|— Team Reports
— Honda Reports
In the first day of qualifying at Donington, the Stiggy Racing Honda pairing of Leon Haslam and John Hopkins opened the Superbike free practice in a great way, by setting the third and seventh fastest time respectively.
Leon Haslam was found in the top regions of the sheets throughout the session and closed the first practice in a third fastest time of 1’31.209s. John Hopkins made his re-appearance with the team after sitting out the last race at Misano and set the seventh fastest time of the free practice session in 1’31.894s.
Haslam and Hopkins both managed to keep their lap times fast and consistent in the afternoon’s first qualifying practice. Haslam squeezed out the day’s second fastest time of 131.191s in the last minutes of the session and finds himself just 0.4s off the pace set by provisional pole sitter Michel Fabrizio, while Hopkins is found in 14th position with a best time of 1’32.007s.
Leon Haslam, 1’31.191s:
“ I am pretty happy with my qualifying results today. It started off wet which was good to get a couple of wet laps in. It wasn’t a full wet session so we didn’t quite get the wet set-up sorted yet, but the dry set-up is good. We were doing well on an old tyre and able to go into the top three. Then we put a new tyre in towards the end and put the bike at second position. I am feeling really confident with what we have achieved so far. We still have a bit more to go and we’ll have to concentrate on doing some race runs tomorrow.”
John Hopkins, 1’32.007s:
“This morning it was all about losing up my hip and getting a good feeling with the bike again. I really enjoy riding the Donington track. The most important thing for me today was getting the feeling with the tyres and the bike again. I took it easy in the wet, but the lap times were still pretty good and pretty consistent. As soon as the track dried out, I stayed out and did over half a race distance. My last lap was my fastest lap, but I got hold up by Rea, otherwise I would have been even faster. But we are in the top 20 today and that’s the most important thing. We know that we can run a consistent pace on used tyres, that is one step forward for us. We’ll just have to see what the weather holds tomorrow.
Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“It was a very good day here. Leon has gone as fast as we expected. He has found his way quickly and is not far off his ideal race setting. We still have a few things to improve and to test, but I am confident we can work on that tomorrow. I am very pleased with John’s results. He has shown he is capable of being up there and is felling much better. The whole team is happy with this, John can finally show what he is capable of and push himself forward. We still have some things we will have to work on tomorrow, but right now it looks quite promising.”
Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea continued their familiarisation with new Ohlins suspension at Donington Park today as they prepared for Sunday’s two ninth-round World Superbike championship races.
As Michel Fabrizio took provisional pole position, Checa was ninth fastest today as changeable weather conditions put any extended dry track time at a premium. Once again, times were close, and the Spaniard finished today’s opening qualifying session just three tenths of a second off a provisional front row start.
Fresh from winning the last World Superbike race at Misano in Italy, Rea opened today’s free practice with an awkward crash at the slow Melbourne hairpin. The 22-year-old lost valuable track time and, with rain dominating this afternoon’s qualifying session, could only qualify in provisional 15th place.
Carlos Checa – P9, 1’31.736s
It was not really very good today but, this afternoon, when the track began to dry a little, we made some improvements from this morning. Of course, we are still finding many new areas to improve the Ohlins suspension but we are not quite in a good position for this circuit. We are losing time in the first two sections, where it is quite difficult to hold a line at high speed. It’s also difficult to control the power coming out of the slower corners, where there is not enough rear grip. I believe we can make some more steps forward tomorrow, however, to get closer to a better lap time.
Jonathan Rea – P15, 1’32.103s
It’s been a really tough day, actually. Because of the crash in this morning’s session, we were left with not a lot of track time and we realised pretty quickly that the settings from Misano certainly had not translated well to Donington. Then the second session started wet, which put us back a bit, although it started to dry with 25 minutes left. We made a big change this afternoon which just did not work, so at least we know which way we’re NOT going tomorrow!
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
We were realistic coming here and, as we are all aware, finding the correct settings for the new suspension will be quite hard for the first couple of races until we have a lot more data. In the wet and intermediate conditions, everything was working quite well but, in the dry, it is quite clear that we still have some way to go. We just hope for a lot more dry track time tomorrow to progress with finding the right setting.
Ryuichi Kiyonari faces a tough day at the ninth round World Superbike championship event at Donington Park tomorrow as he seeks to improve on the provisional 23rd fastest time he set at the 4.023km circuit in this afternoon’s opening qualifying session.
In wet conditions last year, the Japanese ace dominated qualifying and won the second race on his Honda CBR1000RR but Kiyonari acknowledges that he needs more time to adjust to new suspension components he is testing this weekend.
Italian Michel Fabrizio set the fastest time in this afternoon’s hour-long session but Kiyonari is confident of further improvement in tomorrow’s qualifying and free practice sessions, followed by Superpole to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s two 23-lap encounters.
