Press releases from the series organizers and World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying at Sepang:
Guintoli takes Tissot-Superpole in Sepang
Sepang (Malaysia), Saturday 7 June 2014 - With high track and air temperatures the first ever Tissot-Superpole at the Sepang International Circuit has been won by Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), who will start from pole position for the fourth time in his WSBK career.
At the end of a hot and humid 15 minutes on track Guintoli secured his second Superpole of the year, winning the grid deciding battle by a margin of 0.106s courtesy of a 2’03.002s lap time set in the closing stages.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) complete the front row with Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) and an unlucky Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), who crashed whilst on a potential Pole Position lap, making up row two in both of tomorrow’s 16 lap encounters.
In the EVO category, the accolade of being the first classified competitor went to David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) who qualified 12th overall.
Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), ninth, and Salom were the first 2 classified riders in Superpole 1, progressing to the final shootout with the already seeded top ten from the combined free practice sessions. Ayrton Badovini (Team Bimota Alstare) had been on course for one of the coveted top two places before the Italian fell, thankfully without injury.
Times: 1. Guintoli (Aprilia) 2'03.002 average 162.378 kph; 2. Sykes (Kawasaki) 2'03.108; 3. Giugliano (Ducati) 2'03.137; 4. Elias (Aprilia) 2'03.160; 5. Melandri (Aprilia) 2'03.971; 6. Baz (Kawasaki) 2'04.027; 7. Laverty (Suzuki) 2'04.263; 8. Davies (Ducati) 2'04.343; 9. Lowes (Suzuki) 2'04.433; 10. Rea (Honda) 2'04.514; 11. Haslam (Honda) 2'05.202; 12. Salom (Kawasaki) 2'06.388; 13. Canepa (Ducati); 14. Corti (MV Agusta); 15. Iddon (Bimota); 16. Camier (BMW); 17. Morais (Kawasaki); 18. Badovini (Bimota); 19. Foret (Kawasaki); 20. Guarnoni (Kawasaki).
Improvements for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in Sepang
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer Eugene Laverty secured seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s inaugural eni FIM Superbike World Championship races at the Sepang International Circuit during a blistering Superpole in Malaysia this afternoon.
Narrowly missing out on a second row start, Laverty set a time of 2’04.263 to take seventh position at the head of the third row for tomorrow’s first Superbike race at the Malaysian circuit. Having initially struggled with set-up, the Irishman settled into a comfortable rhythm with his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R, despite the tropical heat recording highs of 35°C and above, and feels confident that it’s a consistency he can carry through tomorrow’s two races.
Temperatures had already hit yesterday’s peak by the start of the morning free practice, which saw Alex Lowes miss out on a top ten spot, and therefore automatic promotion into the second of this afternoon’s Superpole sessions. Enduring the heat for both 15 minute stints, the British rider easily secured his place in the top twelve, with a time of 2’05.038 on his second flying lap of the opening session on-board his Suzuki GSX-R1000. While track temperatures soared to 60°C for the final shoot-out the championship rookie continued to improve, a 2’04.433 his fastest time of the day, to round out the third row in ninth place.
Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli continued his weekend form to claim the pole position with a 2’03.002; Kawasaki’s David Salom taking the fastest EVO time.
Sunday’s race action gets underway at 13:30hrs and 16:30hrs local time (06:30 and 09:30 BST) and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will look to advance early from its third row positions to challenge at the front during its Asian Superbike debut.
“We almost got the second row that I was after, but I made a mistake at the end of my best lap that otherwise would have got us there. P7 was a good day’s work considering we lost most of free practice four with a technical problem. The bike is working well in the hot conditions and it looks like tomorrow afternoon will be just that, so I need to get a good start and see how race one goes!”
“We are slowly getting there, it’s been quite difficult this weekend but we improved a little bit for qualifying and being in Superpole one actually gave me a bit more time to try a few things. I’m happy enough but it’s going to be some hard racing tomorrow. Hopefully we can make a few more changes to the front of the bike in warm up and enjoy two good races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have been improving the bike and the potential over the course of the weekend and we got a little bit closer to the fastest guys in qualifying today. Eugene was definitely good for the second row, but a mistake in the final corner cost us half a second, which has just knocked us back a little bit. Alex has improved considerably, and to come from Superpole one and end up on the third row is not a bad result. The top three riders seem to have a different level of pace here, especially on the new tyres, but after only four or five laps the grip is going to be gone for everybody and the race result will be defined by maintaining a decent lap time for 16 laps - we will do our best to get the GSX-R set up to accomplish the best result we possibly can tomorrow.”
