Donington Park (UK), Friday 26th June: just as he did a week ago at Misano, Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio was once again the fastest rider in first qualifying, this time at Donington Park.
Very mixed conditions throughout the day meant that the Ducati Xerox squad, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, rode their Ducati 1198s both in the dry (in free practice) and in the wet.
In the early afternoon the Superbike riders took to the track for the first free practice session, in dry conditions. The British contingent immediately made its mark as was expected, with Camier, Haslam and Ellison all lapping very fast, but Italian Ducati Xerox man Michel Fabrizio held his own and gradually improved his times to close this initial session in fourth position. Team-mate Noriyuki was one of the fastest in the third sector of the track but was losing valuable tenths in the first and second splits, that meant he finished the hour-long session in eleventh place.
A rain shower arrived just a few minutes before the start of qualifying, forcing the teams to quickly change over to "wet" bikes. Having seen various riders, some of them unexpected, taking turns at the top of the timesheets in the wet, the track then quickly dried out mid-session. Both Ducati Xerox men were subsequently able to lower their lap times but, while Michel immediately found the way with his Ducati 1198 in the dry, his team-mate Noriyuki had more difficulty, again in the second split, lapping a second slower than the Italian. Fabrizio was the only rider to lap in under 1m31 today, taking provisional pole once again; Haga meanwhile closed today in tenth place.
1st – Michel Fabrizio Speaks… (1m30.7s)
"It hasn’t gone at all badly. In the practice I had a few problems with my right arm, maybe because it hadn’t had time to recover from Misano, but it felt a lot better in qualifying. A few minutes before that session the rain came and it’s clear that in the wet we’re not yet where we should be. Thankfully the track dried out very fast and so in the last part of the session I was really able to push and record some fast laps. We know where we need to work if it turns out wet again tomorrow but for now I can say I’m satisfied with what we’ve accomplished today."
10th – Noriyuki Haga Speaks… (1m31.7s)
"Today wasn’t so easy for us. It’s the first time I am riding the Ducati 1198 here and I feel I need more track time. We tried some different settings because I’m having trouble through the fast corners, especially in the second split, where it seems that I can’t open the gas because the bike’s not reacting as it should. We know where we need to improve and so I hope it’s dry tomorrow to allow us to make the necessary progress."
World Superbike Times
1. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1m30.7s; 2. Haslam (Honda) 1m31.1s; 3, Spies (Yamaha) 1m31.2s; 4. Lavilla (Ducati) 1m31.4s; 5. Byrne (Ducati) 1m31.4s; 6. Camier (Yamaha) 1m31.4s….. 10. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 1m31.7s