Valencia Rider Quotes
Leon Haslam stormed his way to victory in the first World Superbike Championship race at Valencia and then followed it up with a hard-fought-for fourth in the second which increased his series lead to 18 points after three rounds.
Having scored a solid fifth place finish in Race 1, Noriyuki Haga triumphed in Race 2 (which ran in two parts), finishing 25 thousandths of a second ahead of Carlos Checa.
The win, on board his Ducati 1198, was far from easy as a red flag during the third lap led to a second heat, 20 laps in length.
Noriyuki Haga says: “The track was a lot warmer in Race 1 than in the morning’s warm-up and I was lacking rear grip. The more I pushed, the more my 1198 slid around and this needed to be fixed before Race 2. Before that race we made a change, reverting to the setting we’d used in the warm-up and it worked well. I was able to push hard, stick with Biaggi and Checa and eventually pass them. I’m very happy to have been able to win today. I thank my team, Ducati of course, and all the sponsors who helped contribute to this great result.”
Michel Fabrizio says: “It was a weekend to forget, we’ll turn the page and concentrate on the next race. Today in Race 1 I had good pace and was able to make up a couple of positions very quickly, but then I unexpectedly lost the front and found myself on the ground. We made some changes for the second race but the front brake was not consistent and I came back to the garage.”
Leon Haslam says: “I made a reasonable start and was fourth at the end of the lap one and then just worked my way up to first by lap five. Once I was in the lead, I realised that the pace was not great and it all felt pretty easy for me. I expected that I would come under attack, but my Pit board signals showed that my lead was increasing! I kept a good pace and felt comfortable enough to ease the pace at the end.”
Haslam continued: “We made some small changes to the bike for race two – because of the hotter conditions – and managed to pass about five riders quite quickly despite not making a very good start. Then the race was stopped and we had to start again. We put a bit more preload on the front, but I began having brake problems before too long. The lever kept coming all the way back to the bar and that meant I couldn’t be close to other riders and then pull out and pass them. I didn’t feel confident braking and after three or four laps I was praying that the race would come to an end or that somebody in front would stop and I would get another podium. I am happy to be leading the series; delighted that I have increased the lead; and really looking forward to Assen – a circuit where I think our bike will go really well.”
Sylvain Guintoli says: “I made a good start in race one and everything was going according to plan until Camier crashed right in front of me! I had to take to the run-off area to avoid hitting him or the bike and then had to do a bit of a three-point turn to get back on the track and that cost me time and places. I had fallen to 14th – from sixth – but had some good battles before finally finishing ninth.
James Toseland says: “Race one was great, it’s always nice when the team work so hard to be able to repay them with a result. I was probably the widest man out there because I certainly wasn’t the quickest after half race distance, I was finding a few things a bit difficult with the bike. It was great though to dig deep and get a podium, my first podium this year and my first since Brands 2007 I think. It’s been a while since I took a trophy home so I was very happy. The team is working unbelievably hard, we’ve got some issues but we’re making up a lot of ground in a short space of time. In the second race I got an average start when the clutch grabbed early on the line. I don’t know where the front guys got their pace from on the re-start, mid 34’s was a second faster than it was in the first race. Assen is next which is fast and flowing, which will suit the bike better. We need to keep improving until we’re strong at every track.”
Cal Crutchlow says: “Race one was ok, I was just disappointed I lost the tow to the leaders at the start. We’ve got bad rear tyre problems again, seem to be spinning a lot more than the other competitors from the go. The higher grip levels in Portugal suited us better. We’re looking forward to hopefully improving it at the next race in Assen. A difficult weekend, the second race was much the same, no grip from the start.”
Jonathan Rea says: “We’ve had a few gremlins this weekend, which ended up costing us time but I feel I’ve got a lot out of both races today. It’s been a difficult weekend and it’s been clear we didn’t have the pace of the front-runners, but we’ve found out how to make the bike better. The new electronics have definitely made the bike easier to ride but we’ve had problems getting acceleration and grip on corner exits. It’s still early days with the electronics, though, and we know what to work on when we test at Assen this week. I’m really looking forward to that and the next race there, and I’d really like to thank my team for all their efforts this weekend. When morale’s been low, there’s always been a smile on their faces and I’m very grateful for that.”