Giugliano and the Ducati Superbike Team score a front row start for tomorrow’s races at Sepang
Sepang (Malaysia), Saturday 7 June 2014 – Despite today’s extreme track and weather conditions, Davide Giugliano and the Ducati Superbike Team put in an impressive performance in Superpole, earning a front row start, third, for tomorrow’s races. Eighth place for Chaz Davies.
In the third and final practice session, which took place on a slightly cooler track with respect to yesterday (40°C), all of the Superbike riders were able to improve on their best times set in the previous sessions. Both Chaz and Davide made a step forward in the early stages of the 45-minute session, with the Italian rider making another jump towards the end, recording a fastest time of 2’04.332 to propel himself into overall second position. Chaz’ best lap, a 2’04.967, meant that he secured final seventh position and safe passage to Superpole 2, together with his teammate.
Superpole 2 – Riders were in for an action-packed and extremely hot Superpole 2, with an air temperature of 35°C and a track temperature in the region of 60°C. Davies and Giugliano made only one lap each on the race tyre before heading straight back out on the qualifier, with 5 minutes still on the clock. Davide put in an extremely fast time – 2’03.137 – which assured him of a place on the front row of tomorrow’s race grid, in third position. Chaz, suffering from some understeer with the qualifying tyre, closed eighth with a best time of 2’04.343. He will therefore line up on row three for tomorrow’s 16-lap races.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team #34) – 3th (2’03.137)
“To be honest it wasn’t exactly the Superpole I was expecting – I knew that other riders could be really fast and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to make that kind of lap. But of course I’m really pleased to have scored another important front row start. We still have work to do because we need to improve in terms of race consistency but to start from the front row is of course nice, as well as an advantage. It’s not an easy track for Ducati, there are two long straights and it’s very fast, so that’s not ideal for our bike but I was nevertheless able to take a good result today, so I’m pleased.”
Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 8th (2’04.343)
“Superpole didn’t go well for me. With the qualifying tyre I struggled to turn the bike, it seemed like there was less grip rather than more, so the opposite of what I expected really. So I’m a bit disappointed with the qualifying result. We’ve probably made a small step forward today in terms of tyre consistency but it will be difficult tomorrow I think. I can’t make predictions, also because from what I’ve seen, no-one has made long-runs with consistently fast times. We’ve worked hard but we’ll have to wait and see what we are able to do tomorrow.”
Rea and Haslam toil under Sepang sun
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam endured a tough Superpole today in preparation for tomorrow’s two sixth-round World Superbike races at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
In temperatures nudging 40˚C and with the track temperature above 60˚C, the Pata Honda duo were able to put their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines no higher than the fourth row of the grid for Sunday's two 16-lap races at the 5.548km Sepang circuit 60km south of Kuala Lumpur.
French rider Sylvain Guintoli took pole position but the Pata Honda technical team will continue this evening its analysis of all the data produced by Rea and Haslam on the CBR’s Sepang debut in order produce two solid race performances tomorrow.
Jonathan Rea - P10, 2m04.514s
It’s been a difficult day and a difficult weekend so far because we’re trying to extract the best performance from the package here but we’re struggling. It’s mainly to do with engine brake and power delivery, which seems to be highlighted by the fact that it’s quite a low-grip surface here at Sepang and we’re on the side of the tyre for quite long periods in the long fast corners. I’m not used to starting this far back, to be honest, and although I made a small mistake on my qualifying tyre, I didn’t think it would be that critical. Everybody’s riding at a good level and we’re paying for that, so I just need to maximise the job tomorrow and come away with as many points as possible. But it’s sure not going to be easy!
