Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) continued his status as top Honda rider in the 2009 World Superbike Championship after two intense races at Brno, after qualifying on the front row in Superpole. In race one a double podium finish for team-mates Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) and Rea put them second and third respectively, in a race that was filled with drama for many other riders.
In the second race Rea and Checa finished fourth and fifth respectively, scoring more valuable points. In the championship itself, Rea is fourth with 206 points; Checa is eighth on 145.
Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) was seventh in race one, despite qualifying 17th, but chatter in race two held him back to 12th place. He is sixth in the series, on 180 points.
For Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) a pair of 13th places were an improvement on his qualifying pace of 18th, but it was a luckless day for John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR), who started 20th on the grid and crashed out of race one and retired in race two.
Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) was an impressive ninth in race one, and 14th in the second as he attacked the field from his 16th place grid position, made worse by two bad starts. He was 19th after one lap in race one, making his recovery through a quality field particularly impressive.
Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Honda CBR1000RR) scored his first 2009 championship point, in race one, for 15th place.
West Only 0.148 Seconds From Brno WSS Race Win
Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) went from a third row start, after posting the tenth best time in World Supersport qualifying, to second in the 18-lap Brno Supersport race, only missing the win by a fraction of a second.
In a race that had looked almost processional at some stages, West started moving forward at the midpoint, but when long time leader Cal Crutchlow slowed and then retired the battle for the final podium place quickly became a four-way fight for the win, right until the final corner.
Fabien Foret won the race, from West, Joan Lascorz and Katsuaki Fujiwara, with the front four covered by only 0.400 seconds across the line.
The next best Honda finisher was second fastest qualifier Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) who was fifth in the race. Laverty found set-up issues in race conditions after crashing in practice and losing track time, but he still made ground to Crutchlow in the championship fight, cutting his lead to 17 points. Four rounds remain, after the long summer break.
Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) improved on their respective 14th and 24th place qualifying positions to go ninth and tenth in the race today, but each was unable to find a race-long set-up that worked well.
In the championship standings, Crutchlow has an unchanged 185, Laverty 168, and Sofuoglu is third, with 128. West is now on 95 points, fifth. Pitt is seventh, on 85.
Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) qualified 12th but retired from the race, while Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) recovered from 21st on the grid to 14th, and scored two points as a reward.
Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) and his team-mate Jason O’Halloran (Althea Honda CBR600RR) each crashed out of the race in separate incidents.
A long summer holiday of five weekends awaits both Superbike and Supersport riders now, with the Nürburgring in Germany the next round. Raceday is Sunday, 6 September.
HONDA RIDER QUOTES:
Jonathan Rea: “We managed to grind out a good result in Superpole yesterday and we did the same in race one today. The team dug really deep to put us back on the podium after a really slow start to the weekend. Of course, two riders crashing in front helped us get some good points but we were with the leading guys when it happened. All in all, it’s been a good couple of races for us so we head into the summer break going in the right direction and I’m looking forward to recharging the batteries before we come back fighting again at Nürburgring in September.”
Carlos Checa: “Race one was a good result from a job well done. I got a good start and had a good pace. I felt very comfortable throughout the race and knew from my boards that I had a gap back to Jonathan. We have more understanding of the bike now and we were able to improve it from yesterday. Unfortunately, I had some chatter return during race two, especially when releasing the brake, which was strange. But it was a positive weekend and we were able to run with the leading riders from the opening practice session on Friday.”
Leon Haslam: “I had a lot more chatter from lap one in the second race. I was doing lap times half a second off what I did in warm-up. The group in front was not that far away but I couldn’t go any faster than I did.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “What is really disappointing is that I am about one second per lap slower this year than I was on the same bike last year. It’s very frustrating and the biggest problem is that we don’t seem to know what the problem is. It’s like looking into a black hole and not being able to see anything. The feeling was a little better in race two but we achieved the same result – even if the lap times showed a small improvement. I will find it difficult to enjoy the holiday because all I want to do is get back on the bike and ride every day until we find a solution.”
Matthieu Lagrive: “I’m very happy for today’s races results but I’m just a little disappointed only because of my two bad starts. I’m sure with a better starts I would be able to reach the front group of riders because my bike was very good today and I could have run fast times all the way through. In the second race my start was so bad that I had to overtake seven or eight riders in the first lap. My bike set up has significantly improved due to the good solution we found during Imola testing.”
John Hopkins: “It has been a bad day at the office. This morning in the warm up we used a soft front tyre, and it was my decision to use the tyre in the race. I was trying to catch up with the group in front of me, but lost the front of the bike and crashed out of the race. I started the second race with a harder front tyre, but it took me a while to get the confidence back. I made a mistake at the start and lost some ground before my bike broke down. It was definitely not the weekend we had been hoping for.”
WSS Rider Comments
Anthony West: “Halfway through the race I felt really good and it was a strong race for our team, especially to take a podium result into the summer break. We did some good work this weekend. After I got past Laverty I just felt stronger and it’s been great to get this result back again and improve my confidence.”
Eugene Laverty: “It’s not the result I had hoped for but at least I’ve pulled some points back on Cal. My crash this morning left us with a lot of work to do and although my Parkalgar Honda was ready for the race it didn’t feel quite the same.
We have a bit of a break now so we can put this behind us and get ready for Germany.”
Kenan Sofuoglu: “After the Imola test it looked like we had a good pace and a good set-up but we found problems here. In qualifying we made a mistake with the big gearing change we tried. In warm-up it looked OK but in the race I had no front grip after four laps, which is not normal. I chose the hardest front tyre so we would not have this problem, so I am very disappointed.”
Andrew Pitt: “We still don’t have the confidence to really grab the front end and push it in hard, and I don’t know why but the bike was not revving right out so we had issues passing on the straights. We struggled for power and ended up in a bit of a battle with Barry Veneman who is riding my bike from last year. It’s just not happening right now.”
Mark Aitchison: “I had a really good start off the line, but going on the straight Sofuoglu bumped into my bike, bending my right handlebar. It was really very difficult ride in that condition and I tried to adjust the handle bar with my hand while I was riding the bike. It took two laps to made this adjustment and after I tried to find my rhythm with the bike. I was pushing very hard to recover as many positions as possible. During the sixth lap I was trying to pass Pitt but I lost the front and I crashed.”
Miguel Praia: “It is a shame I had a technical problem as I felt really good all weekend and I was definitely on for a personal best finish. I feel we achieved a lot and can build on it for the next race. I’m a little disappointed not to finish the race but I know there is a lot more to come.”
Gianluca Vizziello: “The qualifying was not so good and it made things difficult for me. Not a good start and not a good race. But I got a couple of points so we take something away.”
Jason O’Halloran: “After a very good start I got away with the group and I pushed very hard starting from the beginning. Near to the end of the first lap I was kicked from the saddle. I ran the risk of a crash and I lost quite a few places. At the end of the first lap I was only in twenty-eighth position. Unfortunately near to the end of the race I made a mistake and I crashed.”