News 16 May 2010

WSBK: Crutchlow scores third Superpole in South Africa

Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow leads a one-two World Superbike Superpole session for the boys in blue at Kyalami in South Africa.

Crutchlow scored his third Superpole of the season in South Africa.

Crutchlow scored his third Superpole of the season in South Africa.

In what was the closest ever period of Superpole qualifying in the Superbike World Championship, the top four riders headed by Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) all finished with 0.125 seconds of each other at Kyalami in South Africa on Saturday.

Crutchlow and second placed man James Toseland each beat Ben Spies’ previous record best lap, with Crutchlow taking his third pole of the year with a 1:37.243 lap.

Third fastest man when it mattered for grid positions was Carlos Checa from the Althea Ducati squad, and the front row was completed by Ducati Xerox rider, Michel Fabrizio.

Leon Haslam was fifth for Suzuki Alstare, while Ducati Pata B&G privateer Jakub Smrz (fastest in combined qualifying) was sixth in Superpole. The top eight was completed by Aprilia Alitalia duo, Max Biaggi and Leon Camier.

Superpole two was contested by the top 16 riders, but those to lose out on the chance to go for a front row start in Superpole 3 included privateer Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati), Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) plus other big names like Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Tom Sykes on his Kawasaki Racing Team machine, who was 12th.

Australian favourite Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) was 13th after a good period of early qualifying was not improved on today.

Local rider Sheridan Morais (EmTek Aprilia) was cheered all the way in Superpole and qualified 14th, taking a fourth row start. Noriyuki Haga, winner of each race here last year, was 16th in Superpole, having a tough time again.

In World Supersport, Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) did a 1:40.812 lap in final qualifying to take pole in South Africa, heading off perennial challenger Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda).

Third on the grid, despite pain from Friday’s crash, was Sofuoglu’s teammate, Michele Pirro. With championship leader Joan Lascorz only eight, the best Kawasaki machine belonged to Katsuaki Fujiwara, fourth and in a front row starting position.

Matthieu Lagrive (ParkinGO Triumph BE1) used his Friday time to claim fifth place, one position up on his teammate Chaz Davies.

Massimo Roccoli made good early ground for his Intermoto Czech Honda team, going seventh on the grid. Lance Isaacs (BikeFin Safe Sky Honda) was top local qualifier, 11th.

Click here for detailed results

Cal Crutchlow: “It didn’t look like we were going to be one and two on the grid this weekend. Coming to what was Yamaha’s worst track last year results-wise, as a team we have done a fantastic job to get first and second. It will be interesting tomorrow but today is today and we are first and second. If we get away and make a good start then it will make for entertaining racing.”

James Toseland: “I went wide twice in my fast lap, and felt there was a high 1’36 in there. But to go from high 1’39s at the start of the weekend to even thinking about a high 1’36, it just gives great credit to the team. I came out this afternoon thinking, ‘right this championship is still there and I am not prepared to just let it slip away.’ To be second on the grid after being 17th this morning means I have to give thanks to everybody from the team and Clinica Mobile.”

Carlos Checa: “Here again we are at track where the bike works quite well. We did the best qualifying job of the year because we did not know the track, but we knew that the Ducati was going to work. Finally it was very exciting in qualifying, one of the closest. I though these guys in front would maybe be in the 1:36s but we all did 1:37.2s. I think we will have exciting racing.”

Michel Fabrizio: “Today’s Superpole was not at all easy. I had to really push and at one point I risked finding myself on the ground. I thought I’d finished in second but in the end it was fourth. Anyway, I’m on the front row tomorrow and am confident that I can make two great races. We’ve been going strong both today and yesterday and I know I have good race pace. Of course the competition is always the same but, from fourth on the grid, I think I can push for the win.”

Noriyuki Haga: “Today I had problems due to a lack of rear grip. In the Superpole, even on the qualifier, I didn’t have enough grip to be able to turn the bike and really push. We still have tomorrow morning to work on the bike and we’ll do our best to improve.”

Tom Sykes: “We went fast in the first Superpole session because we used a new front and new rear tyre and when the bike has grip I can make it work. We have proved that time and time again. So now I am happy to be on the third row, and I know we can improve slightly. We found a lot of time, around 1.4 seconds, using the qualifying tyre. It is a fine balance but we are keeping our heads together working well. Our race pace is not too shabby and we can manage the tyres quite well. So tonight we will have a think about a final plan for race day and come back tomorrow with a few new ideas.”

Chris Vermeulen: “There was not so much time between Monza and this race and I spent three days in Belgium after doing physio on my injured knee. The plane flight over to South Africa caused my knee to swell but I am doing as much as I can. On the bike side, I lost quite a bit of track time today because of a couple of small problems but we have found out what the issues were and improved them. I just wanted more time on the bike to re-learn the circuit, but we improved our best time in Superpole anyway, which was good. Quite a step, in fact. We have to compromise the set-up because of my injury but we are now getting good information from the bike and it is starting to get better all the time. We are now a lot closer.”

Leon Haslam: “I’m pretty happy with fifth place today and I actually prefer it to fourth because it is a better place from which to attack the first turn. It’s an easier run and as long as I get a good start, I’m sure I’ll be there or thereabouts. I’m happy because my race pace is good and my lap times on race rubber are good. It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow and any one of about six or so riders could win a race. Kyalami is a difficult track to overtake on because there’s more or less only one racing line. When you get off that line, to pass somebody for example, it’s easy to get on a dirty and bumpy part of the track and make a mistake. The first corner is not very far away and after that there are a series of corners where it would be impossible to pass, so good starts are vital. Tomorrow morning we’ll make a few little tweaks to the bike and see if we can improve it further. But, if not, then it’s ready to race and so am I.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I am disappointed with my Superpole and but for a small mistake in a final split, I’m sure that I could have got into final Superpole. That would’ve given me at least a place on the second row, but now I will have to start tomorrow’s races from row three. The first corner is quite close and so it’s very important that I make two good starts. If I don’t, I’m going to be in trouble for sure and it’ll be difficult making up ground. The good news is that I’m happy with my race set-up and very happy with my race tyres. It’s a shame that I didn’t qualify better, because I’m sure that it would’ve made my two races easier. As I said before, this Championship is so competitive and the lap times are so close and if you make the smallest of errors you get punished a lot.”

Jonathan Rea: “The bike isn’t perfect, but we’re certainly not in the worst shape we’ve ever been the night before the race. Our race pace is pretty good, really, so it’s doubly frustrating to be on the third row, because we went well in the other sessions. The problem seems to be that we’re not finding the extra grip and speed from qualifiers that the other guys seem to. That’s going to make things difficult for tomorrow for sure, and I can’t afford a bad start. I’m not nervous or anything – in fact, I’m quite excited and looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow’s races. But there’s only one direction I can go in.”

Max Neukirchner: “I’ve been having quite bad chatter in the sessions so far and this is not helped by the bumps here at Kyalami. The problem begins when I let the brake off in the corner, and I am having to wait a long time to get on the throttle. We haven’t really been able to move forward since Friday morning, so I guess I cannot expect anything more than the starting position that I’ve got. We will have to try something new tomorrow morning and then do the best I can in the races and see what happens.”