News 11 Apr 2010

WSBK: Crutchlow secures surprise Superpole at Valencia

Crutchlow went from 15th to Superpole at Valencia - his second pole in a row.

Crutchlow went from 15th to Superpole at Valencia - his second pole in a row.

Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) took his second Superbike World Championship Superpole of the year for Yamaha with a 1:33.615 at Valencia in Spain overnight, leading a front row that will comprise of Crutchlow, Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati), Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) and Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare).

Checa had been even faster around the 4.005km circuit today than Crutchlow was in Superpole 2, but not in the final Superpole session when the final grid places were determined, leaving the hometown favourite second overall.

Crutchlow had set pole at the previous round in Portugal but this one was maybe even more of a surprise, as he had only been 15th in regular qualifying before Superpole started.

The second row will be headed by Troy Corser on his BMW Motorrad Motorsport S1000RR, the best Superpole qualifying result for the German manufacturer in WSBK. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare), Jonathan Rea (HANNspree ten Kate Honda) and Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Ducati) were ranged out behind Corser, with Lanzi crashing in the final section of Superpole, and sticking in eighth place.

The top seven places featured machines from six of the championship’s seven manufacturers, after a day of incredibly close competition for grid spots.

An intense Superpole 2 session saw some big names out of the final session, notably both factory Ducati riders, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, who went 10th and 11th respectively.

James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) missed Superpole three by one thousandth of a second, and starts ninth.

Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) had a major issue in Superpole 2 and had to pull off the track in a plume of smoke.

Michel Fabrizio set the fastest time in Superpole 1, the Suzukis of Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli close behind him.

The first four riders to miss the Superpole cut proved to Sheridan Morais, Andrew Pitt, Tom Sykes and Ruben Xaus, with Xaus 17th and only missing out on a higher starting place by one thousandth of a second.

Max Biaggi (Alitalia Aprilia) was the fastest man in the final regulation qualifying session, beating Carlos Checa (Ducati Althea) to second place by only 0.002 seconds.

The provisional front row was the same as the first day, with Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Ducati) and Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati) third and fourth.

Fifth place went to Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki), with the top five separated by only 0.068 seconds. A remarkable 11 riders in total went within 0.258 seconds of each other in combined qualifying, and 18 riders were covered by a single second.

Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) set the pole time with the final throw of the dice in the second qualifying session, posting a 1:35.658, a new track best that took him by surprise.

Just behind was long-time qualifying leader Joan Lascorz ( Kawasaki), with Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Katsuaki Fujiwara ( Kawasaki) filling the front row places. The best Triumph machine belonged to local rider David Salom (ParkinGOBE-1 Triumph)

Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) took pole with his Friday best time of 1:36.952, making this his second pole success in two attempts. Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) was second quickest, and Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Race Junior Honda) third. Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki) improved his time today but starts fourth in tomorrow’s race.

Florian Marino (Ten Kate Race Junior), Fred Karlsen (MTM Yamaha) and Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) battled it out in the 11-lap Superstock 600 race in Spain, but there was to be a late change of the final result.

Marino finally took the win, by 0.413 seconds from Karlsen, although Karlsen was later disqualified for non-conformity to technical regulations. Guarnoni is now classified second, and Bernardino Lombardi (Martini Corse Yamaha) third.

In the championship Guarnoni now leads on 45 points, while Marino and Lombardi are tied on 25.

Click here for detailed results

Cal Crutchlow: “I hope when we get to Silverstone I will have a reception like Carlos had here! We had a lot of pole positions in Supersport and had one here last year, so to come again and do it on the Superbike is really good. I feel we could have been quicker, but that is just me. If someone gets away at the front we could be in trouble so if we keep it a close race it should be good.”

Carlos Checa: “It is fantastic to be here in front of a home race crowd especially with the performance of this year, because I am feeling very strong with this bike. I really like this track and I hope to make a good race weekend. We worked quite well in practice and the bike works here. We are on the pace with the other people and it will be a very close race, I believe.”

Max Biaggi: “I feel good on the bike and Portimao was a good race for us last time out. I was happier for the team than myself. Back in Valencia we have not such good memories of last year but in the winter test we were pretty good, and now we are quite consistent with out lap times. Front row was the real goal because at this track it is very difficult to overtake. I think we have not such a bad pace and we will try our best. Our target is to put many heavy points on the table.”

Leon Haslam: “Our main objective was to get on the front row, and at Valencia there are such tight times, from front four to tenth place. We messed up a little bit in Superpole two, I used my qualifying tyre but got balked on my lap and had to use a second qualifier, which meant In the last part I was using a two or three lap old qualifier. I am feeling pretty good for tomorrow.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I think I’ve got back into my rhythm this weekend, perhaps even better than Australia, and I’m feeling good. I am a little disappointed with my last qualifying tyre, but that’s because I made some small mistakes and even the tiniest of errors can cost you dearly because the lap times are so close together. This track is not an easy one for overtaking, so it’s important to get good starts and be with the leaders, if you want good results. If the weather stays like today, it’s going to be two long, hard races tomorrow for all of us.”

