Biaggi powers to the top in Miller first qualifying

Max Biaggi powered his Aprilia RSV4 to the top of the timesheets in today’s opening qualifying run at Miller Motorsports Park. The Italian made a late surge towards the end of the one-hour session to edge American Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) off the top slot with a time of 1 minute 49.820 seconds. Spies was just one-tenth away from Biaggi’s time, and the two riders were the only ones to dip under the 1m50s mark around the 4.907 km long Utah circuit. Biaggi also looked pretty impressive in top speed as well, his Aprilia clocking almost 307 km/h on the long Miller straight.

Equally impressive was last year’s double race winner Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) of Spain, who has been quick out of the box since the start of the day, and who led a total of 12 riders in one second, while Czech Republic rider Jakub Smrz on the Guandalini Ducati 1098 headed Italian Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) for fourth. American Jamie Hacking is standing in well for the injured Makoto Tamada in the Kawasaki World Superbike team, the American grabbing the sixth slot ahead of Britain’s Shane Byrne on the Sterilgarda Ducati 1098 machine.

Yukio Kagayama, quickest in free practice, crashed his Suzuki Alstare GSX-R in qualifying but still managed to notch up eighth place, while points leader Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) is currently languishing in eleventh place. Still with work to do for the moment are the BMWs of Troy Corser, who had previously gone second in free practice, and Ruben Xaus, in fourteenth and seventeenth place respectively.

World Supersport

The FIM Supersport World Championship made its first appearance at Miller Motorsport and for this reason riders and teams had two free practice sessions instead of one so they could get to grips with the Utah circuit.

Quickest time of the day went to Spain’s Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec) in 1 minute 53.350 seconds, a couple of tenths ahead of Ireland’s Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) and Frenchman Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport).

Points leader Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) was quickest in the first session but could only manage sixth in FP2, just behind the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda champion pairing of Kenan Sofuoglu and Andrew Pitt.

The afternoon session was brought to a halt just before the end due to a crash involving Portugal’s Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda), who was immediately taken to the medical centre for checks.

— Team Reports
— Yamaha

Spies shows there’s no place like home in the Utah sunshine

As the Superbike riders got down to the first day of qualifying at the Miller circuit today it was no surprises for Yamaha World Superbike rider Ben Spies as he showed the form that’s seen him win here in five of his last six visits in the AMA Championship. The Texan’s smooth lines and confident pace saw him finish the first free practice session of the day top of the leader boards. The afternoon qualifying session saw much of the same as Spies laid down consistently fast laps to end the day one place off provisional pole with a time of 1’49.901.

Team-mate Tom Sykes spent the free practice session working hard to familiarize himself with what is another new circuit for him in the 2009 championship. The afternoon’s qualifying saw him capitalize on the earlier session, finding an extra second and a half through qualifying whilst he worked hard with his team to find a good set up for the track.

Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team (2nd, 1’49.901)
“today went really good, we got down to some decent times and we were working on the race set up. We definitely can improve it though. We were stuck with the gearbox setting today and didn’t have time to change it before the end of the session, it wasn’t ideal but it was good to get some good times with what we had. Tomorrow we’ll go in and make some changes with the bike and come out swinging.”

Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (19th, 1’51.387)
“It was quite a steady day, but I think we have a lot of improvements to make. We found 1.5 seconds in the last session from this morning which is great, I’m sure we can make another significant step tomorrow. We’ll go to bed tonight, have time to sleep on it and think about the circuit, take it all in and am pretty confident the boys and I will have something even better tomorrow.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team
“Part of the day went well for us. We have some more time to spend on Tom’s side. The track is not so easy to learn and it’s his first time riding here. We will maybe make some comparisons between Tom and Ben and help Tom find where he’s missing something on the lap. We will continue to work hard on both sides of the garage to find improvements for tomorrow’s sessions.”

Yamaha World Supersport make short work of their first US session

Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow took to the Miller circuit for the first time today for Friday’s free practice session. As with all Supersport riders with the exception of Sofuoglu this is Crutchlow’s first visit to the track. As usual the young British rider showed his natural flair for adapting quickly and took no time to get to into the top half of the time sheet in the first free session, laying down consistently fast laps. The second session was not so smooth, some issues meant changing to the second bike mid-way and Crutchlow struggled to find the pace again before the end.

Team-mate Fabien Foret was on top form, with 20 minutes to go to the end of the first session he posted the fastest time and went straight into the top slot with a 1’54.99 lap. The French rider has continued to get faster and faster over the season, proving last year’s crash at Brno is now well and truly behind him. As the first session drew to a close Foret was in fifth. The second free practice session saw more of the same confident pace as Foret continued to enjoy the circuit, laying down consistently fast laps to finish with a provisional third and a front row start.

