Phillip Island WSBK: Superpole Rider Talk

World Superbike Superpole

Carlos Checa took the first Superpole of the 2011 World Superbike Championship after an outstanding performance on Saturday, one that included setting a new lap record at Phillip Island.

The 38-year-old Spaniard posted a 1:30.882, which is impressive even in MotoGP standards; during the 2010 MotoGP round at Phillip Island, Casey Stoner, then a Ducati Team rider, posted a fastest lap of 1:30.4 aboard the Ducati GP10 prototype.

Not far behind was Aprilia’s Max Biaggi. The reigning World Superbike Champion was only 0.013 of a second behind Checa.

Joining Checa and Biaggi up front Sunday will be Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert – Liberty Racing Ducati) and Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad), respectively.

Following are some rider quotes following Saturday’s WSBK Superpole for the season opener at Phillip Island, Australia.

Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R) says: "In the end it was a very hard-fought Superpole but we are of course happy to have closed in pole position. We knew that it would be more difficult with qualifiers which usually bring riders’ times closer together.

"To start from the front of the grid is obviously valuable but I’m aware that I also need to make a good start to the races. Let’s say that I don’t trust anyone, in the sense that tomorrow will surely be a battle! We’ll see tomorrow how best to manage the situation but I think Biaggi will be my main rival. I am however determined to bring home two great results."

Max Biaggi (Alitalia Aprilia RSV-4) says: "Wow! Thirteen thousandths are nothing. It means that even on this track which has never favoured us we have improved a lot compared to the last two years, coming close to the best.

"I am truly happy with this result which is to the merit of the team’s hard work coming here and testing during the off season. Those tests allowed us to better understand our problems, so we worked hard on the details, small adjustments which can make the difference. The engineers were very good.

"We are not the fastest, but one thing for sure is that for the races we’re competitive. Tomorrow the weather conditions will be important, the temperature and the tires we choose as a consequence. Then, as always, we’ll be ready to give it our all."

Leon Camier
(Alitalia Aprilia RSV-4) says: "It’s frustrating not being able to ride, especially for the first race. Quite simply my cough and general weariness hinder my concentration and consequently from focusing on what I’m doing.

"At the moment the fever is not the biggest problem, but I feel very tired and even just walking I’m not able to breathe properly, so just imagine after 3-4 laps. At this point I just hope I’m feeling better. Unfortunately tomorrow I’ll start from way back and it will be truly difficult."

Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR) says: "It would probably be easier to tell you which bits don’t hurt but, on a positive note, we were able to confirm that our chosen tire works in warmer conditions.

"When I put my first qualifier in it was hooking up really well but I was getting stuck behind a slower rider on my fast lap and I went a little bit deep into the last turn and caught some bumps. I lost the front and went down but got back to the box with enough time go out on the other bike.

"To be honest, I missed my apex on turn one and that was the lap finished. Tomorrow’s a new day and I’ll try to take some positives out of all this. The bike’s feeling good and I haven’t done any further damage, which is a big bonus. It’s the first round of the championship so we’ll just dig deep for a couple of decent points-scoring finishes tomorrow, see where we end up and put last few days behind us.

Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR) says: I’m suffering from the rear jumping around at the moment and I can’t seem to make the bigger tire work that everyone else is using. I’m using the smaller tire but when we find a setting to get more grip it seems to make the bumps problem even worse.

"We’ve tried to set up the bike completely differently to avo id the problem but then it goes to the front! I know that if we can eliminate this problem, I’ve got maybe six or seven tenths, which would certainly improve the position.

"Everything else is great – the team is working well and on slower corners the bike feels fantastic and I can match the guys at the front. It’s just at the faster corners, but there are four of those here, where you are a long time on the side of the tire, which makes it very difficult."

Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "So far so good! I’ve really been enjoying the weekend so far; everything seems to be running really smoothly. We’re still working on our set up for race distance but for the faster laps in qualifying it seems to have worked well.

"Superpole was a new experience for me, the qualifying tires require quite a different style of riding so I think I’m yet to get the best out of them. Bring on tomorrow, I’m ready and really excited about seeing what we can do, I just hope it doesn’t rain!"

Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "Yesterday was a bad day for me, today was better but still difficult! The Superpole event was new for me, so I’m happy to be on the second row at the end.

"I really like it, it’s like having three times qualifying so it’s pretty nice. It was pretty tough initially as I’ve never tried the qualifying tires before, so I had no time to get used to the way they feel. I’m more confident for the races now so we will see what happens tomorrow."

Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare GSX-R1000) says: "It would’ve been good to get into final Superpole and onto the second row of the grid at least, but I missed out by a very small margin. I am pretty happy with what we have achieved and all the hard work we have done. For my first race weekend with the team, I think we have managed a lot better than a lot of people expected. We tried many things today and got through all the work really well, ending with a good set-up on the bike.

