News 31 May 2010

WSBK: Checa scorches to Miller Superpole with new record

Althea Ducati's Checa claimed Superpole on Sunday at Miller.

Althea Ducati's Checa claimed Superpole on Sunday at Miller.

Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa dominated the final Superpole session with a new circuit record of 1:47.081 at Miller Motorsports Park round of the Superbike World Championship in the United States on Sunday, beating Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) and Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) in a session that was red-flagged for a time and then re-started.

Friday’s pace-setter Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Ducati) was fourth, one place ahead of championship leader Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki). Smrz was one of a few top riders to crash today, as track temperatures and the levels of competition heated up.

Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) was happy in sixth place after one of his strongest qualifications of the season, with Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) overcoming the effects of a huge crash that brought out the red flags to go seventh, one place up on Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia).

Spaniard Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) was just out of the final Superpole qualifying session, ninth fastest and top BMW rider after Australia’s dual world champion Troy Corser fell in Superpole two and qualified 15th and top Aussie.

The second factory Ducati of Michel Fabrizio was 10th fastest ahead of Checa’s teammate Shane Byrne. Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) went 12th in his first qualifying experience at Miller.

Impressive Ducati privateer Luca Scassa was 13th on his Supersonic Racing team 1098, ahead of a struggling James Toseland, the Yamaha Sterilgarda WSBK returnee having a tough time in his first visit to Miller.

The official Kawasaki Racing Team duo of Queenslander Chris Vermeulen and Tom Sykes missed out on Superpole 2, with Sykes having a crunching high-side crash in Superpole 1.

Final Aussie was Broc Parkes on his ECHO CRS Honda, qualifying 19th for Monday’s Memorial Day races.

Local rider Roger Lee Hayden (Pedercini Kawasaki) went 20th.

In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) took his 10th career pole position today to gain the psychological advantage over Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) before raceday tomorrow. The Turkish rider’s pole time was a remarkable 1:51.281, another new track record.

Third in the ranking is the third place rider in the championship, Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki who has his teammate Katsuaki Fujiwara for company on the front row.

A late fast lap from David Salom (ParkinGo BE-1 Triumph) put him one place above his fellow Triumph rider Chaz Davies, with Michele Pirro (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) seventh. Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) rounded out the top eight places and the second row of the grid.

Click here for detailed results

Carlos Checa: “I know this track and I really like this track. And we made a good job. I always have some success here; always feel well. Even now with the Ducati we have had fantastic performance. I didn’t expect to get this lap time and to get the Superpole win. We know the Aprilia has a lot of speed. With a lot of grip even this makes it more difficult. But finally, this lap time was fantastic.”

Max Biaggi: “I think we have been in a good pace since yesterday and we have found a way to work better with one bike than the other, in chassis and set-up of the suspension. Today we have found a good way in Superpole and we will start from the front row, which is important.”

Cal Crutchlow: “It has not been too bad but the pace was so fast. Carlos and Max have been fast all weekend. All credit to Carlos, what a fantastic lap. I could not get anywhere near that and yet I have been going well in Superpole lately. We should have two close races tomorrow and we have a good chance of being in the top five, because we have good race pace.”

Leon Haslam: “In final Superpole, I was on a flyer and, according to my first two splits, on course for the second or third quickest time. Then the red flag came out and that was the end of that. Although the session started again, I did not have any qualifiers to use and there really wasn’t enough time to make an improvement, so row two it is for me. It’s not so bad, because turn one is a long way off, but it could be bad if Max (Biaggi) makes a good start because the Aprilia is so fast and he could easily exit the first corner with a good advantage. I’m pretty happy with my bike set-up, though of course I always think that we can improve it further. We will all sit down and look at the telemetry this evening and decide if we want to make some small changes in tomorrow morning’s warm-up. One thing is sure – tomorrow’s races are going to be long and hard and there are going to be some really good battles. The nature of this track suits the Ducatis and Aprilias and I think all of us four cylinder boys are going to have work our socks off to stay with them, but we will see what happens as the races play out. I am leading the championship now and I want to be still leading it when we leave tomorrow evening.”

Noriyuki Haga: “I am of course very happy to have qualified on the second row for tomorrow’s races. It seems we have found a solution to one of the problems I was having, I have a better level of feeling and I have been able to turn the bike as I want to. Tomorrow morning we’ll make a few more small changes to see if we can further improve there but I’m feeling quite confident, let’s cross our fingers that tomorrow conditions allow us to make two great races.”

