On the opening day at Silverstone, Round 10 of the World Superbike Championship, Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow set the fastest time in Qualifying 1.
After the track cooled on Friday, five different manufacturers took the top five times in the qualifying practice session. Quickest behind Crutchlow were Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea, BMW Motorrad rider Troy Corser, Arpilia Alitalia rider Leon Camier and Ducati Xerox rider Michele Fabrizio.
Here’s what the WSBK riders were saying after Friday’s sessions on the revamped 3.666-mile circuit in the UK that hasn’t been used in World SBK competition since 2007.
Cal Crutchlow says: “It’s nice to come back to Silverstone. The new circuit’s really good, really enjoyable. It’s fast and flowing, but then there’s some tight stuff so it all equals out. Our bike is better on the faster corners, but you have other bikes, like the Ducatis, that are better in the chicanes, so it equals out quite nicely.”
“There are a few more opportunities to overtake on the new circuit – around the tighter chicanes really, and you’ll see some good passes at the end of the Hangar Straight.”
Carlos Checa says: “We’ve got a good idea of the track now but I’m still having trouble in T1. I’m going wrong in the first section and am not able to ride smoothly. We need to be faster through that section too. Having said that, I think we can fight for the positions that count. The track is great and I’m enjoying it; it’s very technical and safe, they’ve done a good job. With the sun it would be fantastic.”
Shane Byrne says: “I like the track. There are however two points that I’m finding difficult and I hope the changes I’ve made with my technicians can help us there. I’ve tried the tyres and have identified my preferred front tyre. Tomorrow we’ll continue to work on the set-up.”
Jonathan Rea says: “I really enjoyed riding the circuit today – it’s like it fills me full of happy pills because it’s all new and fresh! The bike is working OK straight away and I got up to a good rhythm pretty much from the off and qualifying was good. We’ve still got some more work to do tomorrow but I’m looking forward to making improvements.”
“The bumps are bumps and they’re same for everybody and we spent this afternoon working more on the gearing and trying to get the right compromise for that. But it’s always fun when you come to a new circuit – the layout’s really nice, but it’s just that the bumps and the surface isn’t great.”
Troy Corser says: “Silverstone is a completely new circuit for our team. The track is very bumpy, and you feel them a lot because it is quite a high speed track. There are a couple of corners that are bumpy at the entry. We still haven’t got the bike set-up right, as it is not really absorbing the bumps very well.”
“Therefore I have to take a lot more risks than I like to set a good time. As usual, on a completely new track, we have to find the right braking points and the right lines. This can create some confusion for the engineers. But I am not too worried. The guys now have a lot of data to look at, and I know we can set good lap times. I am a 100 per cent fit and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Leon Camier says: “We started off as we had hoped without making drastic changes to the base setup of my RSV4, just some small tweaks to adapt it to the conditions. I’d say that with the setting we’re on target, now I just need to improve my trajectories especially on some sections. The final tenths which need to be shaved off are there, in my knowledge of the track and the lines. Here, at home, I really want to do well for my supporters and my Team.”
“I think the new circuit looks really good. It’s got good character – a few fast bits, a few slow bits and a few undulations. There’s a bit of everything. There are a few good places for overtaking. You can line people up on a lot of the corners and there’ll be opportunities to overtake if someone makes a little mistake, or gets it slightly wrong on the entry. I’d say it’s a lot better for overtaking than it was. It’s a good fun track and I really like it.”
Michel Fabrizio says: “I really like the new configuration of the track. I liked the previous long version that we raced on years back, in 2003 I think, but once they shortened it I could never get the results. Now it’s been lengthened once more I’m enjoying it, it’s only a pity that they removed the little bridge that was the best point as far as I’m concerned. We’ve made a good start today but we’re all very close, second to fifth position all with the same lap time! I think we can improve further tomorrow, if the weather permits that is.”