Fabien Foret, Yamaha World Supersport Team, (3rd, 1’53.573)
“I’m actually really enjoying the track and my bike too. I’m very happy with how the bike is right now. I did quite a few laps and I think my race pace is pretty ok. Until now it’s all good, we’ll keep working and try to make the bike a bit better in a few places. Basically it’s a good first day.”

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha World Supersport Team (6th, 1’53.956)
“It was a poor day for us to be honest, we’re normally a lot more up there than that but we had a few problems over the day, and in the last session especially so we’ll have to try and make sure we work on our areas where we’re not the best for tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be up there again.”

Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport Team
“both riders liked the track and settings wise we are quite pleased especially Fabien I have to say, he’s really happy with the set up and the track especially which is good because since Kyalami he needed a bit of a lift. It’s good he’s started with the same pace as South Africa. Cal had a little bit of a problem with one bike so needed to change bikes halfway through the session and he was still trying to find the right gearing so he was a little bit slower than the morning session. For tomorrow I think everything will be fine.”

—  Honda Reports

Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa today earned himself a provisional front row starting position for Sunday’s two seventh round World Superbike championship races at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, USA.

In hot conditions with track temperatures around 52 degrees, the Spanish ace set the third fastest time in this afternoon’s first qualifying session, with Italian Max Biaggi taking provisional pole position for the two 21-lap races around the 4.9km Miller circuit.

On his first visit to the circuit, Checa’s team-mate, Jonathan Rea, who was on the podium last time out at Kyalami in South Africa, set the tenth fastest time this afternoon and is confident of improvement in tomorrow’s qualifying and Superpole sessions.

Carlos Checa – P3, 1’ 50.144s
Well, it looks like we’re on the pace at the moment. As we know from last year, the track suits the whole package really well but I think it will be a lot more difficult this year. Ben (Spies) and Max (Biaggi) are up there, too, and I’m sure Haga will come good tomorrow as well. But we have the speed and consistency of speed, which is important. The tyres are working well, although we have a couple of issues with the softer tyre, which is causing the bike to chatter a bit. However, I’m sure this is something we can work on and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

Jonathan Rea – P10, 1’50.740s
All my problems seem to be in the first sector, which is where I need to pull my finger out. We don’t know what the specific problem is but it seems to come when I’m leant right over on the tyre. We’ll have a good look later and overlay the data from my two team-mates to see what we can improve. We haven’t even started throwing tyres at the bike yet but, of course, there’s a lot more time to come from me – it’s my first visit here and I’m learning the track a little more in each session. But I really like it here; it’s fast and flowing and really suits my style, so I just need to remove that mental block in the first sector and we’ll be there.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager
We were pretty quick out of the blocks this morning, especially with Carlos, so we’re really now working on fine-tuning the set-up and improving the race pace. We weren’t too bothered about a single fast lap in that qualifying session. I’m happy for Jonathan, too, who is one of very few guys out there who haven’t been here before. His only real problem is in the first sector, so we’ll analyse that with the data guys tonight and see what we can improve for tomorrow.

High temperatures and moderate lap times opened the first day of qualifying for the Stiggy Honda squad in the seventh round of the Superbike World Championship at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah today.

Leon Haslam and Jake Zemkewho is wearing the Stiggy colours for the second time, substituting the injured John Hopkinsstarted their first laps around the 4.907 km long track in Utah in a moderate but positive way.

Haslam showed his pace and rhythm are not so bad, but is still looking for the adjustments to further improve his lap times and find the connection with the front of the field. The Miller Sports Park is a regular feature in the AMA championship, and Jake Zemke used his experience on the Utah track to find a good set up for his bike and aim for his first Superpole qualifying tomorrow.

Max Biaggi topped the sheets on his Aprillia in 1’49.820s, while Jake Zemke finished the first day of qualifying in a best time of 1’51.072s, closely followed by Leon Haslam in 1’51.389s.

Jake Zemke, 1’51.072s:
” It has been an encouraging day. We have definitely made a lot of progress with the bike from where we started at. We kept on moving forward, but it is a tough series. Just when you think you’ve improved half of a second, the rest of the field does the same. We are definitely working in the right direction and have some good ideas for tomorrow. I am a lot more comfortable riding the bike this time, than I did in Monza. The team is working hard to give me the settings I am more familiar with. We still have some time to improve, but we are getting closer to where we should be.”

Leon Haslam, 1’51.389s:
” I had a problem with one of my bikes in the first Free Practice session. We are not sure what it is yet, but will work on sorting that out tonight. For some reason, we seem to struggle a little with the set up of the bike on this track. I have done a lot of in-and-out laps, and towards the end I was able to put in consistently fast laps. We are still 1.5s off the time we should be riding, but to be able to ride consistently fast lap times is a good thing on this track. I hope we can make a leap forward tomorrow in the second qualifying. ”

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“Jake is doing a good job here on the track he knows well. We have some issues with the suspension of the bikes, specially with Leon’s machine. He is far off from where he should be at the moment. We will be working on that overnight and prepare a better machine for tomorrow’s session. It is Leon’s first outing on this track and with this team, but even though, we should be able to progress to the front of the field. We will consider this day as a learning day and use the data we have collected now to further improve and do better tomorrow.

