we came out with a good setting for today. Since we have been here, the RR has been improving all the time and everything is coming together now. I am starting to really feel like the bike is mine and I am starting to understand what effect the different changes have to this bike. In the beginning of the qualifying, we also did some work on a used tyre from the morning’s practice and I was really surprised how well the bike was working and how competitive the lap times were. For tomorrow, we’ll try to get a little bit more bump compliance in turning and we will work on fine tuning the electronics. I feel good about tomorrow when the most important thing is the Superpole – especially now as the grid is three to a row and not four.”

Serafino Foti (Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“The session this morning was not as positive as we would have hoped. Unfortunately Marco had a technical issue in free practice, which only allowed him to do seven laps. Between free practice and qualifyng practice the team worked very hard so that Marco could have a complete qualifying session in the afternoon. Marco was consistent over both sessions and this makes us really confident for the race. Chaz also did a very good job, he’s improving his feeling with the bike and he’s happy with today’s results. I’m very satisfied with the team; they have all done a very good job. We’re going to work to solve the issues we have experienced ready for the race on Sunday.”

Andrea Dosoli (Technical Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“The qualifying practice went quite well for us. We have improved the consistency of our performance; we have tried the new tyres from Pirelli but also made some important changes to the settings of the bikes. Both riders benefitted from these changes and from the tyres. There are few areas where we are losing a bit of time but overall we are happy with the job we have done. Chaz improved his speed over one fast lap clocking his first 1:31-lap since we arrived here, while Marco did consistently fast lap times over a long period. Tomorrow we have still one more tyre to be tested before Superpole and we will work again on the tyre life and on the overall fine tuning.”

– Aprilia Report

There are two Aprilias out front on the first day of test sessions for the Australian Superbike weekend: Michel Fabrizio’s private RSV4 and Eugene Laverty’s number 58, while team mate Sylvain Guintoli ended the day in ninth place. The qualifying session had 13 riders packed into less than one second, an extremely tight ranking in terms of a single lap, but this shifts a bit where race pace is concerned.

In fact, as foreshadowed by the recent testing, tyre wear will be a crucial point for the races. Precisely for this reason Aprilia Racing focused on their long distance work, managing to find a good compromise between pure speed and consistent pace. There are still two more 45 minute sessions before the races and they will be crucial for last minute fine tuning and for choosing the best performance tyre option. The fast Phillip Island track has proved to be very selective, as is demonstrated by the numerous crashes both in Superbike and the other categories.

Eugene Laverty, second in the qualifiers, feels satisfied with his situation: “This morning we weren’t extremely fast, but in the afternoon we made some changes on my RSV4 to adapt it to the conditions and we took a big step forward. My single lap is good, but the key is to maintain consistency for the entire race. There are a lot of riders who don’t stand out in the single lap but they’ve got an excellent race pace, and we’re also doing well in that department. I don’t have any particular problems and even when I’m lapping fast I’m careful not to wear the tyres quickly so that helps me to be consistent”. Lowes_WSS_300x250p

It was a good day for Sylvain Guintoli as well, by now perfectly at ease both with the super fast Aprilia RSV4 and with his new team: “It was definitely a positive day. I’m able to ride comfortably and that allows me to maintain a good pace over several laps. We weren’t able to get in a really fast lap because we were testing a front tyre that was softer than what I needed, but the important thing is that we know we can still shave a few tenths off. Tomorrow it will be crucial to get everything sorted, put in a good Superpole and be ready for the races on Sunday”.

– Althea Ducati

Today the 2013 World Superbike Championship started on the Philip Island track in Australia. A historic day for the Althea Racing team which deals with an Aprilia RSV4 for the first time. The first practice session was held on a dry track and a sunny skies. Davide Giugliano and his technicians have worked in occasion to Sunday’s races, with an emphasis on tire choice. At the end of the session, Giugliano occupied the tenth place with a time of 1’32 “315. In the afternoon session the wind and the heat factors made it more difficult for the technicians and
Davide to work but they still managed to improve and achieve eighth place with a time of 1’31 “793. Beyond the ranking of the team Genesio Bevilacqua is satisfied with the work and is ready for tomorrow’s dispute of the second round of qualifying and the first Superpole of the season.

Genesio Bevilacqua : “It has been a good day. Davide and the team have worked hard, without looking for the lap time, but focusing on finding an arrangement that allows us to use the tires for many laps. In the afternoon, despite the conditions were more difficult, due to the heat and the wind, Giugliano has improved, although he was not able to do a faster lap that would allow him in a better ranking. Tomorrow we will continue in the same direction of today and we are confident we can do well.”

Davide Giugliano : “Overall I can say I am satisfied. The only conflicting note is the ranking position, which is certainly not what I wanted to achieve. I could not ride particularly fast, but it does not bother me because the important thing is to work on the race. We are looking for a faster rate and an arrangement that allows us to go strong for many laps. Forcing my pace today we found some small problems we did not know and which helped us to improve the bike. I am sure that tomorrow things will go better and I will improve even my ranking.”

– Pata Honda

The Pata Honda World Superbike Team helped get the 2013 championship officially underway in today’s opening practice sessions at Phillip Island in Australia. New team member Leon Haslam ended the day sixth fastest behind provisional pole sitter, Michel Fabrizio, while Jonathan Rea was just two tenths of a second slower in tenth.

After an overcast morning, today’s first qualifying session took place in warm and dry conditions at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit, following four days of testing which started last week.

Following a winter re-surface, the track is showing no signs of being any less abrasive on tyres and both Pata Honda riders have been working on seeking a compromise of grip and longevity to get through Sunday’s two 22-lap, first-round races.

Leon Haslam – P6, 1m31.687s
It felt really good today and we were just concentrating hard on our race set-up. We got a tyre that we did race distance on and the lap times were as good as anybody’s so I’m happy with that. A couple of tyres are definitely not the option – they’re just blistering and I think a couple of people are suffering with that. I think I was only one of a few riders that didn’t use the soft tyre this afternoon so I was quite happy with the lap time, which felt quite easy and comfortable, and I’m happy with the progression we’re making. We’ll spend tomorrow working on tyre life and fine-tuning the electronics, which seem to change day-by-day with the weather and the wind. It’s getting stronger each day so I hope it doesn’t change direction tomorrow – otherwise we’ll have to start all over again!

Jonathan Rea – P10, 1m31.884s
I was excited and nervous this morning, starting a new season, but it was quite tough witnessing the Supersport session this morning, which was full of mayhem and five red flags. I was a little unsure about the track conditions to start but we worked slowly and surely through some electronics changes but, unfortunately, my comments were a little strange because we were struggling to make progress with my feeling on the bike. In the second session this afternoon we did a long run and I picked up a much better rhythm at the end and I felt a lot better on the bike. We still need to do more work with old tyres but we’re not so far away on used tyre pace. I feel we still need to do some work to get an out-and-out lap time. We’ve had a long de-brief and I think it’s clear that we can still improve the engine braking and the initial touch of the throttle.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
I think we’ve had quite a reasonable day. Every time Leon went out he was just fast and he didn’t really bother to put in a tyre to achieve a lap time, so that’s looking good. With Jonathan we’re still fine-tuning settings and we did a long run this afternoon. It was good to give him a bit more of a rhythm but I think we have to do more with the settings and compare to the test here, when we were a bit quicker. The biggest issue here is tyre life and finding a tyre that will do the distance.

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