World SBK 2012 – Round Five – Donington
— Sykes goes on the rampage with new track best in Tissot-Superpole
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) went over 0.3 seconds faster than the existing track best in the third Superpole run, with a 1 minute 27.716 second lap that gave him his fourth Tissot-Superpole win of 2012. Close behind was his fellow Englishman Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), the only other rider inside the 1’27 bracket.
Haslam’s team-mate Marco Melandri was third and the front row for tomorrow’s races was completed by Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing), who came good after some challenging times in earlier practice sessions. Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing) earned a top five place on the grid, with Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) sixth.
Tom Sykes: “It’s always nice to tick these things like Superpole wins off my check list, but having said that I wasn’t expecting to be so fast. I was missing a bit of feeling with the ZX-10R but we kept working in Superpole 1 and 2, making some very small changes and finally in Superpole 3 those changes made all the difference. I’m confident with the race set-up, and hopefully we can have some good consistent weather and put on a good show for spectators. It was also nice to get the pole award from Roger Burnett, the first-ever WSB poleman; 25 years on it’s happened to me!”
Leon Haslam: “We had similar problems to Marco, the race tyres were working really good and the Qs were struggling with a bit of chatter but had a lot of grip. We decided to use a Q right at the end, but I made a big mistake and it was really close between me and Tom. He keeps getting these pole positions, but I’m very happy to be on the front row and I’m sure it’ll be a close race tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri: “I’m very happy because the team and the BMW factory have made a good job and to be on the front row in dry qualifying here after Monza is very important for us. I was happy about my race pace but wasn’t sure about my qualifying lap, but right from Superpole 1 I got a very good feeling. I was able to keep two qualifying tyres for the last Superpole but unfortunately had a bit of chattering with the first and the second didn’t work so well. Now I hope to be with Leon on the podium.”
Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) scored seventh place on the grid and will be joined on the second row by Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati). 2011 world champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) will start Sunday’s race from the third row, in ninth place.
Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia Gold Bet) fell earlier today but bounced back to finish tenth, alongside his team-mate Michel Fabrizio, who was 11th. A difficult weekend of qualifying for Eugene Laverty culminated in 12th place in Superpole. Another Aprilia rider, Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Aprilia), went 16th in qualifying, while new Kawasaki Racing Team rider Loris Baz was 18th.
Times: 1. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’27.716; 2. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000 RR 1’27.864; 3. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’28.177; 4. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’28.340; 5. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’28.420; 6. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’28.546; 7. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’28.551; 8. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’28.785; 9. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’28.497; 10. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’28.614; 11. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’28.683; 12. Laverty E. (IRL) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’29.032; 13. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’29.236; 14. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’29.319; 15. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’29.371; 16. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’29.493; etc.
Monza winner Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) posted the fastest time in the second qualifying session to head the combined time sheets and take his first ever WSS pole with a 1 minute 30.931 seconds lap. This is the new best lap time in this class. Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) fell early in the session and was unable to improve on his first day best and thus he finishes second in the overall rankings. Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) made it a 1-2-3 for Honda riders, with Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) going fourth. Wildcard Glen Richards (Smiths Gloucester Triumph) was a strong top five rider, while Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) posted a top six place. Fabien Foret (Intermoto Step Racing) suffered a bang on the head in a practice crash but still went out and improved his best lap to go tenth on the grid.
Times: 1. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1’30.931; 2. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1’31.155; 3. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’31.320; 4. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’31.338; 5. Richards G. (AUS) Triumph Daytona 675 1’31.496; 6. Morais S. (RSA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’31.615; 7. McConnell B. (AUS) Triumph Daytona 675 1’31.668; 8. Roccoli M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’32.005; etc.
— Althea Ducati
Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano faced a more difficult afternoon today at the Donington Park circuit. At the end of a hard-fought Superpole session, Checa qualified in ninth position for tomorrow’s Superbike races, Giugliano thirteenth.
The Althea riders faced sunny but still very cold conditions (10˚C air temperature, 18˚C track) for the second qualifying session this morning. Davide Giugliano continued to make good progress, consistently lowering his times and recording several laps in under 1m30. His best lap of this morning’s sessions was sixth tenths quicker than his fastest set yesterday and thanks to this time he closed in eleventh position, easily qualifying for this afternoon’s Superpole. Carlos Checa got on with the work started yesterday, concentrating together with his team on the setting of his Ducati 1198. In the final minutes of the session he recorded a very fast lap (1m28.9) which positioned him third. Only the top three riders – Checa, Sykes and Smrz – lapped in under 1m29.