Michel Fabrizio: “I’m disappointed as I hoped to qualify on the front rows and it won’t be at all easy to start from the third. I was losing valuable time in the final split and didn’t manage to put together that extra fast lap that was needed. However we’ve found good race pace over these two days and, if I can make a good start, I’m confident I can make two good races; I really like this track and would like to do well here.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “Before Superpole I was pretty happy because I felt that we had made a big step forward today. I missed out on getting into Superpole 3 by a whisker, probably because of a very small mistake on my fast lap. As I said before, the very smallest of mistakes can be fatal at this level and that’s how it was today. However, I am happy with the set-up of my bike and happy with my rhythm on the track today – especially as this is my first time here. The first turn is quite wide and I hope to make good starts and be in a good position as I head into it. If I can do that, I think I can fight with the front guys for sure. Tomorrow morning we’ll make some small adjustments and see if we can improve the bike further, but really it’s more or less ready to race now. I am looking forward to the races, having some good battles and getting some good results.”

Jonathan Rea: “I was getting massive chatter from the rear when we put the qualifier in, so we changed the bike a little bit for Superpole 3. I went out on a slightly used qualifier but the rear just chattered its way round to a highside and I went over the bars. The tyre had the last word on my neck and chest, too, which is a little sore but I’ll be OK for tomorrow. I guess the second row is not too bad and we’re fairly confident that the race set up will be good right the way through the 21 laps. As long as I can get away well at the start, I’ll be hoping to have something to say about the finish.”

Max Neukirchner: “The team has been working very well today but we can’t seem to lose the chatter at the rear and the qualifying tyre seemed to just make it worse. We have improved the braking and corner entry but it’s still not enough, so we will try to follow the same path as today in tomorrow’s warm-up to find a little bit extra for the race. We still have a lot of work to do to get up to a good race pace, but I will try my best tomorrow.”

James Toseland: “We went out on the standard bike set up at the beginning of the weekend at a slower pace learning the track, going from 1’51 second laps then down into the 1’50’s. We then switched to a new set up which seemed to work at those speeds, but as we got down into the 1:48’s it made it a lot harsher over the bumps on the track, unfortunately it was too late to change this before Superpole. So tomorrow morning we’ll go back to a set up we know works well, it’s just a shame as it’s cost us a good grid position. Hopefully tomorrow morning we’ll be able to get back down to some good lap times and get more comfortable again. In the race I’m going to need a good start and then I’m just going to get stuck in.”

Chris Vermeulen: “We got the bike working on a qualifying tyre and my Superpole time was half a second faster than I had been until then. We have been struggling a bit here and the pace is really, really fast. This is a track that Kawasaki went well at last year and we are going quicker than the guys did last year, but everyone else is going faster as well. We have a lot of work to do. I did not take any painkillers yesterday but it was too painful so I am back on them again. My knee is still not good enough yet.”

Tom Sykes: “Last year the team qualified pretty well here but even though we are lapping faster, it is still not quite there. I got caught out in Superpole One with a big high-side crash, which puts me in an unfortunate position on the grid for tomorrow’s races. The high track temperature this afternoon affected us quite a lot and even though we’ve been in the 1:49s, the pace is so fast that it’s not quite good enough to be in a decent qualifying spot. Despite our misfortune this afternoon the team is working hard on improving the set-up issues and we’ve tried a lot of different things to try and quicken the lap times. I haven’t had a big crash for quite a while so I’m hoping that after a good night’s sleep I won’t be too sore. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow and some ground to be made up but we’ll keep trying and hope for the best.”

Roger Lee Hayden :”I’m pretty satisfied about my today qualifying and Superpole. We didn’t improve as much as we wanted probably because we focused a lot on a race tyre and still the decision is up in the air. Anyway I entered my first Superpole and it was really fun. I didn’t use the soft tyre as well as I should, but it was a learning experience. I’m really excited to race tomorrow in front of my home country fans and I’ll try my best to reach a good result for them and for all my team”.

Matteo Baiocco : “Today we have not got the results we were hoping for. This morning during the qualifying session I found for the first time a very good feeling with my Kawasaki ZX10R and I improved my best lap time. Unfortunately during afternoon free practice I suffered for some electronic problems on my bike and I was not able to continue to improve and to better understand this difficult track. I hope we can find a better set up for the race tomorrow during warm up. It’s not ideal to start from the sixth row but nothing we can do now except make up places as quick as I can tomorrow”.