News 26 Sep 2009

WSBK: Top four start for Checa and Rea in Imola weekend


Hannspree Ten Kate Honda riders Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea both finished inside the top four in today’s solitary free practice session at Imola in Italy in preparation for Sunday’s two 12th round World Superbike championship races.

A curtailed schedule meant that today’s provisional qualifying session was lost after track surface problems resulted in the 4.93km circuit having to be cleaned. The World Superbike riders went out for the first practice session at 12.45 as planned, but extremely low levels of grip meant coming straight back into the pit boxes to sit out the rest of the session.

With the hour’s free practice session finally getting underway at 17.45, Checa set the second fastest time, with his team-mate Rea fourth fastest behind today’s pace setter, Michel Fabrizio.

Carlos Checa – 2nd fastest, 1’50.125s

The track is OK now, although still a little bit slippery at turn two. I think there was probably a little bit of panic this morning with the low levels of grip, but all it needed was a few bikes to go round for a few laps and things would have improved quite quickly. Still the delayed schedule means a late dinner, which is how we like things in Spain! The feeling with the bike is quite similar to the test but managing the power here is never easy, with the front wanting to come up all the time. We have some new engine maps to try tomorrow, but we’re on the pace with some consistent 1’50s laps, so everything is quite positive. If we had to race tomorrow, we’d be OK.

Jonathan Rea – 4th fastest, 1’50.308s

It’s all under control! It’s been a difficult day with the earlier condition of the track but at least we confirmed the base setting that we found during the test here in July. We also worked on a base tyre this afternoon because there’s not really going to be much of a choice for the races, I think. Today really felt like a shakedown test to blow out some cobwebs. The first and last corners are still quite slippery but we’re right in the ball park already. There are still some issues to sort but the bike’s good and the cobwebs are blown away. I’m now in full Imola mode, ready to attack tomorrow.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

To call this a strange kind of day would be a bit of an understatement, but at least it ended quite well for us. Carlos and Jonathan were in the top four throughout most of the single session we had today. There are still some small issues to resolve, but no huge complications, so it’s looking OK to make further progress tomorrow.

Ryuichi Kiyonari finished in 21st place in today’s only track session at Imola in Italy in preparation for Sunday’s two 12th round World Superbike championship races.

Today’s provisional qualifying session was lost after track surface problems resulted in the 4.93km circuit having to be cleaned. Kiyonari and his fellow World Superbike riders began the first practice session at 12.45 on schedule, but an extremely slippery track surface meant returning directly to the garage to sit out the rest of the session.

The Japanese rider, whilst feeling positive after the second race at Nurburgring in Germany three weeks ago, was unable to find enough confidence in the track surface to set a faster time.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – 21st, 1’52.183s

It was still a little bit slippery in the first part of the track and I had a different feeling with the bike from when we tested here in July. Also, the light seemed very strange because the session was delayed to such a late part of the day. We tried some different settings – some worked and others did not – but I am still feeling confident after we made some progress at Nurburgring so I believe things will improve tomorrow.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

It’s been a strange day, to say the least, and I think the disruption to the schedule has not helped Kiyonari-san get into a good early rhythm. However, he reported a positive feeling from the bike after Nurburgring and we will try to find that feeling for him again tomorrow.

The opening day at Imola today didn´t exactly start as expected. As the Superbike riders were heading out for their first free practice session this morning riders were only able to complete a lap or two before returning to the pits due to the extremely poor track conditions.
After the track had been cleaned up, to improve it´s grip level, riders were able to go out on it again. Although It was not the Superbike riders but the Supersport riders who were the first to start their practice session. In a 60 minute free-practice session riders were able to complete laps but lap times where far from good. The sole Stiggy Racing Honda Supersport rider Anthony West managed to squeeze in a ninth best time of 1’56.443 as his best lap for the day.

The Superbike riders also had an hour long free practice session today, but the earlier track issues and long delays has forced organizers to cut one practice out meaning that the Superbike will only get one try out reaching Superpole tomorrow.

In the very late afternoon session Leon Haslam took advantage of the improved track conditions and mastered his Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR by taking 7th place in the time sheets on the opening day at the Italian track.

Leon Haslam 13; Superbikes – 1’50.716s:
1C;It went pretty good in the end. Turn two was still a bit slippery, same as this morning. I was up there in seventh and then went back to our standard settings today, which allowed us to be quick straight off the mark. We need a few minor tweaks but the boys will work hard to improve the set-up. The track was basically unrideable this morning, and even in the session we got in the afternoon turn two and three were still unrideable. I just got though that part and concentrated on the rest of the track. 1D;

Anthony West 13; Supersport – 1’56.443s:
1C;In the beginning we had been prevented from riding so long I expected it to be super-slippery, so I went out too cautiously just trying to feel the way around. In the end only turn two stayed slippery. Our rear set-up is really good, but we need to improve the turning on the front. We tried two different set-ups on the front with the same result but at least the rear grip feels good. 1D;

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“It has been a pretty strange day today and to start the weekend like this is never good. It was pretty surprising to see all the SBK riders coming back in just after a lap or two saying that there was absolutely no grip out there. After a long wait and a cleaned track riders could finally go out there again and conditions seemed to have improved some. Both Anthony and Leon did well today considering the tricky conditions. We hope for more improvements tomorrow.”