Although Ducati ruled all of Friday’s and today’s final qualifying for World Superbike in Kyalami, Superpole was a different story, with Yamaha Sterilgarda riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland taking pole position and second on the grid, respectively.
But besides the impressive performance of the R1 machines, both riders posted laps under the record set by their predecessor and last year’s WSBK Champion, Ben Spies. Crutchlow’s Superpole lap time of 1:37.243 is currently the fastest lap at the Kyalami track.
After scoring the third Superpole this season, Crutchlow thinks the Yamaha team will have a "good chance to deliver in the races," and there will be "five or six (riders) up there all looking for a win."
The Brit may be correct, considering in Superpole the top four riders finished within 0.125 of a second of each other. Behind Crutchlow and Toseland sits to Ducatis, Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa and Friday’s fastest man, Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio.
Cal Crutchlow says: "It didn’t look like we were going to be one and two on the grid this weekend. Coming to what was Yamaha’s worst track last year results-wise, as a team we have done a fantastic job to get first and second. It will be interesting tomorrow but today is today and we are first and second. If we get away and make a good start then it will make for entertaining racing."
Toseland was slower than Crutchlow Friday and early today, but was able to find the correct setup by Superpole.
James Toseland says: "I went wide twice in my fast lap, and felt there was a high 1:36 in there. But to go from high 1:39s at the start of the weekend to even thinking about a high 1:36, it just gives great credit to the team. I came out this afternoon thinking, ‘right this championship is still there and I am not prepared to just let it slip away.’ To be second on the grid after being 17th this morning means I have to give thanks to everybody from the team and Clinica Mobile."
Checa, who posted a 1:37.296, finished both Kyalami races last year in sixth place. But with his third-place position on the grid, he has higher hopes for the race.
Carolos Checa says: "We did the best qualifying job of the year because we did not know the track, but we knew that the Ducati was going to work. Finally it was very exciting in qualifying, one of the closest. I though these guys in front would maybe be in the 1:36s but we all did 1:37.2s. I think we will have exciting racing."
On Friday, Fabrizio posted the fastest lap in Free Practice 1 and took the provisional pole, but was unable to improve on his times.
Michel Fabrizio says: "I thought I’d finished in second but in the end it was fourth. Anyway, I’m on the front row tomorrow and am confident that I can make two great races. We’ve been going strong both today and yesterday and I know I have good race pace. Of course the competition is always the same but, from fourth on the grid, I think I can push for the win."
Taking fifth on the grid is Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam, who posted a 1:37.410.
Leon Haslam says: "I’m pretty happy with fifth place today and I actually prefer it to fourth because it is a better place from which to attack the first turn. It’s an easier run and as long as I get a good start, I’m sure I’ll be there or thereabouts…When you get off that line, to pass somebody for example, it’s easy to get on a dirty and bumpy part of the track and make a mistake. The first corner is not very far away and after that there are a series of corners where it would be impossible to pass, so good starts are vital."
As for the only American racing currently competing, the Team Pedercini rider Roger Lee Hayden will be starting in 21st place after posting a 1:40.981. More Quotes
World Superbike Kyalami Superpole Results:
1. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1, 1’37.243 (157.190 km/h)
2. Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1, 1’37.260
3. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1198, 1’37.296
4. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1198, 1’37.368
5. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R 1000, 1’37.410
6. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1198, 1’37.561
7. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia, 1’37.613
8. Camier L. (FRA) Aprilia RSV4, 1’38.148
9. Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1198, 1’37.756
10. Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX R 1000, 1’37.875
11. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR 1000 RR, 1’37.953
12. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R, 1’38.206
13. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S 1000 RR, 1’38.210
14. Morais S. (RSA) Aprilia RSV4, 1’38.404
15. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S 1000 RR, 1’38.471
16. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1198, 1’38.496
17. Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR, 1’38.917
18. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’39.037
19. Vermeulen C. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’39.317
20. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR1000RR 1’40.713
21. Hayden R. (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’40.981
22. Baiocco M. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’41.526
South Africa Background
Only last year did the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit returned to the Superbike World Championship calendar after a seven-year break, South Africa having been a regular fixture in the series between 1998 and 2002.
However, motorsport has been a rare sight at Kyalami in recent years as the organizers have wrestled with stipulations governing noise levels – the circuit is surrounded by a residential area. The Kyalami circuit is located in Gauteng Province, between Johannesburg and the South African capital Pretoria.
After FP1, FP2 and Superpole, the World SBK riders agreed that lots of confidence in the set-up of their racebikes over the uneven surface of the anti-clockwise racetrack is essential.
The first corner is particularly important, with the riders having to brake extremely hard under lean-in. Added to which, there are one or two high-speed sections, which also have to be factored into the WSBK race set-up.
From the World Supersport Press Release
Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) did a 1’40.812 lap in final qualifying to take pole in South Africa, heading off perennial challenger Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda).
Third on the grid, despite pain from Friday’s crash, was Sofuoglu’s team-mate, Michele Pirro. With championship leader Joan Lascorz only eight, the best Kawasaki Motocard.com machine belonged to Katsuaki Fujiwara, fourth and in a front row starting position.
Matthieu Lagrive (ParkinGO Triumph BE1) used his Friday time to claim fifth place, one position up on his team-mate Chaz Davies. Massimo Roccoli made good early ground for his Intermoto Czech Honda team, going seventh on the grid. Lance Isaacs (BikeFin Safe Sky Honda) was top local qualifier, 11th.
World Supersport Times: 1. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’40.812 (151,625 km/h); 2. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’40.896; 3. Pirro M. (ITA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’41.415; 4. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’41.415; 5. Lagrive M. (FRA) Triumph 675 Daytona 1’41.418; 6. Davies C. (GBR) Triumph 675 Daytona 1’41.675; 7. Roccoli M. (ITA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’41.700; 8. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’41.856; 9. Salom D. (ESP) Triumph 675 Daytona 1’41.874; 10. Harms R. (DEN) Honda CBR 600 RR 1’42.060; etc.