"The team did really well to build me a new bike after my crash late yesterday afternoon and I would like to say thank you to them. Hopefully, I will be able to repay them tomorrow with some good results. I have two good bikes and because they are the same, I am happy to ride either.

"Although, I am on the third row of the grid, it will be OK as long as I get good starts. The first corner tightens up in the middle quite a bit and I don’t want to get held up there in the pack. If that happens, I will have to push a lot harder and that wears the tyres out more.

"I think we have decided what tyres to use in the races tomorrow and we’ll be going for a hardish front because it will last better. The soft front is good, but it moves around a bit too much. This track is quite bumpy, so you have to have the bike set up well to absorb the bumps as best you can.

"It’s difficult to predict what will happen tomorrow, but I am feeling fit, strong and more than ready to race. I would like to start the season strongly and a pair of good results will be what I am chasing tomorrow."

Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad S1000RR) says: "This is a great result. If someone had offered me a front row start two weeks ago I would have been over the moon, so certainly we are all really happy. The team has pulled together and worked hard to overcome the issues we have had so far this weekend, and the end result has come at the right time.

"We have made good progress, but I still have a few areas I want to work on tomorrow before the races. Still as a team we are confident we have the pace to do well in the races tomorrow. Everybody in the team has worked very hard, so thanks to all the guys."

Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad S1000RR) says: "We struggled at the start of the weekend with the set-up, but since then we have all worked really hard to make positive steps forward. Leon and I were having the same issues, but collectively we found a solution and we both showed clear signs of improvement.

"In the last session I didn’t have a new qualifying tyre to go out on, so I had to settle for a used one, but I cannot complain. Our race pace looks pretty good on paper, but a lot depends on the temperatures around here. On the whole I think we can all look forward to tomorrow."

Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini ZX-10R) says: "I’m very disappointed for the team and myself because I was not able to achieve the lap time I needed to enter Superpole. I knew it was attainable and I pushed very hard to improve my lap time, but three times I risked a crash and so preferred not to risk any more, especially in view of tomorrow’s double race.

"The team has been fantastic and we have been making strong progress over the weekend. We did a good job also in the afternoon free practice, improving my bike setting, and tomorrow I’ll try my best to take some good results for my team and my sponsor."

Roberto Rolfo (Team Pedercini ZX-10R) says: "I’m definitely more satisfied today, compared with yesterday’s qualifying session. Today I was able to continuously improve my best lap time and the feeling I have with my bike is getting better.

"Today we made some important modifications to my bike’s set-up and now I know we are going in the right direction. Of course I’m not happy with today’s results but I’m sure that the Kawasaki has great potential and I’m more confident for tomorrow races."

Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini ZX-10R) says: "Our second day of qualifying and practice went well. During the session I have experimented with a few different settings and I found some more comfort with the bike.

"The weekend here in Phillip Island is really like a test for our team and with these changes we are gathering data for the future rounds. I think I know exactly which tire combination I will use for the race, so after warm up we will evaluate the weather condition and close the set up. I look forward to my first Superbike races tomorrow, they’ll be tough, but I’m sure I’ll have fun."

Tom Sykes (Team Kawasaki ZX-10R) says: "We made good progress earlier today but in the hotter conditions in the afternoon we were not able to use the best of the softer race tires and qualifying tires, which bumped us down the final order a bit. We are going to have to work on that, and try to find a good harmony in suspension and chassis in those conditions.

"It was frustrating to go from third in combined qualifying to the third row, but it is one of those things, and tomorrow is another day. It’s the only day that counts for real. We need to have some points in the bag from these races and continue our strong development program. I was really pleased to be top three after combined qualifying, it shows our true potential."

Joan Lascorz (Team Kawasaki ZX-10R) says: "We had different settings on the bike because the conditions changed and it proved difficult in Superpole. I used a qualifying tire but it made no real difference to the lap time. We could do the same on the race tires.

"We will see how the races are tomorrow but I am quite tired now and will rest and recover before warm-up. I am looking forward to the first races in this class and if we can find good settings for the conditions, I will be happy."

Maxime Berger (Supersonic Racing Ducati) says: "I’m sorry for not being able to do what we wanted for my first Superpole in my career. In qualifying this morning, after trying the new engine, we mounted softer tires, but unfortunately I could not grab one of the sixteen positions.

"I feel disappointed, but also satisfied, my bike improved again and we collected a large amount of data that will be useful for the two races tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day of my debut in World Superbike and certainly I give the best for me and my team, these days they gave me a huge help."

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