Superpole 1 – the first phase of the Superpole went well for Carlos. He immediately made a fast lap and the time recorded – 1m28.6 – positioned him third. With this time there was no need to return to the track and he closed the session in fifth position. Davide had difficulty making a clean lap and as a result his fastest time positioned him thirteenth, just a tenth of a second from Badovini, in twelfth.
Superpole 2 – Checa went out first on a qualifier but, seeing that he needed to make a second exit, he went back on track but this time on race rubber. The times recorded was not as low as the Spaniard had hoped for and he closed in ninth place, a fraction of a second from Camier, eighth.
Carlos Checa: “We had tried the qualifying tyre at the start of the second Superpole phase but when I saw that I needed to go out again, I opted for the race tyre. I thought I’d be able to make a low 1m28. I gave it all I had but it seemed like I didn’t have the same level of grip that I had had in the morning, and I couldn’t do quite enough. Anyway, it went like that and tomorrow I’ll need to make a really strong start.”
Davide Giugliano: “In the morning things were going ok but then in Superpole, with the race tyre, I wasn’t able to put together a lap like I had been doing in the morning. Perhaps I was a little on edge, I don’t know, but it’s a shame because I missed out on phase two by just a tenth of a second. We need to make a strong start tomorrow, which won’t be easy from the fourth row but I’ll do my best.”
FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier will start both of tomorrow’s fifth-round World Superbike races at Donington from the second row of the grid after qualifying in seventh today.
Camier easily booked his place in this afternoon’s Superpole after a strong final qualifying this morning, which actually saw the Englishman lead the timesheets in the closing minutes of the session. Camier recorded the seventh and eighth quickest times respectively in Superpole 1 and 2, before finally setting a time of 1’28.551 in Superpole 3, narrowly missing out on a front-row grid position by just two-tenths-of-a-second, even though his time was over three-tenths-of-a-second faster than the current lap record.
Peter Hickman, standing in for the injured John Hopkins, was unable to get into Superpole, but gained more experience of his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R today and hopefully his hard work will yield some Championship points tomorrow, as he starts his World Superbike career from 19th on the grid. Hickman continued to improve throughout the day and is confident of putting on a good performance in tomorrow’s races.
The young Englishman is deputising for Hopkins this weekend following the latter being forced to miss this weekend’s event at Donington after crashing at Monza last Sunday. Hopkins has now returned to America for further tests on his injured hip after an examination in the UK failed to conclusively find the extent of the damage. It is hoped that Hopkins will make a quick recovery and will be able to take his place alongside Camier at Miller Park in America later this month.
Today’s Superpole was won by British rider Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki, giving the likeable Yorkshireman his fourth pole position from five events so far this season. Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri – both on BMWs – and Max Biaggi on an Aprilia make up the rest of the front row.
Leon Camier: “That was pretty close to getting our first front-row start of the year and I am a little disappointed that I didn’t quite manage it. It’s been good to put in a decent number of laps and because of that we’ve been able to improve the bike and the electronics. I did a long stint on a hard tyre and set some good and consistent lap times. Although the front row of the grid would’ve been great, as long as I make good starts, I expect to be mixing it with the leaders going into turn one.”
Peter Hickman: “Of course I am disappointed not to get into Superpole, but I always knew it would be a tough ask. I am still learning how the FIXI Crescent Suzuki behaves and each time I get on it my experience grows. I’m really happy with everything and I’m looking forward to racing against the top guys in the Championship. I generally make good starts, so I will do my best tomorrow to make up some places early on and see what happens as the race progresses.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “Today was another really satisfying day and just what the team needed. I’m very pleased with our performance over these two days and hopefully the improvement will continue tomorrow. Leon has done a great job and has been with the top guys in every practice and qualifying. If he could’ve found just a fraction of a second in one of the sectors he would’ve been on the front row for sure. Peter has worked hard and once again done everything we’ve asked of him. If he carries on this way, there’s a good chance he’ll score some championship points.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal: “With the run of bad luck we’ve had since the start of the season, it’s nice to have a solid couple of days and see the riders get into a rhythm. We’ve been able to improve both the setting and performance of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and have made positive steps forward. Leon has been running with the leaders all weekend and only just missed out on the front row of the grid. His race pace has been consistently fast and I’m sure he’ll be a contender tomorrow.
“Peter has impressed the whole team with his willingness to work hard learning the bike. He has done an extremely solid job and hopefully this will translate into his first WSBK points. I’d like to thank Nick Morgan and the MSS team for allowing him to ride for us this weekend.”
