Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) burst back onto top form in the first period of World Superbike qualifying, setting the best time of the opening day with a 1’59.277. He was less than a second from the track best.
Noriyuki Haga says: “Feeling with my bike improved this afternoon, as we took another step with regard to the suspension and that helped, as did changing the tyre pressure. We still need to improve braking in certain sections of the track, and I’m not sure about tyres yet, because although the new one seems fairly consistent, I still want to try our “usual” tyre tomorrow and see how it works in these conditions. We’ve made a good start and will try to improve further in tomorrow’s sessions.”
Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) was also into the 1’59s, second overall, with leader from the free practice session this morning, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), third.
Cal Crutchlow says: “It wasn’t too bad today considering we all struggled for grip at the start of the sessions, it came a bit better later on. From my point of view we’ve got a lot of work to do chassis set up wise. We tried the set up we had in Imola but it didn’t work here, so we didn’t get many laps in the qualifying session as we were changing the bike. We’ve gone back to our old base set up and it seems to be working better here. We’re struggling for side grip a bit but the lap times towards the end of the fifteen laps I did weren’t so bad. We’ll see for tomorrow, and I hope Troy Corser is ok and back with us tomorrow.”
For Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) Brno is his favourite circuit, one he was fifth at today.
Mac Biaggi says: “Compared to last year the bike is more edgy, it has quicker reactions, so on a track which is ridden like this one is, we’ll have some trouble coming out of the turns strong. We need to perfect the set-up we’ve been using for a lot of recent races, working above all on the balancing of the RSV4 in order to better manage the grip and long distance. The tyres aren’t a problem, I’ve tried different ones in order to judge the bike’s reactions well. I like to race at Brno, we have identified the points we need to work on, so tomorrow we’ll see if our intuitions are correct”.
Max was ahead of another rider who was resurgent in qualifying, BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Ruben Xaus. Having crashed and broken his right leg here last year, this was Ruben’s near perfect comeback ride at this 5.403km circuit.
Ruben Xaus says: “More than anything else I hope Troy is okay, and I hope he can ride tomorrow. Apart from that, I feel quite confident. The bike is working very well. We had a successful test in Imola, and we did not change the set-up very much. Physically, I am still struggling a little bit with my injured calf, but I am a lot better than I was in Imola. I can now do more than just a couple of laps in a row. Now I need to rest to be well-prepared for tomorrow.”
Local hero Jakub ‘Kuba’ Smrz (Pata B&G Aprilia) found himself on a new machine this weekend, and made good use of his vee-four Aprilia, seventh fastest in the first qualifying session, one place above the determined Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda).
Jakub Smrz says: “It was a positive day, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to get a better feeling with the bike. The machine is completely different from the Ducati 1198, but I don’t think it’s going to be very hard to adapt. However, we have to improve, especially I have to get comfortable with the new bike, because it’s not easy to learn it in only a couple of hours”.
A former winner at this race, James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) was ninth, privateer Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati) a fine tenth.
Alstare Suzuki’s talented duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam had a tough first day, with Sylvain 15th and Leon 17th. Top Kawasaki rider was Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 18th.
Leon Haslam says: “It was not an easy day for us, but the bottom line is that we think we have identified what happened and know what we can do to the bike to improve it. We had a big problem with grip today and although it was better in the afternoon, if you got off line, the track still felt pretty slippery. Like Misano, I sort of think that our problems today are a combination of new tyres, some problems sorting which way to go with the anti-braking system and the lack of track grip. We’ve had a long, hard look at the telemetry and we know what we’re going to do with the bike tomorrow, so that’s a good and positive way to end the day.
Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) qualified 12th but fell near the end of the session, and suffered a bruised chest and suspected concussion, and his condition will be reviewed for tomorrow’s race.
Davide Tardozzi says: “Most important is the news that Troy is not badly injured. We all feel sorry for him, and we hope that he will be okay as soon as possible. This is the only thing we are concerned about. He was flown to Brno by the helicopter for further precautionary checks.”
The Friday ‘front row’ was completed by privateer Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati), while Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad) had a crash late in the session.
Carlos Checa says: “I lost the front, probably going over a pothole, and I couldn’t keep from falling”, said the Spanish rider, third in the overall standings. “It was a pity because I’d built up a good rhythm. When I went back on track, with the second bike and new tyres, I immediately built up good pace again. We’ve worked hard on the fork and on the general rideability, and have found a great set-up. This is the first time that I’m riding a Ducati here and I must say that, for day one, I’m pretty satisfied.”
Roger Lee Hayden says:”Today it was pretty difficult for me because I’m suffering an inner ear infection and this conditioned my balance and my concentration. Near the end of the qualifying I tried to push hard to obtained a good lap time but it’s really difficult to ride in these physical conditions. I’m experiencing a lot of pain now, but hopefully tonight I’ll be able to rest and feel better tomorrow.”
Brno Superbike – Qualifying 1st Session
1. 41 Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’59.277
2. 35 Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’59.571
3. 84 Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’59.730
4. 7 Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 2’00.153
5. 3 Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2’00.174
6. 111 Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 2’00.273
7. 96 Smrz J. (CZE) Aprilia RSV4 1000 F. 2’00.348
8. 65 Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 2’00.442
9. 52 Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 2’00.451
10. 99 Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 2’00.463
11. 57 Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 2’00.475
12. 11 Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 2’00.508
13. 67 Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 2’00.534
14. 76 Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 2’00.701
15. 50 Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 2’00.739
16. 2 Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2’00.745
17. 91 Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 2’01.003
18. 66 Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 2’01.026
19. 77 Vermeulen C. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 2’01.497
20. 23 Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR1000RR 2’01.805
21. 15 Baiocco M. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 2’02.239
22. 95 Hayden R. (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 2’02.684