Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Ducati) rode his 1098R Ducati to provisional world Superbike pole after the first qualifying session at Miller Motorsports Park in the USA, setting a 1’48.517 that was under the existing motorcycle racing lap record, if not quite beating the absolute track best.
Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) was a close second, and the Yamaha Sterilgarda four-cylinder machine of Cal Crutchlow third.
World Championship leader Leon Haslam was fourth on his Suzuki Alstare machine, after a steady untimed session earlier this afternoon.
Althea Ducati riders Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne mixed it up with the factory bikes once again, going fifth and sixth respectively on what was a good first day for the twin-cylinder machines, which are now 3kg lighter from this round onwards.
Despite a crash late in the session double world champion James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) was seventh, and only 0.370 seconds from provisional pole man Smrz. In another impressive ride, Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati) was a firm eighth, ahead of the factory BMW of Troy Corser.
Max Biaggi’s Aprilia Alitalia RSV4 set a whopping top speed of 313.7 kmph on the main straight today, with Max tenth overall, just ahead of top Honda finisher from the Hannspree Ten Kate team, Jonathan Rea.
JAKUB SMRZ say: "We scored a great result which means we’re on the right path. The team did a great job to prepare the machine for the race. I was among the fastest right away, from the morning practice session. In the afternoon, I started off very determined, but I got temporarily passed by the end of the session, while I was in the pit lane. I returned to the track with new tyre and managed to score this great result. I’m very confident for tomorrow’s qualifying practice, I can certainly improve, but I know that tomorrow is going to be very hard to repeat the result. I’ll try my best nonetheless".
Michel Fabrizio says: "We still have work to do tomorrow with regard to the set-up of my 1198 but I’d say we’ve made a good start today. I was able to make some fast laps but tomorrow we need to concentrate more on the durability of the tyres, and make a long run to understand how the two available tyres behave. For now I’m very happy and today’s results bode well for Monday’s races."
Noriyuki Haga says: "I seem to have better feeling with the bike with respect to last year at this track, the level of absorption is better. Today we concentrated mainly on the race distance but we know what direction to take tomorrow and will of course aim to improve on times. We still have to decide which tyre to use for the races as it will depend greatly on weather conditions but I can say that I’m feeling fairly confident ahead of tomorrow and Monday’s races."
Max Biaggi says: "In the race we will need to know how to choose and this is why today we worked so hard to have all of the elements to make the definitive choice tomorrow. Let’s say that today we sorted out which solutions we like best and what doesn’t work so well. Of course for now these are assumptions that must be verified, but it is clearer now how we can work on the bike and improve our lap times".
Leon Camier says: "Not bad for the first day of practice on this track. I must say that I like it. It’s a well designed track with excellent asphalt. We went back to the set up from Assen and I think it was the best choice. It’s a very good starting place. The feeling was immediately positive even though there is still work to be done on some details. I’m also trying to improve my movements on the bike with some updates on the ergonomics and my riding style, and I think that they are important steps on a track which is ridden like Miller is."
Cal Crutchlow says: "It wasn’t too bad today, third position is pretty good. I had some issues with the brakes and was struggling to stop in some places, making it difficult to judge when to brake. We’ve got some new things to try tomorrow, and I have to say it’s a very different riding experience on the R1 compared to the Supersport bike last year."
James Toseland says: "I’ve never been too bad at learning circuits, but it’s been pretty impressive for some of the guys including Frankie my Crew Chief as it’s their first time here too. To get the bike running as well as it was today is great, fair play to them. I’m a bit annoyed with myself for the crash as I don’t usually make mistakes like that, I just got a bit excited as the bike was feeling so good. I thought I could go round the corner a bit faster than the package could, I think I was 17 years old the last time my enthusiasm outmatched my talent! All in all a good day, I’m pleased with the progress and it’s a great track, the bike works really well round here."
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager) says: "We made a good start today. We are improving the bike all the time and we came here knowing we had good results from last year which gave us a confident start. We didn’t push too hard, and hopefully tomorrow we will make another step forward. We have a technical problem with Cal’s brakes which we are looking into and will resolve for tomorrow. James had a small crash at the end of qualifying but he had no injuries at all."
Leon Haslam says: "I think today was pretty good and I certainly got a feel for the track this morning. This afternoon we used some of the good stuff (tyres) that we’ll be racing on and I am pretty happy with how we got on. We had a bit of a chatter-problem today and it was worse the more aggressive I was, but not so bad when I rode smoothly: Though when I rode very smoothly, my lap times were not so good! The general layout of this track needs a very different set-up to Kyalami in the last round and although our current set-up is not bad, we will try and improve it and the balance of the bike tomorrow. The aim tomorrow is to work on getting a good set-up and making sure that the tyres will last a race distance OK."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "I’m not sure what to say really, except that I have been learning the track OK and the afternoon felt a lot better than the morning. I know that doesn’t seem much: when you consider I ended-up 17th today, but this track is very technical and it is difficult to knock off those last fractions of a second which are so important. I think the track is good and I like it very much. I know there’s quite a bit more to come from me and tomorrow we’ll work on improving the balance of the bike and finding a good set-up. I had some brake problems today – inconsistency – and that’s another area we will have to sort out tomorrow."
