Max Biaggi tops Misano WorldSBK Day One
Eight-tenths cover the top 12 riders after second free practice session.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) will head into FP3 at Misano tomorrow as the fastest rider on combined times following today’s two 45-minute Free Practice sessions after responding to the improving Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) who took the challenge to his compatriot before being displaced, finishing second. The younger of the two Roman riders, who was limping following his spectacular highside in morning practice, had another crash in the second session as he lost the rear of his Panigale R machine at Turn 8.
Max Biaggi – Aprilia Racing Team – 1st – “I’m happy to be here and I want to sincerely thank Aprilia and the Piaggio Group for having given me this fantastic opportunity. I’m working with the guys from the Noale test team whom I tested with these past months for MotoGP and Superbike and it is both fun and strange to be here in what is no longer a testing atmosphere but a race situation. I am really pleased for them as well. Here I am back in my element of riders, friends, fantastic knights on steel steeds who ride fast, and seeing them from the inside of the competition is much different than commenting them on TV. Now we are thinking about Saturday. I think the farther forward we go the harder it will be. Times will start dropping in practice, tyre availability will go down and we’ll be tackling the electronics that I’ve never tested. We’ll see. It won’t be simple and we’ll also need a bit of luck.”
Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Manager): “An exciting day for us at Aprilia and I’d say a historic day for World SBK. Seeing Max back on the track, seeing him ride that way and achieve this performance, even though he decided a little while ago to really attempt this adventure, it’s a great gift for all the fans of our sport.”
Davide Giugliano – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team – 2nd – “I took quite a blow in this morning’s crash but was able to get back on the bike this afternoon, even though it was painful to ride. It’s very positive that we have finished in the top two, especially seeing as we missed this morning’s session entirely. We’re not yet there in terms of bike set-up, and there’s still work to do tomorrow but, despite the two crashes, results for now are looking positive.”
With the top-12 riders covered by less than a second, the battle to make it directly into Superpole 2 was intense as minute by minute the positions of the leading riders changed.
At the end of an enthralling, 45-minute second free practice session, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) completed a top-4 featuring only Italian bikes.
Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team – 3rd – “My Panigale is working reasonably well here and the track, which has been resurfaced, seems to be quite smooth though I think conditions will continue to improve over the course of the weekend. We are continuing to concentrate on working on the front of my bike, as we did a Portimao, and even though we haven’t found anything revolutionary I think we’ve seen some improvement today. We also have good pace which is important. All in all, a good start to the weekend.”
Leon Haslam – P4 – “I’m rather satisfied. We made good progress in the afternoon compared to the morning session. I made a mistake at the end of FP2 on the fast section – maybe one of the fastest crashes of my career! Fortunately there were no consequences, but unfortunately I gave the guys on the team a bit of extra work this evening. The feeling is good and step by step we’re finding a good pace, so I’m confident that tomorrow we’ll improve even more.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and team mate Tom Sykes were fifth and sixth respectively ahead of Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), who both looked very fast and confident in sector one of the newly resurfaced Misano World Circuit.
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team – 5th – “We’re quietly going about our business and trying to sharpen up our bike. They’ve done a great job with the asphalt here, all the old bumps are gone so it feels nice. Gearing is something we need to improve one as there are a lot of slow-speed corners here in Misano, so we’ll look to try and do something about it tomorrow.”
Jordi Torres – P7 – “Today was a good day. I had raced here with Moto2 and despite the fact that the references change quite a bit, it didn’t take me long to learn. This lets us start working straight away on tyre life. We weren’t able to do that at Portimão and we can’t afford not to. I need to improve, especially on the front, both in terms of the RSV4’s reactions and my confidence. There are two phases: the setup and my confidence, which must improve hand in hand.”
With improvements to his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 evident from the off, Lowes completed 39 laps of the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli across the day’s two 45-minute sessions – matching the total of returning Aprilia rider Max Biaggi. Less than half-a-second separated the top nine riders for the majority of the afternoon session, with Lowes initially running top-three after just five laps on track. A small crash in the closing minutes prevented the British racer from making any late advances. However, his 1’36.052 keeps him firmly in contention with the front-runners heading into Saturday’s final timed practice.
Alex Lowes – P9 – “It’s been a positive day. Everything we found at the Portimao test is working at Misano this weekend. Realistically at the moment, it’s looking like we have a motorcycle that is capable of challenging the top-six. We have some changes with the electronics and the chassis to make tomorrow to hopefully find two-or-three-tenths and be a bit more competitive. I had a small crash at the end of the last session but it was nothing; I knew I was on the limit with the front and it just tucked, so lesson-learnt and we’ll keep moving forward.”
Matteo Baiocco – P10 – “It’s been a very positive Friday because we’ve been able to close inside the top ten and with times very close to the leaders. I’m very pleased because as well as being very close, we still have work to do on the bike to try and reach the positions that count. So I’m feeling confident ahead of tomorrow.”
Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), wildcard Markus Reiterberger (Van Zon Rehema BMW), Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) were 11th to 15th respectively.