Second and third on the grid: Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport celebrates its most successful Superpole qualifying ever in the FIM Superbike World Championship. For the first time both factory BMW S 1000 RRs will start from the front row for the fifth round of the 2012 season at Donington (GBR). Local hero Leon Haslam (GBR) qualified second on his RR, immediately followed by team-mate Marco Melandri (ITA), who finished third.
In the first part of the Superpole qualifying, Marco only needed one quick lap on race tyres to set the best time and qualify easily for the second session. Leon meanwhile struggled with some issues but was then able to post the sixth fastest time on qualifying tyres. In Superpole 2, Leon was quickest with a new fastest lap on the “Donington Park Circuit” of 1:28.032 minutes, while Marco finished third. In the final and deciding Superpole 3, Leon did another new fastest lap in 1:28.012 minutes, but he was beaten by Tom Sykes (GBR) who was the first rider to get under 1:28 minutes. On his last attempt, Leon rode a 1:27.864 lap on qualifying tyres to secure his second position, while Marco finished third. Leon tackles his home round with a special helmet design: It is the one his father Ron Haslam used to race with and the design of the first helmet his supplier gave him 25 years ago when he was three years old. BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK Team’s rider Ayrton Badovini (ITA) qualified tenth fastest today, while his team-mate Michel Fabrizio (ITA) will start from 11th on the grid.
Leon Haslam: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:29.011 min (P4) / Fastest lap FP: 1:29.091 min (P3) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:27.864 min (P2)
“I am really happy to be on the front row at my home race! A big thank you to my team. In Superpole 1, we had a small issue with the bike. After fixing that, we put on a qualifying tyre. Then in Superpole 2, I clocked a new best lap on race tyres and was on P1. In Superpole 3, we decided to use the qualifying tyre right at the end, but Tom was quicker. He keeps going and getting his pole positions! In general, the race tyres were working really well, but we were struggling a bit with the qualifying tyres. The times are very close and I think it is going to be an exciting race. There are a lot of riders who can be fast and for sure racing is always close at Donington. We have been working quite hard on race set-up and are pretty consistent. Now we have to see what the weather does but at the moment I’m pretty happy. ”
Marco Melandri: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:29.028 min (P5) / Fastest lap FP: 1:29.148 min (P6) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:28.177 min (P3)
“I am very happy. The team and the people back at the BMW Motorrad factory did a great job. To be on the front row again in a dry Superpole here at Donington, a completely different track to Monza, is very important for us. It is great to be back after the issues we had yesterday. Today, I was happy with the race tyre and I felt good. I kept the qualifying tyres for the last Superpole but unfortunately they were not working perfectly; I had some chattering with them although the time was not too bad. Thank you to my team for the good work they did. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow. I will try to be on the podium.”
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
“So far it has been a really great weekend. Both crews were working hard and both of them were able to successfully react to issues, as was the case with Marco yesterday and with Leon in today’s Superpole 1. To have both RRs in the first row is the result. We are very close to Tom Sykes, and our race pace is good. Both riders have done very fast and consistent laps on race tyres so we are looking forward to exciting races tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) took his fourth Superpole win of the 2012 season today at Donington after setting a new track best lap of 1’27.716 in Superpole Three.
Four To The Floor As Sykes Gets Into Gear Again In Superpole
Sykes has only had to relinquish the Superpole prize once this season and put his latest success down to his team finding the right set-up on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R for Tom to make the best use of a qualifying tyre in the very last session of the day.
In terms of race pace Sykes is happy with his machine set-up and feels he can make two good races on Sunday, irrespective of which tyre he and his team opt to use.
Loris Baz, Tom’s new team-mate, had a good introduction to the highly competitive Superbike World Championship in practice and qualifying, and only missed out on qualifying for Superpole by two places and a coupe of tenths of a second. He was just less than 1.5 seconds from the very best combined qualifying time and now starts the races on Sunday from 18th grid spot, with five riders starting behind him.
Kawasaki Team Pedercini regular rider Leandro Mercado qualified 22nd after falling in the second qualifying session while his new team-mate for the weekend, Gary Mason, was 23rd. This is Mason’s first SBK race experience.
Tom Sykes: “I am looking forward to tomorrow and we can use any rear tyre. It is just a matter of how we feel, what the conditions are and we will take it from there. The track here feels bumpier this year, some of the white lines are greasy, and it feels like more of a challenge. At the start of the weekend we had quite a harsh feeling with the set-up on the bike but we have improved it. You have to get every last bit out of the motorcycle. I was missing a bit of feeling but we kept working in Superpole 1 and 2, making some very small changes and finally in Superpole 3 those changes made all the difference. Small things make a difference at this level. I’m confident with the race set-up and hopefully we can have some good consistent weather to put on a good show for spectators. It was also nice to get the pole award from Roger Burnett who scored the first ever SBK pole right here at Donington. Twenty-five years on it’s happened to me!”