Ryuichi Kiyonari – P23, 1’33.093s
It was very difficult for me today. We tried the new suspension parts but did not really get enough dry track time to set up the bike for a good qualifying time. There are some good points with the revised package, but the main problem is me – sometimes I take a long time to get used to new things. Tomorrow will give me more time, I hope, to improve everything.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
We still have some way to go until Kiyonari-san is comfortable with new components and finds a setting in which he feels confident enough push in the way he did here last year, when he won in spectacular style. We need some more dry time tomorrow to help him find that setting and we know he can be very fast here when he is happy with everything.
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda riders, Kenan Sofuoglu and Andrew Pitt, finished in fifth and 12th place after today’s opening free practice session for Sunday’s ninth round World Supersport championship race at Donington Park, UK.
As the Hannspree duo continued testing new suspension parts and combinations, it was Britain’s Cal Crutchlow who set the fastest time at the end of today’s hour-long practice session.
Sofuoglu was the more comfortable of the two Hannspree Ten Kate riders and was preparing for a quicker lap time before rain began to fall with ten minutes of the session remaining, forcing the Turkish rider to shelve his plans until tomorrow.
Kenan Sofuoglu – P5, 1’34.175s
We were going in a good direction since the race in America, but today we were still testing different suspension components. I’m quite happy with the package and was ready to go for a faster time, but the rain came at the end of the session. Tomorrow, we’ll keep going in the good direction and aim for a good grid position for Sunday’s race. I’m confident because I’m back with my 2006 mechanic Rutger this weekend, while Gert and his wife wait for their new baby. I send them all my best wishes and good luck!
Andrew Pitt – P12, 1’35.209s
It’s been difficult today because I haven’t really been able to grab any brakes without the rear coming round and trying to overtake me. In fact, there’s a bit of a problem with the rear generally, both on entry and exit when I’m trying to get the power down. It feels like I’m using a cold tyre for the whole lap, so we’re still looking for the right balance at the moment. We’ll keep looking in the morning and keep pushing forward.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
I think Kenan is already pretty much happy with everything, so we will use tomorrow for fine tuning and to get a good starting position for Sunday’s race. On Andrew’s side of the garage, there is a bit more work to do but we’re used to hard work and will spend a lot of time tonight seeing where we can improve things for tomorrow.
Stiggy Racing Honda Supersport squad started the opening day of the ninth round at Donington with a messy Supersport session.
Just three minutes into the session the red flag was raised following a crash by series leader Cal Crutchlow. The rain halted the restarted session halfway, and the remaining part of the 60-minute session was finished in wet conditions. Both riders continued to make progress with the set-up of their machines, with Anthony West setting his day in the ninth fastest time of 1’35.015s, followed by Gianluca Vizziello in 17th, with a best time of 1’35.507s.
West still finds himself 1.6s off the pace run by fastest man Cal Crutchlow, but is confident of further improvement this weekend.
Anthony West, 1’35.015s: The session went fine. We have made a big step forward with the set up, and might have found what the problem has been all year. I am happy with that, even though the position I am in at the moment is still not good. I feel like I can still go a lot faster now with what we just found, instead of feeling I am already at the limit. I hope our solution will work tomorrow, will either see if it does or not, we’ll have to put it into practice. I am confident we can make a step forward.”
Gianluca Vizziello, 1’35.507s: It went reasonably well today, but we will have to change some things for tomorrow. I am expecting more progression tomorrow, and hope I can keep my pace consistent. My 17th place is not satisfying and I will push myself further forward tomorrow. Hopefully I will be feeling fit again, as I have not been feeling well at all today.”
Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager: “The conditions in the Supersport session were not very good. It started to rain and we stayed in the garage for the last ten minutes of the session. The guys just need to find their confidence with the bikes here at this track. We are not there yet, but it is getting there step by step, even though I think it is a little too slow. But we are working on it and will try to push further in tomorrow’s sessions.”
— Ducati Report
Just as he did a week ago at Misano, Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio was once again the fastest rider in first qualifying, this time at Donington Park.
Very mixed conditions throughout the day meant that the Ducati Xerox squad, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, rode their Ducati 1198s both in the dry (in free practice) and in the wet.
In the early afternoon the Superbike riders took to the track for the first free practice session, in dry conditions. The British contingent immediately made its mark as was expected, with Camier, Haslam and Ellison all lapping very fast, but Italian Ducati Xerox man Michel Fabrizio held his own and gradually improved his times to close this initial session in fourth position. Team-mate Noriyuki was one of the fastest in the third sector of the track but was losing valuable tenths in the first and second splits, that meant he finished the hour-long session in eleventh place.
A rain shower arrived just a few minutes before the start of qualifying, forcing the teams to quickly change over to “wet” bikes. Having seen various riders, some of them unexpected, taking turns at the top of the timesheets in the wet, the track then quickly dried out mid-session. Both Ducati Xerox men were subsequently able to lower their lap times but, while Michel immediately found the way with his Ducati 1198 in the dry, his team-mate Noriyuki had more difficulty, again in the second split, lapping a second slower than the Italian. Fabrizio was the only rider to lap in under 1m31 today, taking provisional pole once again; Haga meanwhile closed today in tenth place.