Jonathan Rea says: "I’m a bit disappointed with where we ended up today after the first qualifying session, especially as everything felt pretty good afte r the first practice session this morning. The problem we have is that, at the moment, the bike is better suited to longer runs. It kind of backs up what we’ve found in recent races when I’ve been strongest towards the end of the race. We’ll look to change the balance a little tomorrow to try and put in a one lap wonder like everyone else seems to be able to do."
Max Neukirchner says: "I seem to still be having the same problems. It’s fine in the first session, but I reach the limit very quickly and I am unable to improve afterwards. When I try to push to stay with the faster riders, I have problems on braking for corner entry and holding a line. I started with two different set-ups this morning – one with more weight on the front and the other with more on the rear. I definitely had a better feeling with the second option, so we’ll have to try and develop this some more for tomorrow."
Ronald ten Kate says: "In spite of the position we’re in, we’re not in any kind of panic. Jonathan’s set-up on well-used race tyres is good, so now we just need to find something like a qualifying trim for him to make a couple of fast laps when he needs to. Max started with two different options this morning, but neither worked for him as we would have wanted. He’ll need to settle on something quickly tomorrow in order for him to progress into Superpole to get a decent qualifying position."
Troy Corser says: "We face similar problems to what we did in Kyalami. The harder I try to push, the less the bike works for me. As soon as I open the throttle the rear of the bike sits, and I lose the position and grip, especially in the fast corners. That is why I lose half a second over a lap. We need to work on the chassis and sort that out. Tomorrow will be difficult."
"I travelled to the United States a couple of days before the race weekend. Together with a couple of friends, I did a road trip on a BMW R 1200 GS from Salt Lake City to the Grand Canyon. The bike is simply made for trips like this: The engine is smooth, the bike is comfortable and not heavy at all. In total, we rode about 1.600 kilometres in three days, and the highest point of the trip was more than 3.600 metres in altitude. It was a fascinating trip."
Ruben Xaus says: "Today was a difficult day. We need to find a set-up that will allow me to control and steer the bike better. The bike simply needs to be more rideable. I trust in my crew, and I believe we can perform better tomorrow. "
Davide Tardozzi (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team Manager) says: "Today was tough for us. We struggled with the top speed, and we also need to get our rear tyres working for a longer time. We will now analyse the data and see what we can find for tomorrow."
Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) and Biaggi’s teammate Leon Camier were the last of 13 leading riders all within the same second.
Top Kawasaki Racing Team rider on show proved to be Tom Sykes, 14th, one up on Ruben Xaus’ works BMW, those two riders keeping Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) in 16th.
Sylvain Guintoli was 17th for Alstare Suzuki, while local rider Roger Lee Hayden made the best of his home advantage in his rookie WSB season to go 18th for Pedercini Kawasaki.
World SBK Times
1. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’48.517 (162,787 km/h); 2. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’48.670; 3. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’48.682; 4. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’48.734; 5. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’48.742; 6. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’48.853; 7. Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’48.887; 8. Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’48.945; 9. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’49.040; 10. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.191; 11. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’49.281; 12.Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’49.386; 13. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.443; 14. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’49.748; 15. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1’49.961; 16. Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 1’50.121; 17. Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’50.133; 18. Hayden R. (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’50.806; 19.Parkes B. AUS) Honda CBR1000RR 1’51.074; 20.Vermeulen C. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’51.122; 21.Baiocco M. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’53.724
Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) once more made a good start to his race weekend, posting a 1’51.652 second lap to break the outright Supersport best lap at Miller. He has a clear early advantage over Kawasaki Motocard.com rider Joan Lascorz, who set a 1’52.211. Spaniard David Salom (ParkinGo BE-1 Triumph) ensured there was variety in the top slots by finishing third quickest, one place up on supported Kawasaki rider Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni). Experienced privateer rider Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing Honda) beat the official Honda of 2009 Miller race winner Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) for fifth place. Local man Jason DiSalvo (ParkinGo Be-1 Triumph) was creditable seventh. Nineteen riders have qualified so far. One more qualifying session remains to determine the final grid line up.
Times: 1. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR600RR 1’51.652 (158,217 km/h); 2. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’52.211; 3. Salom D. (ESP)Triumph Daytona 675 1’52.310; 4. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’52.328; 5. Harms R. (DEN) Honda CBR600RR 1’52.509; 6. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR600RR 1’52.534; 7. DiSalvo J. (USA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’52.607; 8. Davies C. (GBR) Triumph Daytona 675 1’52.646; 9. Pirro M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’52.732; 10. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’53.015; 11. Lagrive M. (FRA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’53.329; 12. Rea G. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.425; 13. Roccoli M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.647; 14. Praia M. (POR) Honda CBR600RR 1’54.313; 15. Lundh A. (SWE) Honda CBR600RR 1’54.467; 16. Odom T. (USA) Honda CBR600RR 1’54.637; 17. Chesaux B. (SUI) Honda CBR600RR 1’56.813; 18. Farrell J. (USA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’57.314; 19. Paris M. (USA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.826