Ten Kate Honda Racing’s Ryuichi Kiyonari set the ninth fastest time in today’s opening qualifying session in the seventh round World Superbike championship event at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, USA.

The Japanese ace, who scored a double podium result during round five at Monza in Italy earlier this month, set a time of 1’50.701s, less than a second off provisional pole sitter, Max Biaggi.

Kiyonari is already more than a second faster than his corresponding time on the opening day of last season’s event at the 4.9km Miller circuit and the Japanese ace is confident of further improvement in tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions, including the three-stage Superpole shoot out to determine grid positions for Sunday’s two 21-lap encounters.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P9, 1’50.701s
It was very hot this afternoon and I found it very hard to improve the lap time that I set quite early in the session. I have a much better feeling with the track than last year, but everybody else has improved as well. The bike is very good, though, so we’ll only make some small changes tomorrow. We need a small improvement in every corner – something from the rider and something from the bike.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Kiyonari-san was in much better form today than on the first day last year, and he has shown that he has the pace to be near the front. We’ll continue working hard tonight to look for ways to improve and we’ll aim to put that into practice for tomorrow’s sessions to give Kiyo a good starting position for Sunday’s races.

Kenan Sofuoglu and Andrew Pitt set the fourth and fifth fastest times in today’s free practice session in preparation for Sunday’s seventh round World Supersport championship race at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City in the USA.

Sofuoglu was less than three tenths of a second from the provisional pole position time of 1’53.350s set by Spain’s Joan Lascorz. The Turkish rider’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Pitt, was a further two tenths back as just one second split the top eight riders.

Tomorrow sees a further free practice session in the morning before a 45-minute timed qualifying session in the afternoon to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s 18-lap race around the 4.9km Miller circuit.

Kenan Sofuoglu – P4, 1’53.637s
The CBR is so completely different from the Superbike I rode here last year, so track knowledge was not really an advantage. This morning we tried a completely different set-up but, to be honest, it was a bit too much for me so we went back a step. It has definitely taken us in the right direction and hopefully tomorrow we can improve it a little more. There is no reason why we should not be on the front row tomorrow, so that will be our target, as well as getting a better set-up for Sunday.

Andrew Pitt – P5, 1’53.844s
I’m learning my way around here and I like it. We also made a step forward with the bike between the two sessions, so we’re getting there. We solved one problem but that’s kind of detracted from the positive aspects of the bike, so there’s definitely some work to do. But I’m feeling positive and looking forward to some more improvements tomorrow.

The Supersport riders set out to complete their maiden laps at the Miller Motorsports Park in the first World Supersport event which runs today through Sunday on the 4.907 km long track in Utah.

Anthony West and Gianluca Vizziello opened their first laps in a quiet mode, but gradually picked up the pace and improved their lap times. West is still anticipating to refresh his competitiveness though, and was slightly less satisfied with the lap times he set in today’s sessions than his team mate Vizziello.

For the seventh round of the championship the team has attracted a new suspension specialist to tackle the specific issues that have plagued the Supersport team in their last outings. Vizziello seems to have found confidence with the arrival of the new suspension specialist and managed to improve his fastest time set in the early afternoon qualifying by nearly two-seconds in the Second Practice.

West will be able to further improve his time in the third free practice and first qualifying session tomorrow, and is hoping to make a step forward to the front of the field.

Anthony West, 1’55.012s:
” It was a tough session for me today. I am still not confident with the set up of my machine. We have made some improvements to the suspension and solved some of the issues we had with the front, but I am still not as competitive as I need to be. We need to find some important seconds in tomorrow’s session.”

Gianluca Vizziello, 1’57.287s:
” Today’s sessions went alright, We managed to find a set up that works on this track and from which we can move forward. We have an extra specialist in the team and extra time and effort he has been putting in is already showing off. We have been able to find good solutions for some of the issues we had and I am convinced we can improve another second in tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
” We have a new specialist, who we have worked with in the past, and can already see a clear progress in the development of the chassis. We still have some issues to solve, but we have been improving throughout the sessions today. We will continue the work and progress in tomorrow’s sessions and will hopefully be able to become faster and improve our lap times.”

— Ducati Report

The Ducati Xerox Team kicked off their quest for Stateside victory today at the Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City. With track temperatures in the high forties, factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga completed the first qualifying session in fifth and eleventh place respectively, after battling against some tough competition that included Biaggi, Spies and Checa. Noriyuki and Michel, currently first and second in the rider classification, both remain optimistic for tomorrow despite one or two small problems suffered throughout today.