Leon Haslam - P11, 2m05.202s
I’m not too unhappy actually, although I wasn’t happy with the big crash in FP4. We lost an important session which was the only one that was going to simulate temperatures that we can expect in the first race tomorrow and the only one when you do distance on old tyres. Again, like in Imola, I missed the whole session, which is more frustrating than anything. On the positive side, I did my fastest lap of the weekend on a race tyre in Superpole with a re-built bike, so I was quite happy with that. I went slower on the Q as usual because it throws up a lot of other issues. We’ve got some things to try in warm-up tomorrow but, for all the issues we’ve had this weekend, we’ve made some good progress today and we’re getting closer to where we should be.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
It wasn’t what we expected or wanted here but we learned yesterday that it wasn’t going to be easy. The grip levels and track layout were not helping us but 10th place for Jonathan is certainly not what we wanted. He could have been a little nearer to the front but made a small mistake in the last corner on the qualifying tyre, which also had something to do with how engine brake works with the qualifier. We’ve got some thinking to do and it looks like it’ll be a long day but hopefully we can find something for warm-up and fight for something in tomorrow’s races. Leon’s different approach to chassis and electronics set-up has shown some positives, despite his position on the grid. He was actually quite fast on the race tyre and I’m not so unhappy with the progress that we’r e seeing. I think he can have a couple of good races so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
GUINTOLI AND APRILIA AHEAD OF THE REST IN THE SEPANG SUPERPOLE.
MARCO MELANDRI IS ON THE SECOND ROW, LESS INCISIVE ON A SOFT TYRE BUT WITH A FAST RACE PACE.
THREE RSV4s ON THE FIRST TWO ROWS.
Sepang (Malaysia), 7 June 2014 – The first Sepang Superpole had an Aprilia flavour once the Italian bikes had demonstrated their potential in all the timed sessions. With a perfect lap Sylvain Guintoli put the best time on the boards and tomorrow, for the fourth time in his career, he will be starting in front of all the rest. Marco Melandri, feeling at ease on race tyres, was unable to be incisive with the soft tyre but in any case took a spot on the second row with the fifth best time.
The Aprilia branded day was completed by the second row spot taken by Toni Elias on his “satellite” RSV4.
Guintoli took to the track at the beginning of the session on a race tyre, stopping the clock at an impressive time of 2’03.581 and immediately taking a solid lead. After returning to the pits to put on a qualifier, Sylvain further improved his performance with 2’03.002 on the boards. The speed demonstrated in Superpole is in line with his performance in the practice sessions: three out of four times the French rider was the fastest on the track.
Sylvain Guintoli: “This has been an almost perfect weekend so far even if the results tomorrow are the ones that really count. I have trained well, preparing for the high heat, and I actually feel better on a race tyre than on a qualifier. I’m very happy with how well the RSV4 is performing here – we are really able to take full advantage of it. I’m having fun riding and the two races tomorrow will definitely be hard but I can’t wait to get on the track”.
Fast in all the sessions, Marco Melandri was also aiming for a spot on the front row, but a lack of feeling with the qualifier tyre and a few changes that didn’t have the desired effects kept him from being incisive in Superpole. Finishing with the fifth best time is definitely a positive result, although it is disappointing after everything demonstrated during the practice sessions. His pace makes him hopeful for the races tomorrow: “This was a difficult qualifier. We tried to keep improving stability and grip at the rear, but in the end I was struggling a lot with the front. On a qualifying tyre I wasn’t very efficient, but finishing in fifth makes me hopeful for tomorrow. We’ll need to improve a bit more and the races will be complicated both in terms of tyres and riders”.
Front row in sultry Sepang for van der Mark
Michael van der Mark will start tomorrow’s sixth-round World Supersport championship race from the front row of the grid after setting the third-fastest lap time in this afternoon’s qualifying session at Sepang in Malaysia.
The 21-year-old Pata Honda rider from Rotterdam in the Netherlands lapped the 5.548km circuit in a time of 2m08.961s – a little more than half a second off the pole position time of French rider Jules Cluzel.
However, having completed a race simulation in this morning’s third free practice session, series leader van der Mark has confidence in the race pace of his Pata Honda CBR600RR machine.
His Pata Honda team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti will start from the second row of the grid after a determined effort at the end of this afternoon’s hot qualifying session with track temperatures hovering around 60˚C.
With a margin of just 0.058s, the Italian rider, 26, nudged Malaysian wildcard rider Zaqhwan Zaidi off the second row on his final lap. However, it was an impressive qualifying performance from the 19-year-old, who will start from the head of the third row on a Honda CBR600RR prepared by the Ten Kate Racing Products team from Pata Honda’s base in the Netherlands.
