Kyalami (South Africa), Friday Practice #1: Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio immediately demonstrated his pace when he closed first qualifying in pole position, thanks to a fastest lap time of 1m38.4.
The Superbike riders enjoyed great weather (air temperature 25°C, track 36°C) on this first day of the South African World Superbike race weekend, at the Kyalami circuit.
In the first practice session that took place in the early afternoon factory riders Noriyuki and Michel were both immediately fast.
Towards the end of the 60-minute session Michel ducked under 1m40 for the first time and then, in a final exit in the last minutes, he made his fastest lap of 1m39.081, three tenths faster than Jakub Smrz who, on his privateer Ducati, finished the session in second.
Just over an hour later in the first qualifying session, Michel recorded a first lap of 1m38.7, a very fast time that remained the time to beat for the first half of the session until, on new tyres, he improved further, registering a 1m38.4.
In the final stages Cal Crutchlow and Jonathan Rea came close to Michel’s best time but no one was able to better it and the Italian rider closed in first place.
Michel Fabrizio says: "We made a good start today. We started from last year’s set-up but then made a variety of changes to both the front and rear of my bike. I have a good feeling and didn’t have any particular problems today. The only thing we need to work on is tyre wear as I did a mini long-run today with the new tyre that’s available to us but after nine laps the grip was already dropping off."
Noriyuki Haga says: "Today was difficult as I didn’t have enough absorption over this bumpy track surface. I tried the different tyres available and they are not bad but without better absorption it’s hard to push. We need to work to resolve this issue tomorrow. I hope to improve tomorrow but Sunday will be difficult; there are a lot of us on a track that is not so fast."
Leon Haslam says: "I’m pretty happy with what we did today and satisfied with the number of laps I put in. The tyres felt pretty consistent and I was able to go quite quickly on a tyre that was old, so that bodes well for the races. The track is very bumpy and it’s important to get a good bike set-up and one that works with the bumps. We’ve been working on getting a good bike balance and once you have that, it is easier to push hard.
"After the end of a session my left wrist aches a bit, but there is no problem with it when I am on the bike. Because this circuit is so physical, if I get a slide, I certainly know about it in my wrist, but I don’t see it been a problem in Sunday’s races.
"I am sure that Superpole is going to be frantic tomorrow. In the past, I haven’t made big improvements on qualifying tyres, but I have always managed good grid positions and last week was the first time this season I have been off the front row. I am more concerned with the balance of the bike and the set-up than grid positions and as long as I am on the first two rows I will be happy."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "It’s my first time here and I spent most of the day learning the track and trying to work out where all the bumps are – and there a lot of them! I like this track; it’s very technical and very demanding and you don’t really get a chance to have a rest anywhere. It’s a shame that there are so many bumps and changes of tarmac because it is such a good track to ride.
"We started today with the Monza bike set-up and then made changes. But most of the changes made the bike worse and I went slower, so we will have to go back to the Monza set-up and then work from there. My position in the ranking today was rubbish, but I’m actually quite pleased with my lap times and we are not so far away. I just need to put it all together and do well in Superpole."
Troy Corser says: "After having missed last year’s race, I had to get used to the track this morning as it is crucial here to know where the bumps are. We then started working on the bike’s settings. Overall, I am quite happy. There are still some small areas where I struggle a bit: I still miss some push at the hairpin at the top of the track, and I am not 100 per cent confident opening the throttle there. There are some places we have to adjust the engine braking a little, and I just can’t get one right hander in the last sector right. Overall, I am confident for tomorrow, as the bike feels very comfortable."
Ruben Xaus says: "We tried a lot of things today. We worked on the set-up specific to this track. The tracks we have been to previously allow for more time between direction changes. Here the lap is like a roller coaster and riding here is really physically demanding. This layout demands a different set-up. The BMW S 1000 RR is very sensitive to set-up changes. However, I am confident for tomorrow as I have full trust in my crew, and I am sure they will give me an incredible bike."