James Toseland says: “The new circuit is really impressive – they’ve done a great job. I think the MotoGP riders and F1 drivers had positive things to say, and I’ve enjoyed going around today. It’s a great track layout and there are plenty of places to overtake. Down Hangar Straight and into Stowe is the ideal place, but there are plenty of other good places as well.”
Leon Haslam says: “It’s the first time I’ve ridden the new circuit and it’s really good – quite fast and flowing, and should provide some good opportunities for passing. We’re just trying to find a set-up ready for race tyres and we’ll go from there.”
Max Biaggi says: “We still need to fix a few things, especially in the turns on the rougher asphalt, but it’s not bad at all. Without looking too much at the clock we punched out a good time, quite close to those ahead of us. The English riders are giving 110 percent, they are breathing in their home air, but I’ll try to… bring honor to the Italian flag even here!”
“All joking aside, we have some ideas on the setup which need to be perfected hand in hand with the experience we gain on this new track. Concentration and determination will do the rest.”
Max Neukirchner says: “I think I like the circuit but there are a lot of bumps so it’s not easy to get the right chassis set-up so I think you must live with a not perfect setting. Of course the crash was bad for me – I put in a new rear but the front was already 17 laps old. The bike carried on for maybe 200 meters more and hit the wall, so the front end looks not so good. I’m sorry for my guys who have a lot more work to do now.”
Jakub Smryz says: “I still have to improve in many sections of the track, but I need to get a better feeling with the front end, which should allow me to be more incisive and ride more safely. I will pick up tomorrow where I left off, even if the weather might have an impact on the race. It’s important for us to be at our best for Superpole, in order for me to exploit the bike’s full potential. We are very close to achieving that goal, hopefully it will happen tomorrow/”
Ruben Xaus says: “Overall, the bike feels good, and I am confident for tomorrow. We just need to find a little more tire grip. I haven’t been riding the bike for three weeks, and I have to get used to some changes that have been made. Unfortunately I had traffic on my quick lap. I expected the slower guys to get off the racing line, but I was blocked by them. I could have done a lot better lap time. We have another qualifying session tomorrow, and I expect to finish better than today.”
Noriyuki Haga says: ”To tell the truth I preferred the old layout; particularly the final section. What surprised me is that some of the new sections are more or less blind corners which made today a little difficult. It was also hard to time exactly when to open the throttle through the corners but I hope that, with the time available tomorrow, we’ll be able to resolve a few things and improve. The bike doesn’t seem bad and the tyres have given me pretty good feeling.”
Roger Lee Hayden says: “I’m pretty satisfied because this afternoon we started to work in the right direction and I was able to record some fast laps. In the qualifying session we made a lot of improvements and I have a good feeling with my bike on this circuit that’s new for me but also for all the other riders. My race weekend in Laguna Seca was really a good practice for me and tomorrow I want to continue to work with my team and I hope to enter the Superpole”.
Matteo Baiocco says: “I spent my first day of action working through various machine settings but we still have to find a better one. Mainly we have to sort out a good set-up because we have some problems to solve. We will try some more settings tomorrow in order to solve today’s rear traction problems. The circuit is quite nice and I like it even if I’m still learning it. Tomorrow I must improve a lot my lap time if I want to enter the Superpole that’s my target”.
Friday WSB Qualifying: 1 Cal Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha) 2:05.664, 2 Jonathan Rea (GBR-Honda) 2:06.006, 3 Troy Corser (AUS-BMW) 2:06.052, 4 Leon Camier (GBR-Aprilia) 2:06.064, 5 Fabrizio (ITA-Ducati) 2:06.088, 6 Toseland (GBR-Yamaha) 2:06.238. 8 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) 2:06.464. 17 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 2:07.107.
Silverstone Superbike Friday Stats:
Weather conditions: Overcast, some light showers.
Temperature: Air: 23 – 24 °C, Track: 29 – 31 °C
Number of riders participating: 25 from 15 teams
Fastest lap Free Practice: Jonathan Rea (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda) 2:06.927
Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda Team) 2:05.664