Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike rider Cal Crutchlow made an impressive start to the Monza motorcycle racing weekend, fastest in both the first free practice session and then the first qualifying session of the weekend that followed.
Jonathan Rea was second fastest in today’s opening qualifying session for round five, just two tenths of a second behind provisional current pole sitter, Crutchlow.
After his double win at Assen two weeks ago, Rea concentrated on further developing the revised chassis settings on his Honda CBR1000RR.
Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio put in a very strong performance and concluded first qualifying in third position, reserving a provisional spot on the front row of Sunday’s grid.
The afternoon’s World SBK qualifying was complicated by weather, rain before the session meant the Superbike riders had to contend with an initially wet but drying racetrack, gradually changing from intermediate to slick racing tires as the session went on.
Michel Fabrizio says: "At the start of the session I was not wanting to take too many risks as some of the corners were pretty slippery so I stayed calm and then began to push as the track dried out. It’s a shame the conditions were so mixed because there were a few things we wanted to work on today but this wet weather didn’t give us the chance. Anyway, it’s been a positive first day. I think the testing at Misano last week helped us to get back on the right track and I’m feeling confident."
Noriyuki Haga says: "Although the lap times were not so great, I’ve actually got quite a good feeling with my 1198. I’m losing time in the last part of the track, from the Ascari corners to the Parabolica, and I need to concentrate on that section tomorrow. We’ll be making a few changes before tomorrow’s sessions and we’ll see how we go, the weather will surely make the difference too."
Cal Crutchlow says: "It was nice to top the time sheets in both sessions today. We’re still looking for better grip a bit on the bike and also need to improve when pushing going into the corners, I think we can work on that. We tried a couple of things today, which is good, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s great that it’s the team’s home race and we’ll have lots of fans here and Yamaha guests so it’s nice to be on top today for them."
James Toseland says: "It was one of those sessions today where it starts wet then just dries up continually over the heat. We were trying a few different suspension settings over the session but obviously the track was never fully dry, a couple of corners were still quite damp at the end and really quite greasy. With the trees around here in the park it doesn’t dry out too well. All in all we’ve tried some interesting things, and were pretty quick in the free practice, coming in fifth in the dry. We’ve got some work to do tonight, some big things to improve on which is encouraging so I’m optimistic that the changes we’re going to make later which were too long to do today will bring the next step. Fingers crossed again for the weather tomorrow."
Jonathan Rea says: "I’m having a lot of fun here, actually! The bike is really good and that’s allowing me to enjoy the circuit. I’m especially pleased with t he long run I did in this morning’s free practice. This afternoon’s session had mixed conditions and we’ve still got some work to do to get the final sector nailed. But luckily the Assen set-up is working well, although there’s still some fine-tuning to be done to get it right for Monza. We’ll study the data later and see what we can do to improve it for tomorrow."
Max Neukirchner says: "Everything’s OK at the moment, but the first sector stayed quite wet during the qualifying session and I was stuck behind Xaus for a while. The other sectors seem to be not too bad and my riding style is still improving. It’s quite good through most of the corners, but in others I’m probably concentrating on the exit a bit too much. The team’s working really well, though, and the bike is pretty good too. I probably need to wake myself up a bit for tomorrow, so maybe I&rsq uo;ll take an extra coffee in the morning!"
Jakub Smrz says: "I’m happy I was able to continue on the same path. We’ve worked all day long searching the right set-up and in the end we made it, although we still have to make some adjustments to get full efficiency. I preferred not to ride on the wake of the others and this allowed me to focus more on the machine".
Lorenzo Baroni says: "After crashing this morning, I wasn’t willing to take much risks in the wet because the starting grid will be determined tomorrow and no rain has been forecast".
Leon Haslam says: "The morning was good and really all today was pretty good, though there were a few small problems in the afternoon session and some of it was a bit of a waste of time. We had some sort of strange clutch problem with both bikes for a while, so to get fifth was not so bad, especially considering the changing conditions.
"This afternoon’s qualifying started with a wet track and then it began to dry. By the end, there was almost a dry line round the whole track, but there were still some places where you had to keep a look out.
"The new chicane is a bit safer and it makes the track flow better, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens when the whole pack is charging into it in a race before we can say that it is a success. For me though, the track is now more enjoyable to ride, particularly when you are by yourself. Slipstreaming round here is crucial and will be a big factor in the races. So far, I’ve not had a tow from anybody so I’m looking forward to that tomorrow. Come Race day though, I’d prefer to be a long way out in front and not have to worry about anybody drafting me. That’s my plan anyway."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "I’ve not been here before, so the new chicane means nothing to me. Today, my first job was to learn the track and that’s what I tried to do. The track is quite technical and there are a lot of high speeds and fast corners and so it’s important to be very accurate if you want to go fast. Conditions were changing a lot in this afternoon’s qualifying session and I think I was a bit too cautious in the first chicane and that’s where I lost a lot of time. If I had been more aggressive there, I would’ve been quite a bit further up the leaderboard for sure.
"I know that slipstreaming is going to very important here – especially in the races – but there are a lot of opportunities to do that round here. However, it’ll also be very easy to get done, so I’ll have to watch out for that."
Troy Corser says: "I am quite happy. I am not over pushing the bike at all, and we are able set good lap times quite easily. With a little bit of luck, we can be quickest here tomorrow. The bike is really strong here. The bike’s settings feel not too bad for the first day of the weekend. The engine is definitely strong, and the bike is fast. We now have to work a little bit on the engine braking. There is still some room for improvement, not so much from top speed into the chicanes, but in the mid-speed corners."
Ruben Xaus says: "I really did a lot of laps during today’s Qualifying Practice – 23 laps are more than an entire race distance. Of course, on a high-speed circuit like Monza the impact on the brakes is massive. At the end of the session the brakes were not in the best condition any more, and I couldn’t really attack. Nevertheless, on my quick lap I followed Max Neukirchner, but missed the line in the first chicane. I was able to close the gap to Max again and finally pass him in the Ascari corner. When I braked into Parabolica I went wide, and Max was able to pass me. The traction control saved the situation and I was still in a position to do quite a good lap time. A big "Thank You" to all my crew. They have been helping me all season long. I want to keep going ahead like this."
Carlos Checa says: "We need to improve in two sections mainly, at the first chicane and through the long corner. Tomorrow we’re continue to work, concentrating on the gear box set-up, which is one of the tricky issues. Even though it won’t be easy, we know that we must, and can, improve. I’m ready and will do my best to close the gap that separates me from the leaders."
Shane Byrne says: "This morning we had a problem with bike one and so, this afternoon, on a dry track, I went out on the second bike that was set-up for the wet. I’m confident however and am sure that tomorrow, with both my Ducatis and both set-ups
Lap Record: 1’47.434 (Troy Bayliss, 01/01/2002)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’44.073 (Ben Spies, 10/05/2009)
Last Years Winner: Ben Spies
WSBK Qualifying #1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’44.577
2. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 1’44.789
3. Michel Fabrizio Ducati ITA 1’45.134
4. Troy Corser BMW AUS 1’45.234
5. Leon Haslam Suzuki GBR 1’45.303
6. Ruben Xaus BMW ESP 1’45.542
7. Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 1’45.592
8. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 1’45.603
9. James Toseland Yamaha GBR 1’46.019
10. Luca Scassa Ducati ITA 1’46.111
11. Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 1’46.170
12. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 1’46.216
13. Max Neukirchner Honda GER 1’46.402
14. Lorenzo Lanzi Ducati ITA 1’46.413
15. Noriyuki Haga Ducati JPN 1’46.451