Davide Tardozzi (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team Manager) says: "Today we were not too bad. After last year, I expected us to struggle a lot more. This bumpy racetrack does not suit our bike perfectly. I am totally happy with Troy’s performance, although we are still losing three tenths of a second in the last sector. Ruben tested a lot of different things today, and I am sure he will finish a lot higher tomorrow."
Jonathan Rea says: "We did a lot of wo rk on old tyres today to set the bike up for the bumps and its demands for grip. We definitely found a good base to start with tomorrow morning and when we put new tyres in at the end all that hard work made sense. So, it’s been a good and satisfying first day here without any major drama. We’ll look a little more at the front of the bike tomorrow and try to get it to deal with the bumps even better, but everything feels pretty good so far."
Max Neukirchner says: "I did a long run this afternoon when the lap times were not so bad. When we put in new tyres to improve the time, the front tyre was too soft and I was not able to push hard enough. We’ll put in a harder one tomorrow morning and hope that improves things. I also need to work on my lines through one or two corners where I am spending too long with the bike leant over and not opening the throttle soon enough. I am still adapting my style and haven& rsquo;t ridden here since the test 18 months ago. So, although 18th looks quite bad, I am positive about improving the position tomorrow."
Ronald ten Kate (Ten Kate Hone Team Manager) says: "We’ve had to work quite a bit today since Kyalami is really a very challenging circuit, where the bumps complicate the task even more. We’re not far off on Jonathan’s side of the garage and he’s spent a long time on used tyres today. He achieved a good level of consistency, which will be a key factor on Sunday. After a good session with Max this morning, we kind of lost ourselves a little this afternoon, but we’ll work hard to move him up tomorrow."
Jakub Smrz says: "Today we worked hard on setting up the bike for the race and it did bear fruit. This track is better for us due to the bike’s features, more than Monza and so I’ll try my best to do just as well tomorrow, hopefully score a great result on Sunday. We still have to try out some things, I’m confident we can further improve".
Cal Crutchlow says: "I think today went ok, I’m pretty pleased to be honest. I should have been fastest but I got held up on my last hot lap. I think it’s going to be difficult in race conditions; tyre wear is a big issue as the track is very abrasive. Overall second fastest isn’t too bad on the first day, we’ll go away now and will look at more improvements for tomorrow with the team."
James Toseland says: "It’s my first day back on the bike since my crash last week and it’s also my first time back on this track for ten years, it’s very technical and I’d forgotten how bumpy it is. Unfortunately the base setting we started the session with wasn’t right so we had a lot of work to do to get the bike working well. At the end we found something that worked better and got down to good race times, so tomorrow we’ll improve on that some more and we will get down to the faster times they’re running at the front today. Given everything I’m only just over a second off after the first day so I’m not displeased with that and we’ve got a lot more to give tomorrow."
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager) says "I was a little bit worried today, this is not traditionally a good track for us, but finally the results were good. Tomorrow I believe James will move up as he gets used to the track again and improves his set up. Last year the track was the most difficult for us, but after all our development the situation is completely different, to be second fastest with Cal and James only a second off after a big crash when hasn’t been here for ten years is pretty good, and taking into account our strong performance at Monza I am quite optimistic for tomorrow."
2010 WSB South Africa – Kyalami – Qualifying 1
1 Michel Fabrizio Ducati ITA 1’38.477
2 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’38.529
3 Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 1’38.687
4 Troy Corser BMW AUS 1’38.896
5 Leon Haslam Suzuki GBR 1’38.951
6 Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 1’38.954
7 Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 1’39.027
8 Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 1’39.094
9 Shane Byrne Ducati GBR 1’39.281
10 Luca Scassa Ducati ITA 1’39.288
11 Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 1’39.336
12 Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 1’39.621
13 Noriyuki Haga Ducati JPN 1’39.630
14 Ruben Xaus BMW ESP 1’39.642
15 James Toseland Yamaha GBR 1’39.656