News 5 Sep 2009

WSBK: Rea impresses as top Honda at the Nurburgring on Friday


Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea set the fastest time in today’s wet opening qualifying session for Sunday’s 11th-round World Superbike championship races at Nurburgring in Germany.

The 22-year-old spent most of the hour-long session – some of which was held in torrential rain – at the top of the timing sheets with a comfortable 1.5-second margin. The gap was reduced to half a second by Britain’s Tom Sykes right at the end of the session, but Rea remained comfortably the fastest rider today.

His team mate, Carlos Checa looked to be heading for a provisional front row slot with his final lap. He was slowed by another rider at the final chicane but remains comfortable in the progress made in today’s sessions.

Jonathan Rea – P1, 2’11.278s

I thought the guys in the team would have rested during the summer break but it seems they’ve been working right through, developing new things to try. We’ve been working on how the rear behaves on corner entry and the work they’ve done has helped a lot, especially in the wet today. We did a lot of laps to confirm things but I really think we’re just scratching the surface of the potential we have – it really is working. I’m feeling really at ease on the bike and with the whole way the team is working together. If I have a problem, I come in, we fix it, and I go faster again. It’s feeling really good.

Carlos Checa – P1, 2’13.550s

We worked on wet settings throughout today and the important thing is that the balance of the bike, the overall feeling on the brakes was all good. I didn’t want to risk too much in the conditions today but the last lap was OK until I got to the final chicane where another rider almost high-sided and crashed in front of me. I though I might get another lap in but the flag was down. I hope we can get some dry track time tomorrow because the forecast for Sunday is for dry conditions.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

It was good to see both riders up to speed today. Jonathan was clearly on it from the very first moment with his bike and some new settings and he fully attacked Friday! Tomorrow may be a different ball game with some dry track time and Sunday is showing a fully dry forecast. It’s good to see that the progress we were making before the summer break is being maintained here and we look forward to some more tomorrow.

Ten Kate Honda Racing’s Ryuichi Kiyonari earned himself a provisional top ten grid position for Sunday’s two 11th-round World Superbike championship races at Nurburgring by setting the ninth fastest time in today’s opening qualifying session.

Provisional pole position was taken by Kiyonari’s Ten Kate Honda team-mate Jonathan Rea but the Japanese ace worked steadily with his crew today to make improvements to his Honda Genuine Accessories backed CBR1000RR Fireblade.

The 5.13km Nurburgring circuit in Germany is the second circuit at which Kiyonari has used the team’s new Ohlins suspension and he and his crew declared themselves satisfied with the progress made today.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P9, 2’13.215s

My lap timer stopped working towards the end of the qualifying session but I think my last lap was looking OK until I nearly highsided at the final chicane and I was lucky not to crash. We made some progress today and the feeling is definitely continuing to improve, step by step. The new suspension is still a challenge, especially in the conditions we had today, but we are making forward steps – maybe two steps forward and then one back. But it is in the right direction!

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

Kiyonari-san is definitely showing that he is getting to grips with the new components a lot better now. During the summer break we spent a lot of time analysing data and creating new suspension settings. The work definitely paid off for Kiyo today and we’re looking for further improvements tomorrow.

Stiggy Racing Honda’s Leon Haslam had never been to Nurburgring before, but found enough similarities with his favourite English track Cadwell Park, to place himself in seventh position in the first day of qualifying for the eleventh round of the championship at the German track.

In cold and wet weather conditions the Superbike riders made their first appearance on track after their six-week summer break.

Englishman Leon Haslam parked himself firmly at the top of the sheets in the opening minutes of the afternoon’s qualifying session and showed that he has mastered the track in just a short time.

Heavy rain halted the session midway just after Jonathan Rea snatched the pole-position. Leon Haslam went out again in the last minutes of the session on a drying track in attempt to further sharpen his fastest time of 2’12.979s.

John Hopkins is another newcomer to the Nurburgring and was pushing hard to adapt to the German track in the two 60-mintes sessions. Technical issues and heavy rainfall limited his track time in the first day of qualifying, and the american closed his first sessions in a best time of 2’15.249s.

Leon Haslam – 2’12.979s:
1C;I am pretty happy with today’s sessions. I went straight out of the box with some ideas to improve the set-up we used in the first session this morning and managed to set the fastest time. Johnny managed to improve my time before the rain came in and put me to second place. We tried a few things right at the end that might work. I am not sure where we ended up, but we are not that far off and I am pretty confident of further improvement tomorrow.”

John Hopkins – 2’15.249s:
1C;It was just freezing conditions here today. We made a lot of changes from this morning when we encountered a few technical problems that kept us of the track for the first half hour of the session. It started to pour down halfway the second session and sat out the downpour. In the final minutes I went back out again after we made some changes to the suspension, but it was too late to push for a better lap time. I am positive we can improve tomorrow.”

Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager:
“We have had a good first day if qualifying. Leon has been doing very well in the wet in his first outing on the track and is getting better and better every lap. His crew made some changes towards the end of the qualifying session that didn’t work out as they had planned. But he had a good start here and I am confident he will improve more. John is taking it step for step and is not rushing into things at the moment. He also makes his first appearance at this track. I expect him to be up to speed as well tomorrow.”