2011 World Superbike
The World Superbike Championship got underway in clear conditions Saturday for Superpole at Brno in the Czech Republic.
The reigning World Superbike Champion Max Biaggi took his second pole position of the season (first at Monza) aboard the Alitalia Aprilia RSV4. The Roman Emperor was one of three riders to post under the 1:59 mark.
The other two riders were Yamaha Superbike’s Marco Melandri and the current points’ leader, Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa. Melandri’s teammate Eugene Laverty placed his YZF-R1 in the final position on the front row.
Following is what the WSBK pilots were saying following Saturday’s Brno Superpole:
Max Biaggi (Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 Superbike) says: "Obviously I’m very pleased to start from the front, and also to have made a really good lap. Evidently, along with my team, we have adapted well to the track’s extremely fickle conditions. I’m also pleased for the many fans that I have here and for the many who have followed me to be here. But, as always, what really counts are the results tomorrow.
"And that is a job that still must be done. I won’t delude myself. There are two very long and difficult races ahead of us tomorrow. There are many variables which can affect our performance tomorrow and the weather, which I’m told is uncertain, is the one I’m least concerned about."
Leon Camier (Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 Superbike) says: "Well, at least I can say I picked the right turn to fall on – joked Camier at the end of Superpole – I really thought I’d had it, and I’m not pleased about the mistake, but I was able to recover quite well. Starting from the second row won’t compromise my hopes of doing well tomorrow and, considering how things were shaping up, I have to be happy."
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R Superbike) says: "I think we did a great job throughout the whole weekend. We didn’t have any particular expectations; we followed our normal work program and are happy with the outcome. Qualifying went well and we finished third in Superpole.
"It will be a tough battle especially against Max and Marco tomorrow as you can see they have a strong pace but I believe we can stay with them at the front, this is the objective at least. Tomorrow’s races will have a lot to do with the tyres, the temperature and the general conditions, and we’ll see how we measure up against the others. But considering that this is not one of our favorite tracks, we are satisfied with today’s result."
Michel Fabrizio (Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike) says: "I am happy to be on the first two rows of the grid, because it feels like a long time since I was there. It was very hard work out there today and I am very tired now because I was riding over my limit. But that’s what you have to do in Superpole and today my reward was the sixth quickest lap time.
"Our plan, as usual, was to get into Superpole 3 and we did that today by using our two qualifying tyres in Superpoles 1 and 2. That meant that I only had regular race rubber to use in Superpole 3 and so I wasn’t able to go any faster.
"Yesterday we had some problems with the rear end of the bike moving around on the brakes and today we solved the problem just by changing the tyre. I am happy with the set-up of my bike for the race and I am looking forward to getting two good starts and being right with the leaders from the beginning. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, but I really don’t think any of us want that. It will make life difficult for all of us and I don’t think the fans would be too happy either. I hope it stays dry and I can fight for the podium in both races."
Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad S1000RR Superbike) says: "As soon as we have rear grip on the bike we come across a lot of issues. The bike gets better the older the tire gets, but with a new grippy tyre the issues start.
"The engine still accelerates into the corners, which on this circuit is quite difficult. The rear grip with the bike was really good with the qualifying tyre. I made a mistake on that lap with the engine push. So less than a tenth again and we are out. Our race pace is quite good, and this circuit is a bit wider and flowing, so we just need another good start and then we will try to get the best result we can."
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R Superbike) says: "Overall, not too bad because our target is always to get on the front two rows. Our hand got forced and we had to use a qualifier in Superpole one that was not in our script! We put a hard front tyre in thinking we should be OK but the tyre would not dig in and grip and make the apex the way we wanted it to and I almost lost the front a couple of times.
"In Superpole Two when we tried another option of front tire and another rear qualifier, everybody saw what we could do. The boys are working hard and I am digging in and we managed to put it on the second row of the grid. Tomorrow is another day and we will keep chipping away and hopefully we can have a bit of a surprise like Misano and Aragon. We were pole and second row there, and were running top five in the races. I just need something I have not quite mastered on this bike yet, a good clean start. If we get that I am confident that I can get away and be top five or six again."
Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R Superbike) says: "It has been difficult because I crashed in free practice in the morning yesterday and in the afternoon in qualifying I did not have a good result. I changed the settings for today and we improved the rear shock and in the end I put on a new set of tires to do a fast time. Then we had a little problem with the filter in the fuel tank being a little blocked, so I could not make the time I wanted to. I missed out on Superpole so it will be difficult because of my starting position but there are some places to pass here at Brno."
Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R Superbike) says: "I fell in the first session yesterday and I landed on my same elbow I had injured previously. It has swollen up quite a lot. There is no major damage and the doctors said I can ride but it will be painful. I also landed on my back, which is quite stiff and sore. We started one session behind because my bike was damaged in the Friday crash and we could not get it fixed in time to go out again. Yesterday afternoon it went well and the times came a bit better. Today we have not been able to improve the bike to get that next half-second, which is what I need to get into that next group ahead."
Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R Superbike) says: "Our bike seems to work best when we have a lot of tire grip. There is a lot of transfer of weight when we have the grip and this helps our situation a lot. When we have less grip there is less transfer and less feeling from the bike. That is what we are trying to understand more fully now. We have changed a few things this weekend and we also changed the settings for Superpole. We are trying something different every time and finding improvements."
Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia S1000RR Superbike) says:: "I am very pleased with the progress and my bike following the two days on track. The weekend did not start well, but we were calm and, thanks to great team work, we got back to where we need to be. The engineers found a set-up on the second bike in practice that gives a good pace and we have chosen to use that for the race tomorrow. I was hoping to get into Superpole 3 but I didn’t get the best from the rubber in Superpole two. I am pleased with the times set on race tyres. In warm up tomorrow morning we need to check and confirm the choices we’ve made for the race. "
Lorenzo Lanzi (BMW Motorrad Italia S1000RR Superbike) says: "Today’s work was generally positive and I have a good feel for the bike. I set the Superpole time on Friday, because the track was too hot today to lap faster. For tomorrow we can keep a good race pace and personally I would like to improve my previous result on the BMW S1000RR.
"It would have been useful to practice on Friday morning but regardless I continue to learn and get a better feel for the bike. In Superstock, Sylvain Barrier will start from the front row, thanks to setting the third fastest time. Lorenzo Zanetti, however, was in severe pain from the after-effects of his crash in practice yesterday and couldn’t better seventh place which puts him on the second row.
Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR Superbike) says: "It’s been a very tough weekend for me so far and we have not been able to dial out the chatter problem I’ve had. Also, with the higher track temperatures today, the grip level fell and we have been looking for the right balance today. It didn’t come unfortunately and that will mean two difficult races tomorrow but I think temperatures will be lower tomorrow which might help a little bit."
Alex Lowes (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR Superbike) says: "I definitely made some improvements on the braking side today and you can see from the data that, in some places, I’m braking twice as hard as yesterday. It’s difficult to make such a major change to my riding and I’ve been concentrating so hard that sometimes it’s affected other par ts of my riding!
"But I’m loving it and learning all the time about the bike and about how I can improve how I ride it. I’ve knocked about three seconds off my lap time since yesterday and I’m going to shave some more off tomorrow and try to have two mega races. I can’t wait for the lights to go off now!"
Melandri Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "It was a good day for me, my Yamaha worked very well. My team has done a great job, working hard and step by step making improvements, so thanks a lot to them! We knew the qualifying would be difficult so I’m really happy with my second place.
"It’s not pole position but that’s not important for me. The main thing is to be on the front row. The weather conditions tomorrow will make it interesting. We are expecting rain so anything can happen. But also if it’s hot like today the race will be difficult too, as it won’t be easy to keep the pace."
Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1) says: "This morning we tried something which didn’t work very well, so we had to take a step backwards. In the free practice session we made progress in the right direction and I topped the times for the first time this year, which I am quite pleased with. Superpole went smoothly. All I wanted was a front row for two good races tomorrow so that’s what I’m hoping for. A good starting place on the grid is very important in order to be in a position to fight for a win. That’s what I’m aiming for, but I’d be happy with a podium!"
Roberto Rolfo (Pederecini Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike) says: "I’m really disappointed that I was not able to enter the Superpole as it was an attainable goal for me, but I’m happier than yesterday because I was able to improve on my best lap time even if the track conditions were not so favourable after overnight rain.
"Yesterday I decided to use the soft tire too late and today it was difficult to improve on my performance. In any case I’m confident for tomorrow’s races also because during the afternoon’s free session my technicians worked hard to attain certain objectives and my feeling with the bike is now better. Tomorrow I’ll be starting from the fifth row and it won’t be easy, but I’ll try to do my best and I hope to reach good results."
Mark Aitchison (Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike) says: "I have really enjoyed my time on the bike in Brno today. In qualifying and during the free practice sessions my team and I worked hard with our new clutch setting to find the best direction.
"We are making steady improvements forward and I’m gaining more confidence each time with this. During our Superpole run, my team again improved my feeling on the bike and I was able to push very hard with the qualifying tires. I will focus on selecting the right tires tomorrow for both races, depending on the temperature and then have some fun on the track."