Michel Fabrizio 1m30.7s
“It hasn’t gone at all badly. In the practice I had a few problems with my right arm, maybe because it hadn’t had time to recover from Misano, but it felt a lot better in qualifying. A few minutes before that session the rain came and it’s clear that in the wet we’re not yet where we should be. Thankfully the track dried out very fast and so in the last part of the session I was really able to push and record some fast laps. We know where we need to work if it turns out wet again tomorrow but for now I can say I’m satisfied with what we’ve accomplished today.”
Noriyuki Haga 1m31.7s
“Today wasn’t so easy for us. It’s the first time I am riding the Ducati 1198 here and I feel I need more track time. We tried some different settings because I’m having trouble through the fast corners, especially in the second split, where it seems that I can’t open the gas because the bike’s not reacting as it should. We know where we need to improve and so I hope it’s dry tomorrow to allow us to make the necessary progress.”
— Suzuki Report
The first qualifying session at the Donington World Superbike ninth round this afternoon was blighted by a rain shower at the beginning, but when the track dried out and conditions improved, Yukio Kagayama played cautious and guest rider Blake Young spent his time learning the circuit.
Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Kagayama took things steadily as he tried to find a good set-up for the different conditions. He finished 16th quickest, but is confident of significant improvement tomorrow.
For team mate, 21-year old American Young (pictured), who is riding the Suzuki Alstare Brux GSX-R1000 K9 for the very first time, it was a steep learning curve: Although he races a GSX-R1000 in the AMA Superbike Championship, the different regulations mean that the bikes are very different in specification and character and today he had to try and understand the bike whilst also learning Donington’s 4.023 kilometre circuit – and all this on unfamiliar tyres.
When the track did dry out, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) took provisional pole, with Leon Haslam (Honda) second, Ben Spies (Yamaha) third and Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) fourth.
Yukio Kagayama – 16th, 1:32.139:
“I am not happy with my position but I did find a good feeling with the bike and we know which direction to take tomorrow, so that is very positive. I did not have much grip in the first session today, but it was much better in qualifying. My foot is getting better and better and I did not have much big pain today. When the conditions are half-and-half, it is always difficult, so I took things steadily in the damp. Tomorrow we will try and improve the rear grip, maybe by changing the rear suspension and the bike’s geometry.”
Blake Young – 28th, 1:34.529:
“There is a lot for me to learn in a very short time, but I am really enjoying myself here. This bike is completely different to the Suzuki I ride in the States and has a lot more electronics on it. The wheels are a different size (16.5), the tyres are different; and I also have to figure out which way round the track goes at the same time! I just need time on the bike and it is important for me to put in as many laps as possible so I can get used to it and go faster.
— BMW Report
Ruben and Troy finished 17th and 20th in a tough qualifying at Donington today, but the lap times are close and a fraction of a second less would’ve placed Ruben in the top ten. The untimed first session took place in the dry, but the second (timed) session started with a damp track, causing many riders to wait and see if conditions improved. The track did dry out and Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) took provisional pole, with Leon Haslam (Honda) second, Ben Spies (Yamaha) third and Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) fourth.
Ruben – 17th, 1:32.186
Before we weren’t able to go fast in the wet, but today I was leading the standings for quite a long time. Then, when the track dried I was overtaken, but the lap times are close and I am happy because I went one second a lap faster here today than I did last year. At the moment, I can get down to quite a good lap time without too much of a problem, but when I want to faster, it is hard to do so. Troy, I and the team are working our hardest and we just need to find that next step up to be more competitive. I am convinced that this bike has potential and it will be great once we can show it.
Troy – 20th, 1:32.476
You cannot just ride this bike, you have to think it and work at it. I can get to a point fairly easily, but then it is a struggle to go just that bit faster. It’s not a new problem, but it’s just something that we have to work on and improve if we want to be challenging more easily for the top ten. It’s kind of frustrating, because we are not that far off and if we can just make that small leap, we’ll be able to fight for the top ten again.
— Triumph Report
Team ParkinGO Triumph BE1 Racing is at Donington Park for the manufacturer’s home round, given the fact that the Triumph headquarters is only 30 miles from the circuit.
In the first practice session, the riders tried to find a good setup for the entire weekend. However, the session was interrupted by rain which had been forecast and both McCoy and Nannelli had to take the way of the pits prematurely.
GARRY McCOY | Triumph Daytona 675 | 8th in 1’34.986 : “We had only 30 minutes to practice but it was enough to make some changes setupwise, there’s more to do though. However, the weather is supposed to improve tomorrow and so we hope this will allow us to work with continuity”.
GIANLUCA NANNELLI | Triumph Daytona 675 | 16th in 1’35.405 : “We’re eager to do well at Triumph’s home track. We know what we have to do for the next days but we still have to improve. Today’s 30 minutes were very useful, we have gathered the data that will hopefully allow us to perform at our best in qualifying tomorrow”.