Chaz Davies remained on top of the timesheets at the end of FP2 on Friday, with a 1’47.014 seeing him head Kawasaki Racing Team riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
After a morning session interrupted by a red flag, FP2 was completed without stoppage for entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 to be decided. Tom Sykes did suffer a problem during the second session that saw the Kawasaki rider forced to return to the pits, but after moving from P8 in FP1 to P2 in FP2, the Yorkshireman will easily go through to Superpole 2.
The first session of the day was red-flagged due to track conditions, with oil on the track from an incident with 35 minutes on the clock when Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes was the pacesetter. Once cleared, practice resumed some minutes later as the pit lane reopened at 11:05 local time (GMT +2), with Chaz Davies then taking almost four tenths off Sykes’ time as he started a run of continually faster laps, eventually setting a 1’47.517 that saw him top the morning session by half a second from MV Agusta rider Leon Camier.
Camier was another local hero of sorts as the Brit kept MV Agusta’s great morning form in the second session, maintaining the position of the improving bike high up the timesheets in P5, but 4th overall on combined results. Markus Reiterberger was another rider who impressed in the afternoon after a steady and solid start for Althea BMW on Friday morning, with the German moving up to P4 in the second session and fifth overall. His teammate Jordi Torres also moved up the timesheets in FP2 into P6, with the Catalan rider taking eight tenths off his time from the morning.
IodaRacing’s Lorenzo Savadori remained the fastest Italian on Friday thanks to his time in FP1, and alsoremained in the top ten in FP2, ending the session in P9 on his Aprilia and P7 overall. Compatriot Davide Giugliano, on the second Aruba.it Racing – Ducati machine, was 11th in FP2 but gains entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 from his earlier lap time that puts him in P9 on the combined list. Matteo Baiocco, riding as replacement for injured Fabio Menghi at VFT, ended his fantastic Friday with direct entry to Superpole 2 as 10th quickest overall, and was the quickest Italian in the second practice session. With extra home motivation, each can be satisfied with the first day on track and the chance to go for more glory in both Tissot-Superpole and Race 1 on Saturday.
Sylvain Guintoli, despite a small crash near the end of the second session, made sure to get his Pata Yamaha into Superpole 2 and improved his lap time from the morning to end FP2 in P7; ending the day 8th on the combined timesheets as the YZF R1 starts to feel at home in WorldSBK. Teammate Alex Lowes also ended the second practice session inside the top ten, but just lost out on the chance to graduate straight to Superpole 2 and will be fighting to move through Superpole 1 alongside Honda riders Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden.
Honda Official WorldSBK Team had a difficult first day at Imola. Number 69 Nicky Hayden is a rookie at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari however, and teammate Michael van der Mark has so far proven one of the most consistent frontrunners in the paddock, so with a great podium record so far in the season, there is progress sure to be found before the points are awarded.
Josh Brookes finished the opening day of practice 15th quickest, 2.2-seconds slower than Davies. Josh Hook rounded out the field in 24th position as he recovers from injury, the Grillini Kawasaki rider a further 5-seconds slower than Brookes.
“It’s been a good day. P1 this morning and P1 this afternoon…I can’t complain! It seemed like the bike was in the ballpark first thing this morning. I took it out and on the first run it felt like a few of the issues we struggled with last year were gone. Last year we had a different set of internal gear ratios and this year we’ve kind of changed our spread of gears a little bit and that immediately was a big help around here because Imola is quite critical for gear patterns. I’m pretty happy but I’ve got to keep in my mind that is only Friday, and keep working.”
Tom Sykes – P2
“It’s been a mixed one to be honest. In Session 1 we were a bit on the back foot trying various solutions and then in Session 2 the initial feeling was good but then I started to have a problem with the rear brake. Luckily the problem was in an area where I wasn’t on lean angle, and my mechanic skills came out and I was able to get the ZX-10R back to the garage. We went back out but the tyres weren’t fully up to temperature and I was nervous, but we still improved our lap time and the bike felt good. The guys did a great job and fixed the bike but then the problem reoccurred so it upset the rhythm and what we wanted to do but we need to be happy because the pace is not so bad. We just need to look at what the opposition are doing and pay big attention to that. But honestly speaking, we have a good base setting and some good information to use for tomorrow’s FP3.”
Jonathan Rea – P3
“Pretty good to be honest. It’s been great to get some dry track time. In Assen we had some new parts coming from the electronics side but we never got chance to use it and here we’ve just been chipping away at that. In the afternoon we managed a Race simulation to let the guys learn more and more and have good information. I think we learned a lot today. The position’s not so bad and I set my fastest lap in the middle of the race run so that’s quite encouraging and so for Friday, I’m quite happy.”
Leon Camier – P4
“Really really happy to be honest. We weren’t expecting to be this strong. There’s a few places we’re losing out that we’re hoping tomorrow can be reduced a bit, but all in all the chassis and electronics we’ve got working well. The problem is that tomorrow, the change we’re going to make with the engine is going to throw the electronics out a fair bit so we have to try and anticipate this as much as possible and be prepared for tomorrow morning because we’ve only got 15 minutes and then we’re straight into Superpole.”
Jordi Torres – P6
“At this point of the championship, we’re trying to find the bike’s limit, having accumulated a lot of information over previous weekends. Let’s say that we’re making lots of very small changes to improve the bike. This afternoon, I felt more confident and could push harder, which allowed me to set a fast time. There are still points of the track where we can improve, through the Variante Alta and Variante Bassa for example, because I struggle, with my particular riding style, with the changes of direction through the tight turns.”