Loris Baz: “I think things have gone quite well so far and step by step I have been learning the bike. It took some time to get a good feeling on the Superbike, especially from the front, but I found it today. Qualifying went well, I think. I was 18th and only 1.5 seconds from the fastest lap after combined qualifying, so I think that is really good for my first time at a race on the bike. In the final free session I matched my fastest time from the morning qualifying session and then we put on a harder rear tyre, but I crashed in the last corner. That is a shame as I feel I could have improved my best time again in that session. I have no objective for raceday, if I finish 20th I will be happy and if I finish 15th or better I will be really happy!”
Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two fifth round World Superbike championship races from the second row of the grid after setting the sixth fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole contest at Donington Park in the UK.
Rea spent much of today evaluating tyres for the two 23-lap races around the historic 4.023km Donington circuit and will start from row two, behind pole sitter Tom Sykes.
Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, narrowly missed out on Superpole after this morning’s second qualifying session and will start the two Donington races from 17th place on the grid.
Jonathan Rea – P6 1m28.546s
Firstly, we achieved our target which was to make Superpole 3, and the bike’s still working really well. I’m having some problems with the wheelie control on the straights and some aggressive power. We’ll try to smooth that off for tomorrow but, at the moment, the race looks a little strange because everyone’s found a little bit of pace with the softer tyre, which is quite fast. We’ve had one looking pretty good after some distance and one looking terrible so we need to evaluate the risk to go with that one, or run with the harder tyre, which is a lot slower, but we know it’ll complete the race in good shape. The bike’s working a lot better than last year so we’re definitely making progress with the CBR and the whole team is working well.
Hiroshi Aoyama – P17 1m30.008s
This morning we weren’t able to improve and the time between me and Berger was very close but, unfortunately, he made it to Superpole and I did not, so I am very disappointed. We have problems in quite a lot of areas, which I hope we can improve for tomorrow’s races. It’s a pity because we started with quite a good feeling on the first day, but today the others kept improving and we were not able to. I can’t push in the areas I want to and it’s quite difficult to pass other riders here, but I’ll do my best in the races and see what happens.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
We have been looking a lot better with Hiroshi than in previous races but unfortunately he just missed out on Superpole, which was a real shame. We had made some progress and he seemed happier with the bike. We expect him to gain a few places in the races and we’re quite optimistic. With Jonathan it was quite hard this morning and we went in slightly the wrong direction with the setting. We also had some electronics issues that needed solving. In the end, we are sixth on the grid, which is OK. The tyre choice depends a lot on the weather, but there is a big gap between the two options. We’ll hope for sun and higher temperatures because that will make the decision a lot easier!
– Liberty Racing
The Liberty Racing Team, after Kuba Smrž great qualifying, closed the today Superpole by filling in a massive way, the second row of the Grand Prix of Europe.
Sylvain Guintoli (5th) has strongly confirmed its role as the fastest Ducati on track, the French stopped the clock on the time of 1’28 “420 proving, once again, that he was, in this first part of 2012, the man that has in the wrist, the decisive lap on the Saturday afternoon.
Kuba Smrž, after all the sparks in timed laps, struggled to repeat himself in Q3. Tomorrow the Czech rider will start from eighth place on the grid with a time of 1’28 “785.
Maxime Berger, hit the target Superpole, scored the fifteenth time with 1’29 “371, he will start from third row.
On sunday all attention will point out to the second row, aided by the fascinating ups and downs of Donington Park circuit, the Liberty Racing Team’s riders promise two rounds of fire, ready to take back with interests, what the Superpole denied them.
And if Smrž, in 2011 edition has struggled for the win against Melandri, anyway tomorrow with Kuba also Guintoli will try to fight for the first place. Tinge of yellow the podium once more, is not just a dream but a real chance for the Czech team.
Jakub Smrž #96
“I’m a little bit sad for the final position in Superpole, because I wasn’t able to make good lap with race tyres so, in order to not risk to be out from Q3, I had to use the qualifying one. In second section I was able to do time with qualifying tyres, which will be good enough for first row, but unfortunately in Superpole 3 I had to run with race tyres again and my Superpole lap was not 100% perfect, however I’m happy about my weekend till now. I have a high performance bike and I have a good feeling with the racing tyres, I’m constantly fast, I have a good race pace and finally this is much more important than to start from the first row ”.