Sylvain Guintoli – P11, 1m36.116s – “Today was interesting! We’re very close to the top, so that’s encouraging – it’s just a shame that our position is down the order. The rhythm is quite good, and the ideal time, too, so we are quite close. We’ll have to pull something out of the bag to qualify well tomorrow but I think if we keep doing the good work that we’ve been doing we can make another couple of solid races. The new surface makes the track feel better; there’s a bit more grip and it’s a lot less bumpy so it feels nicer to ride. It’s a bit more aggressive on tyres but not as bad as we thought it might be. We’re happy with the tyres, but we need to improve a bit on acceleration. It’s not a good position on the time sheet but it’s not really been a bad day.”
Markus Reiterberger – Van Zon Remeha BMW – 12th – “We were really happy with Free Practice 1 in fourth place but we struggled in the second session with a bad feeling at the front of our BMW S 1000 RR machine. We will try and make some improvements for tomorrow. On the quick lap attempt before crashing this afternoon I was setting the fastest time through sector one but then made a mistake and had to abort the lap. I then went for another one and but Turn 2 I tucked the front.”
Niccolò Canepa was on board the Ducati Panigale R in its Superbike version for the very first time today. His work focused on gaining confidence with his bike, regulating the height of the bike and riding position.
Niccolò Canepa – P16 – “I’m pleased with my first day on board the Ducati Panigale R. Today’s work was useful in starting to find feeling with the bike, setting it up for me, and in the end the gap between me and those ahead is fairly contained. I like the bike and am feeling at ease, and tomorrow I will strive to further close the gap.”
Michael van der Mark had a dramatic crash in the first of today’s two 45-minute free practice sessions at the 4.226km Misano World Circuit. The 22-year-old Dutch rider parted company with his CBR at the fast turn 10 at a speed of 263kph but fortunately walked away unscathed.
Michael van der Mark – P17, 1m36.841s – “I think that was probably my fastest ever crash today. I tried to go faster through turn ten but it was not possible! The guys did an awesome job getting the bike back together because it was quite badly damaged. They finished rebuilding just before we went out in the second practice and the CBR was working again without any problems, so full credit to the guys for the job they did. My main issue overall is getting the bike stopped. In the fast-flowing parts of the track I’m quite fast but the problem is in the slower sections. I’m quite sure that tomorrow we’ll find a solution to this.”
A disappointing morning gave way to a promising afternoon for Randy de Puniet with significant developments made to his Suzuki GSX-R1000. Navigating the Rimini circuit for 29 laps – despite early technical issues grounding some of his first session – the Frenchman undertook extensive set-up changes to reduce his pace by two seconds. Concluding the day in 18th, but just 1.5 seconds from the top, de Puniet is confident of more to come from the weekend.
Randy de Puniet – P18 – “This morning we struggled again and unfortunately I had a problem with the engine, so it was not so good for us. This afternoon everything was much better and we really started to work. It was a very interesting session for me after so many frustrating weekends, being able to work on more than just the electronics. I really hope we can improve tomorrow as we improved between today’s two sessions and to continue to reduce the gap. We did quite a few laps today so I’m feeling confident for more tomorrow.”
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team will field Michele Pirro on the Italian team’s third Ducati Panigale R this weekend in place of injured rider Luca Scassa.
Scassa, who was participating in this eighth round of the Superbike World Championship as a wildcard entry, was unfortunately the victim of a serious crash in today’s second timed practice at the Misano World Circuit. Unfortunately the accident has left him with a fractured right collarbone which prevents him from continuing this weekend, and so the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team has asked Michele Pirro, Ducati MotoGP test rider and current leader of the Italian CIV Superbike championship, riding the Panigale R with Team Barni Racing, to ride Scassa’s bike for tomorrow’s sessions and Sunday’s races.
Luca Scassa – (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team #99) – 20th (1’37.342) – “It’s a real shame because things were going well. We made a modification at the start which didn’t work but then, having changed direction, it was all going a lot better and I was lapping faster. I was using Chaz and his times as a reference and I could see that we were gradually improving. But then unfortunately I had a highside and have fractured my right collarbone. The doctors say I need to rest for three weeks and, in addition, I found out yesterday that I have a problem with my meniscus too, so I guess I need to take a break and get myself fit.”
WorldSBK Misano – Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2
Jacobsen and Cluzel lap identically to top timesheets in Day 1
After two closely-contested Free Practice sessions at the Misano World Circuit ‘Marco Simoncelli’, PJ Jacobsen (CORE” Motorsport Thailand Honda) ended the World Supersport opening day as the joint fastest rider on track on combined times. The American, together with French rider Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) posted identical 1.38.569s laps, close to the outright circuit best set by Michele Pirro in 2010. Jacobsen was credited with the top spot, as his second fastest lap-time was quicker than the one set by Cluzel.
Behind the aforementioned duo, current points leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was only 0.081s behind to end the closest opening day of World Supersport action so far this season in third overall.
Kyle Smith crashed unhurt from his PATA Honda to end the day fourth ahead of Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) and Lorenzo Zanetti on the second factory MV Agusta in sixth. The Italian rider suffered a technical problem in the final minutes of the second session.
Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki), Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25 MV Agusta), Christian Gamarino (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) and Fabio Menghi (VFT Racing Yamaha) completed the top ten, in which five of the riders were Italian.