Lorenzo Savadori – P7
“It was a good day for us. Ioda and Aprilia worked hard and I’m straight through to Superpole 2 so I’m very happy about that. Tomorrow I hope to improve the feeling with the bike and hope to make a good set up for the Race.”
Sylvain Guintoli – P8
“A small crash in my fastest lap at the end of the session was disappointing but we are still firmly in the top ten for Superpole tomorrow so this is a positive. We have been continuing to work on the race development for the majority of today as this is the main area we still need to improve. We will keep working tomorrow but, for me, I just need to get my head down, push hard and let the technicians do their job! The solutions we are looking for are very difficult to pinpoint but I have confidence that we will get there.”
Davide Giugliano – P9
“This track has suited me well in the past, but unfortunately we weren’t able to make the necessary steps forward today. I still can’t ride the way I want to, but for sure we’re not giving up, as we know we have the necessary tools to climb back. We simply have our work cut out for us. Unfortunately we won’t have much time to evaluate further changes before the race but, together with the team, we’ll think of all options, leaving no stone unturned. It will be very important to start strong tomorrow during FP3 to make a good Superpole, then anything can happen during the race.”
Alex Lowes – P11
“A difficult day for us to be honest, I love this track but everything has to be working in harmony to allow us to chip away and find the best rhythm and that was quite difficult today. I had a small crash at the end of the morning session which didn’t help but my main focus was to improve the performance on worn tyres. I felt quite good this afternoon until we reached about eight or nine laps and then we started to struggle a bit. We could do with another Friday to improve further before the first race really but I’m positive that the team, and myself, can make a decent step tomorrow morning and we will keep pushing for where we know we should be.”
Paul Denning – Yamaha Team Principal
“After the inconsistent weather at Assen and knowing the very technical character of the Imola Circuit we expected day one to be challenging here for the WorldSBK-specification YZF-R1 and so it has proved. We didn’t see the potential best lap of either rider with Alex’s best of a high ’47 being cancelled due to a very small infringement at the last chicane and Sylvain crashing at the same corner when he was on schedule for third or fourth position. So, as we have seen at recent events, the ultimate lap time for both riders is there, but on both sides of the garage we are still searching for consistency on used tyres and to avoid a big lap-time drop once the grip reduces. There is very little time to prepare tomorrow before the first race but everybody is committed to making big improvements overnight.”
Michael van der Mark – P14
“I would lie if I say I’m happy with how things have gone today. It looks like we have yet to find the key to be quick on this track and this has certainly put us on the back foot somewhat, because so far this year we have always been competitive right from the off. I have a feeling we have been skirting around the problems today, but I’m confident that the guys will find a way to make the bike work as well as it did before.”
Nicky Hayden – P16
“Overall it hasn’t been a positive day. Learning such a difficult track with this many elevation changes is never easy, plus there have been many little things that haven’t gone our way. Because of all this we couldn’t build any rhythm and make progress, and so now we have to try and make our way through Superpole 1. It’s really hard to tell how much is me being new here, or the bike set-up, because even Michael had his own struggles today. Right now, all we need to do is to get it together and refocus for tomorrow; hopefully we’ll be able to turn things around.”
“We’re obviously not happy with today’s results as we were expecting to be much higher up the timing sheets. We are now analysing the data gathered today but it seems that for some reason we struggled to find a setup that could give us a good grip around this track, and that applies to both riders. Of course, for Nicky it was also his first day of action here, which didn’t help. We now have a bit of time to go through everything in order to get a fresh start tomorrow morning.”
WorldSSP: Sofuoglu reigns as Krummenacher closes up
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Kenan Sofuoglu has topped the first practice session at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, leading ESS San Carlo Team Italia rider Alessandro Zaccone and his compatriot Federico Caricasulo. Reigning Champion Sofuoglu has thus far been chasing teammate Randy Krummenacher in the points standings since Phillip Island, and took advantage of his rookie teammate not knowing the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari to gain an advantage in the inter-team battle on Day 1.
Alessandro Zaccone, a rider forming part of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup, was the fastest Italian after a large improvement from FP1 to take his San Carlo Team Italia bike into P2, just ahead of fellow rookie Federico Caricasulo for Bardahl Evan Bros. Honda Racing. Both Zaccone and local Ravennate rider Caricasulo have shown great pace already in 2016 and further impressed at their home round, gaining entry to Tissot-Superpole 2.
Rookie Krummenacher ended FP1 in P11 after his first contact with the Imola circuit, and put in an incredible show of improvement in FP2 to end the day in P4 overall. Never having ridden at the daunting Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the Swiss Championship leader can be more than satisfied with a much reduced gap to his veteran teammate Sofuoglu after the second session of the weekend.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse had more home glory to be proud of with Frenchman Jules Cluzel ending Friday in P5, just ahead of key 2015 title rival PJ Jacobsen on the Honda in P6. GRT rider Gino Rea kept his MV Agusta in P6 just behind the American by the end of the opening day, despite a crash in the final five minutes of FP2. Lorenzo Zanetti, Cluzel’s MV Agusta Reparto Corse teammate, finished the day in P8 ahead of Ayrton Badovini from Team Lorini and Team GOELEVEN’s Ondrej Jezek in P9 and P10 respectively.
Kenan Sofuoglu – P1
“This track is good personally for me and in the past I had good results here. I like hard braking and I like the fast chicanes, they’re my style. The bike set up is very good, from this morning, and I’ve kept a similar set up. Now we play with the details in a small area and today when I did a long run I understood there’s something we need to change on the bike, but it was good that we got to do a long run. We can probably improve some tenths more. We’ll see in Superpole tomorrow, but it feels good, the team did a good job and the bike is at a good level.”
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