Noriyuki, who rode at the Miller circuit with a broken collarbone in 2008, has worked a lot today on the set-up of his Ducati 1198, riding with a full tank and race tyres. His team-mate Michel suffered from a technical problem in the crucial final stages of the qualifying session which prevented him from attaining a provisional place on the front row of the grid.

Michel Fabrizio 1m50.4s
“Towards the end of the session I had a problem with the gear box and I couldn’t put the bike into first so had to use second. Having said that, this is a track that I really like and we seem to be all set for tyres so if it hadn’t been for that set back I’d have been able to lap much faster in the final stages I think. So we hope all goes well tomorrow morning and that I am able to improve my lap times.”

Noriyuki Haga 1m50.7s
“I am fairly happy for the moment. Obviously I was here for the first time last year but with the crash and having to race with a broken collarbone, I remember very little and so today I have got to grips with the track again and I have to say that I’m enjoying riding my 1198 here. In the last part of the qualifying session we tried a harder tyre compound but unfortunately it didn’t allow me to improve my lap times, but despite this, I am feeling comfortable on the bike and we have time tomorrow to make further adjustments and pick up our performance.”

— Triumph Report

Team ParkinGo Triumph BE1 Racing did well in the first day of practice as both Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli have proven they can fight for a higher position on the starting grid. Both riders have easily learnt the Salt Lake City circuit, on which the WSS makes its debut. However, certain things have to improve tomorrow although the uncertain weather conditions could ruin the work done today.

GARRY McCOY | Triumph Daytona 675 | 8th in 1’54.339 : “Today’s time is a good one and I only hope to replicate it tomorrow. Learning the track wasn’t hard at all and so I set fast times. I wanted to improve in the last few minutes but, as I was getting back on the track the red flag was displayed due to Praia’s crash and I preferred to leave it till tomorrow”.

GIANLUCA NANNELLI | Triumph Daytona 675 | 12th in 1’54.614 : “I got a good feeling with both track and bike as I decided to work on the Kyalami setup. I scored a satisfactory result and preferred to finish the session without replacing the tyres which could help tomorrow. I’m really confident as everything seems easy just as In South Africa”.

  1. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.820
  2.  Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 1’49.901
  3.  Checa C. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 1’50.144
  4.  Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’50.282
  5. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’50.457
  6. Hacking J. (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’50.466
  7. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’50.512
  8. Kagayama Y. (JPN) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 1’50.556
  9.  Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1’50.701
  10. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’50.740
  11.  Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’50.755
  12.  Muggeridge K. (AUS) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 1’50.757
  13.  Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’50.961
  14.  Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’51.002
  15.  Lavilla G. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’51.046
  16.  Zemke J. (USA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’51.072
  17.  Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1’51.216
  18.  Nakano S. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’51.228
  19.  Sykes T. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’51.387
  20.  Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’51.389
  21.  Scassa L. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’51.430
  22.  Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’51.577
  23.  Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’51.596
  24.  Hill T. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’51.821
  25.  Nieto F. (ESP) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 1’52.037
  26.  Nigon E. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R1 1’52.932
  1.  Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’53.350
  2. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.549
  3. Foret F. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’53.573
  4. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.637
  5. Pitt A. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.844
  6. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R6 1’53.956
  7. Aitchison M. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’54.333
  8. McCoy G. (AUS) Triumph Daytona 675 1’54.339
  9. Praia M. (POR) Honda CBR600RR 1’54.475
  10. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’54.598
  11. Pirro M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’54.599
  12. Nannelli G. (ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’54.614
  13. West A. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’55.012
  14. Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1’55.076
  15. Veneman B. (NED) Suzuki GSX-R600 1’55.287
  16. Pradita T. (INA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’55.305
  17. Vizziello G. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’55.400
  18. Roccoli M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’55.508
  19. Harms R. (DEN) Honda CBR600RR 1’55.679
  20. Perotti F. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’56.226
  21. Laverty M. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R6 1’56.233
  22. Holland R. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’56.292
  23. Vostárek P. (CZE) Honda CBR600RR 1’56.593
  24. Polita A. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R600 1’56.611
  25. Günther J. (GER) Honda CBR600RR 1’57.241
  26. Vos A. (NED) Honda CBR600RR 1’57.470
  27. Guerra Y. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.093
  28. Nelson A. (CAN) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.742
  29. Pianykh O. (RUS) Yamaha YZF R6 2’00.064
  30. Paris M. (USA) Yamaha YZF R6 2’00.108
  31. Yates C. (USA) Suzuki GSX-R600 2’03.336
  32. Boucher M. (CAN) Honda CBR600RR 2’03.799
  33. Taylor R. (CAN) Honda CBR600RR 2’07.376