Max Neukirchner says: “You can probably imagine the words that I’d really like to use after today. It’s frustrating because I felt quite positive after qualifying and we didn’t make any changes to the bike for warm-up this morning. We used exactly the same settings for the first race but for some reason we suddenly got rear chatter problems on corner entry. We made a small change for race two and then another during the red flag delay but it just made everything worse! What’s really frustrating is that we don’t understand the problem, so we need to look at everything and work very hard at the test this week.”
Carlos Checa says: A bittersweet weekend in the end”, said Carlos. “Bitter for the crash and sweet for the second place finish but also bitter for those 25 thousandths and sweet for the position overall. Racing is like that and we need to look ahead. We are at a good level that means we can fight for the podium, thinking about the championship. I think that the people that came to Valencia today definitely enjoyed themselves.”
Shane Byrne says: “In race 1 I was lucky that I didn’t hurt myself when I fell trying to avoid Lanzi”, said Shane. “In race 2 I was going well but I was confused by the information my team were giving me on the pit board, sometimes showing my position in the heat and other laps showing me the aggregate position. When I finished and saw who I had beaten in the second heat I was pretty satisfied!”
Troy Corser says: “Race 1 was great. That’s where I expect us to be right now. The bike just felt good. We were able to compete with the top guys, to manage the tyres and to go at race pace until the chequered flag. We did not change a lot for the second race. Unfortunately I lacked grip over the entire race distance. We now have to analyse the data and see what we can learn.”
Ruben Xaus says: “Overall I am not too unhappy. We knew that Valencia would be tough for us. The weekend was more or less over after missing the second session of Superpole. When you start from 17th, racing is really tough. You lose contact with the front riders very quickly and then you have to fight over the entire race distance. It is hard to find your rhythm. Anyway, finishing in 12th and 11th is not too bad. Congratulations to Troy and the entire team for the great performance. I am confident of scoring better results soon.”
Fianl Podium Interviews
Leon Haslam says: “To make the break was a bit of a surprise, because I felt we could race the other guys, but for sure it would be a big battle to the end. But when I got to the lead I saw the lap times I was doing were not so great and I knew that Max and the others guys could go quicker, it had been proven. But I kept my rhythm and when I saw a small gap behind I pushed again and the gap became bigger and bigger. It’s great to win another race and leave with the championship lead.”
Noriyuki Haga says: “I like Valencia a lot. I am Mr Valencia! Before the red flag in race two I made a good start and was in fifth position. In the restart I started from fifth and I kept a good pace. It was not easy to catch and pass the top two riders but in the last few laps I pushed hard and took the win. I was not thinking about the time difference I just knew I had to go at the front.”
Max Biaggi says: “We had a very nice race in race two, just like the first one. The temperature went up a lot in the second race, which meant that the grip went down. Nori and Carlos were in front of me in race two and they deserved their places. I could not follow Haga in the last two laps because he was very fast but second and third at Valencia are two good results.”
Carlos Checa says: “It was a good weekend; if not the first race then the second one, when I was battling right to the end. I thought I could control the second part of race two by sitting behind Max but then Nori arrived and broke up the group. I tried to catch him at the end but I could not make up the difference. Anyway I think it was a good result.”
James Toseland says: “I think Max was slightly faster than me after half race distance in race one, but I was stronger where you can pass another rider, and that made it difficult for him to overtake. Once he did get past, he helped me take a couple of tenths of a second from my lap times and I kept ahead of Corser and Haga. I couldn’t do any more but we are getting better all the time.”
Valencia WSBK Results
Race 1: 1 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 2 Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 3 Toseland (GBR-Yamaha), 4 Corser (AUS-BMW), 5 Haga (JPN-Ducati), 6 Rea (GBR-Honda). 9 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
Race 2: 1 Haga, 2 Checa (ESP-Ducati), 3 Biaggi, 4 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 5 Rea, 6 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
SBK Championship Points Standing (after 3 Rounds of 13)
1. Haslam 123; 2. Biaggi 105; 3. Checa 80; 4. Haga 79; 5. Rea 60; 6. Toseland 50; 7. Guintoli 50; 8. Fabrizio 46; 9. Corser 46; 10. Crutchlow 41
Wolrd Superbike Manufacturers Standing: 1. Suzuki 123; 2. Ducati 107; 3. Aprilia 105; 4. Honda 61; 5. Yamaha 57; 6. BMW 47; 7. Kawasaki 13