Michael van der Mark - P3, 2m08.961s
Yes, I’m really happy now I’ve had a chance to cool down! Qualifying actually didn’t go exactly to plan because we had a little issue on the bike and I was not able to get out at the beginning of the session. But the guys solved the problem quickly and I had some tyres to try to do some fast laps. I did some, and I think I could have done better, but I got held up many times by other riders. This morning in free practice we showed that we had a really good race pace and I’m pretty confident that tomorrow we can aim for the podium.
Lorenzo Zanetti - P6, 2m09.494s
I am not too disappointed with the second row because normally I am not really fast in qualifying. The front two rows are important for tomorrow, but even more important is that we have found a good way and a good solution. Yesterday and this morning I was losing a lot of time on corner exit, but the team found a good setting and this is positive for tomorrow’s race and my rhythm, and I’m very happy about this. Sure in the last few minutes today some riders were a little crazy but maybe the heat affected them a little. But the second row is good for me because, after not finishing at Donington, when I was fighting for another win, I want to fight again tomorrow.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Third place for Michael is fine because his race pace is looking quite strong and I think he can be one of the podium candidates again. Lorenzo struggled a bit this morning and he was not so happy, so we made some changes for the afternoon. These gave him back a bit of confidence and he’s in good spirits and looking forward to tomorrow. I must also congratulate the Ten Kate Racing Products team and the wildcard rider, Zaqhwan Zaidi. He has shown good speed in the practice sessions and is in seventh place on the grid as the third highest Honda rider. To perform like that at world championship level is a really good achievement and we all wish him the best of luck for the race tomorrow.
BIMOTA ALSTARE READY TO RACE
Despite a crash by Ayrton Badovini in Superpole 1, Team Bimota Alstare are happy and looking forward to tomorrow’s pair of 16-lap races at the Sepang circuit. Both Ayrton and team mate Christian Iddon had comfortably qualified for this afternoon’s Superpole and were optimistic about their chances of advancing into Superpole 2. Both started Superpole 1 well and were in the top three until a crash, six minutes into the session, ruined Badovini’s prospects. Christian looked to be fairing better, but lost out on Superpole 2 by just two tenths of a second in the last frantic moments. He ended 5th in Superpole and will start from the fifth row of the grid, with Ayrton just behind him on row six.
Christian Iddon – 3rd EVO Class, 2:06.012
“We changed the set-up of the bike this morning and there was an immediate improvement and it was easier to ride and turn. For Free Practice 4, we worked on the traction control system. It is good that we’ve got it, but bad because we’ve only got it halfway through the season and now we have to try and understand it before we can progress. So, basically, we just need more time. But the potential is there for us to be able to go faster. We’re also working on improving the engine braking. We’re all happy that we are doing so well already, but we’re all itching for the next step … or two!
I am still learning about Qualifying tyres and I haven’t fully understood them and how much I can push them. I was happy to get through Superpole because before it, I felt pretty rough. On the first lap of Superpole, I threw up in my helmet, which wasn’t a particular good feeling. I thought I’d got rid of it, but I did notice what looked like a bit of cabbage in the next lap or so! Hopefully there’ll be no such problems tomorrow.”
Ayrton Badovini – 6th EVO Class, 2:06.808
“First of all, I’d like to say sorry to my team for the crash in Superpole 1 – and the extra work they will have to do now. I lost the front on a right-hander and down the bike went. I think that maybe it was a little mistake by me. We had changed the bike since the poor session yesterday and the bike felt a lot better. That meant that I could push harder … and that’s what I did. Unfortunately, I think I may have pushed a bit too hard and that’s why I crashed.
But before that, I was pretty happy with bike because I had a good feeling for it, which means that I am ready to race. At the moment, I do not think that we’ll change anything in tomorrow morning’s warm-up.”
Francis Batta (Team Manager)
“Seeing a rider crash is never good, and it’s always a bit worse when the rider is one of your own. Fortunately Ayrton was OK and probably a bit angry with himself. There was a small window in Superpole 1, when it looked like both Christian and Ayrton might get in to Superpole 2, but he crash ruined that for Ayrton. Christian also looked as if he would advance, but his chance faded as his qualifying tyre deteriorated. Nevertheless, we are making a lot of progress and, as long as we do that, we all know that progress will continue.”