Troy Corser: “Finally, I feel really comfortable with bike and I can do a whole lap without having to think about every corner. This is the biggest thing for me. We made a good step at the recent Portimao tests and made further progress yesterday and today here and now I feel much more confident about my prospects. Most of the work has been on the electronics – traction control, clutch and engine-braking, but now I’ve got the bike the way I want and I can just go out and ride. I have had to change my riding style for this bike and that’s not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary in order to get it round the track quickly. Changing your riding style is a big thing and when you are in the middle of doing it, your confidence can drop, so now that I am comfortable on the bike, I already am feeling more confident. Many times recently, I have been riding within myself, but now I feel much more in control. The telemetry is working better and we can understand more about what’s going on and then decide what to do. Working with it is also helping us get a better level of grip and the electronics now help maintain the grip so, with all this working well, I feel I will be able to push harder in the second part of the race. I’m looking forward to the two races tomorrow and hope that all these recent improvements and hard work will bear fruit and we can finish with two very good results.”

Michel Fabrizio: “It feels like we’re on the limit and today I found it very hard to make fast lap times. The important thing I guess is that we have a good race pace, this morning I was able to make quite a few laps with consistently fast times. Of course this is not the result I hoped for from Superpole, also because starting from the third row at this particular track will be far from easy. We’re all so close this weekend, separated by just a couple of tenths of a second, so tomorrow I know it’ll be hard but I’ll try my best.”

Noriyuki Haga: “In today’s Superpole the first qualifier didn’t help me too much. The second was much better but while making a fast lap with that tyre, I had a problem with my seat which was moving around so it was hard to concentrate and I finished the second Superpole session one tenth of a second too slow. Anyway, we have a good race pace so tomorrow we just have to see how the races go. I’m fairly confident as we have a good race package, having also made a nice long run yesterday. Of course I need to make a strong start but I’m fairly sure I can do that.”

Jonathan Rea: “A bit of bad Superpole timing again as I think my Superpole 2 time would’ve put me on the front row. I was trying really hard in Superpole 3 and got really good drive out of the final corner, but I braked in the usual place and it was a bit late so I had to abort the lap. I’m actually a lot happier now because we were miles away yesterday and now we’re near the front and pretty quick on the race tyre. I’m happier with the circuit, too, where I’ve never had good results. It was a confidence thing and I’ve attacked it in methodical steps this weekend so I’m really looking forward to racing tomorrow. I’d like to thank Ronald and the team for helping me as much off the bike as on it, and I’d like to reward them with a couple of really good results tomorrow.”

Max Neukirchner: “This morning was not so bad and we were able to make some good progress forward. This afternoon, even though the grip levels were down in free practice because of the higher track temperature, we were still finding a way forward and I am feeling a lot more comfortable pushing harder on the bike. The first Superpole went OK but then I had a mechanical problem and had to go out on my spare bike. The settings were a little bit different and I couldn’t go any faster. The weekend has been positive so far and we’ll try to make more progress in warm-up and in the races tomorrow.”

James Toseland: “Lady luck doesn’t seem to be shining on me at the start of this season! To lose out by one thousandth is a frustrating blow, especially as I knew the time was there. I wanted to save my second qualifier for the last Superpole session, for sure we could have done a similar time to Cal. It was definitely possible. Congratulations to Cal for another pole position, putting the bike where it should be. I’m disappointed for the team because we’ve worked really well this weekend and improved the bike again. To lose out on the top eight by such a small time and then the confusion when the screens went down is very frustrating. We’ve come a long way with the package so we just need to get a good start tomorrow because we know we have the race pace.”

Tom Sykes: “We have kept improving the bike so it is frustrating to set a 1’34.8 second lap and get knocked out of the top 16 places in Superpole. We had extra grip from the qualifying tyres in Superpole and what a difference that makes to the bike. It is so much easier and more consistent to ride fast. We have improved in lots of areas all weekend, so we will use the good information we gained here to get more out of the package over full race distance. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Simon Andrews: “We have used a different set-up since the test we did here and it is also a case of me adjusting back from the BSB bike to this one. There are just some small variables that are holding us back at the moment. With these bikes you have to make sure you stay in a straight line and that you can use the power, but I am still getting more comfortable on it. I think we have found the direction we want to go in.”

Andrew Pitt: “Just before the first Superpole, there was a problem with my number one bike and I had to use the other bike instead. It had a different set-up and so I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to and I knew it was going to be a pretty hard task getting into Superpole 2. It would’ve been good to get into Superpole 2 but, considering what happened, I’m not too disappointed and I guess we ended up probably where we deserved. The balance of my bike is good, but we did have a bit of a problem at the rear today. One direction we took was too hard and another was too soft, so we are now working on a compromise and will see how it goes in tomorrow’s warm-up.”

Roland Resch: “My body feels good and I had no pain today, so that’s good news. We began the day using a Phillip Island type of set-up and then made some changes to try and improve it in the afternoon free practice, but it didn’t work out so good. It’s so hard qualifying well when so many riders are very close in lap times and one small slip or mistake is enough to put you way down the grid. But really this weekend is all about me being back on the bike and putting in the laps. This time I will be taking part in my first race for the team and although the two races are going to be tough, I aim to try and get into the points in both 23-lappers.”