2015 Sepang World Superbike Friday Post-Practice Press Releases

Press releases after the first day of practice at Sepang:

Biaggi remains quickest following afternoon downpour at Sepang

Davies fastest in drying Free Practice 2 and second overall ahead of Rea and Sykes.

Max Biaggi (ITA) set the fastest lap-time of the day in his third quick lap attempt

Two-time WorldSBK Champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) has topped the combined timesheets on the opening day of action at the Sepang International Circuit.

The 2’04.823 lap-time set in the early minutes of the morning’s Free Practice 1 allowed the Italian to not only lead the session itself, but also to remain on top in the afternoon, given the torrential rain that began falling around midday.

Double winner at Laguna Seca Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and the Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea completed the top-4, with the Welshman closing the gap to the top spot to 0.149s at the end of the first 45-minute session.

Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) were fifth and sixth, respectively while positions from seventh to tenth were taken by Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet and Pata Honda duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark.

A wet start to FP2 saw many WorldSBK riders electing to remain in the box, hoping that the heat would dry the 5.543km circuit in time for a fast lap at the end of the session. It was not until the final 13 minutes that a dry line appeared.

Leon Haslam entered the circuit with nine minutes to go, immediately moving into the top-3 of the afternoon session, while only Biaggi of the other front-runners from FP1 ventured onto the circuit.

In the damp conditions of the final stages it was eventually Davies who came out on top with a time of 2’11.300, ahead of fellow Brit Alex Lowes.

WorldSBK Sepang - Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2

1 - Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing Team 2'04.823
2 - Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team +0.149
3 - Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +0.559

Solid opening day for Pata Honda in Sepang

Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark finished today’s opening two free practice sessions in ninth and tenth places respectively on combined times as they prepare for Sunday’s tenth round World Superbike championship races at Sepang in Malaysia.

With mixed weather conditions covering the two sessions, overall times were based on this morning’s dry free practice, which was headed by Italian Max Biaggi, with both Pata Honda riders just 0.6s from a provisional front row position. After a heavy rain shower during the lunch break, the 45-minute afternoon session started with the circuit still damp.

Because further rain is forecast over the weekend, Guintoli went out early in the session to get a feel for the wet settings on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. Like many other riders, team-mate van der Mark opted to remain in the pitbox until the track began to dry late In the session.

Van der Mark ended the session fifth fastest, with Guintoli, having sat out the final 15 minutes as the 5.543km circuit began to dry, in eighth place. Free Practice 3 in the morning will determine which riders progress directly to Superpole 2 tomorrow afternoon where grid positions for Sunday’s two races will be finalised.

Sylvain Guintoli - P9, 2m05.961s

This afternoon’s session was wet at the start with mixed conditions so we just went out to sample the track and get some data in case Superpole or the races are wet. The CBR felt good and in the dry session this morning we kept the same tyres throughout, trying to work on race pace. We know that with the heat and the track layout that the race rhythm can drop quite a bit so we’re trying to get as much data as possible to get ready for the race. The most important thing this morning was to be top ten for Superpole 2 in case it rained this afternoon, and it might rain tomorrow as well. So, we’ve done that job and we’re only about four or five tenths from the front group.

Michael van der Mark - P10, 2m05.986s

This morning I had to get used to my usual CBR after the Suzuka 8 Hours last weekend, but after a couple of laps I felt pretty comfortable again and found some good progress. I stayed out quite a long time because I knew I needed those laps and afterwards we tried a couple of adjustments on the bike. I improved my time and we had planned a couple more small changes with suspension and electronics for the afternoon. It wasn’t wet enough for a full wet setting and it wasn’t dry enough to try the changes so we couldn’t do very much. At the end of the day I’m quite happy, and the gap to the front guys is not as big as it has been recently.

Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator

The morning session was looking quite OK and both riders were closer to the front than they have been lately and there were no big issues with the bike. This afternoon we were presented with a damp but drying track and Sylvain went out immediately, setting the fastest pace. Michael did the opposite and waited until the track was drier and he was quite quick in those drying conditions so, all in all, it has not been a bad day.

Day 1 at Sepang brings positive results for Davies and the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team

Sepang (Malaysia), Friday 31 July 2015 – The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team and rider Chaz Davies, on track for the first sessions at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, concluded day one of this tenth round of the 2015 World Superbikes in second position.

Fairly warm and sunny conditions for the first timed practice session with a track temperature of 35°C. Davies was lapping well right from the start, recording times that immediately positioned him at the top of the timesheets. His best lap, completed in 2’04.972 saw him conclude this opening session in second place.

In the subsequent session a wet track, due to heavy rain prior to the practice, prevented all SBK riders from improving on their lap times. Having spent most of the session in the garage, Davies made an exit in the final phase, setting the fastest lap of this semi-dry session.

Davies thus closed this first day of action in second position overall. Tomorrow he will return to the track for the final timed practice and the all-important Superpole.

Quotes after the day’s sessions:

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 2nd (2’04.972)

“This morning’s practice went very well for an opening session. We tried to understand the new tyre options that Pirelli has brought to this event. My ‘ideal time’ is already as fast as I went on a qualifier last year and this is already a boost. We’re continuing to work on the rear end of the bike in terms of grip and stability as I think this will be key tomorrow and Sunday. Track conditions are fairly good, obviously this afternoon was different with patchy conditions after the rain that fell prior to the session, but it’s always useful to go out anyway, in case conditions are similar come race day…”

Seventh and eighth for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki at rain hit Sepang

Heavy storms hit the Sepang International Circuit today as round ten of the FIM Superbike World Championship got underway with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet claiming seventh and eighth in the free practice times.

A steady start to the weekend saw Lowes conclude the morning practice comfortably inside the top-ten – his 2’05.806 best set on 15-lap old tyres and already improving on his last year’s race pace. Pleased with his opening 45-minutes, the British racer aimed to focus his attention on fine-tuning his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R’s chassis balance, gearing and engine brake for the afternoon session, before a lingering midday deluge interrupted plans.

Waiting as the Malaysian track dried out, Lowes left the box with just five minutes remaining of the second free practice. Confident enough with the GSX-R’s rear feeling to set the second fastest time of the afternoon with a 2’12.5 on wet rubber, before a practice start on his way back to pitlane.

A similarly strong start saw Randy de Puniet’s time of 2’05.920 place him adjacent to his teammate in eighth for the opening session. The afternoon plan – to concentrate on rear grip for the expected increasing temperatures and testing the new Pirelli option front tyre with his Suzuki GSX-R1000 – put on hold as the waterlogged track took the majority of the final practice to dry out. However, the Frenchman remains confident with the progression for the remainder of the weekend.

The morning began with ambient temperatures already at 29°C (track 35°C) before the storms set in for the afternoon. Aprilia rider Max Biaggi returned to WSBK action setting the fastest time of the day – the quickest permanent rider just 0.149 seconds shy of his 2’04.823 best.

The first of two free practice sessions sees Lowes and de Puniet return to the Sepang circuit at 09:45hrs local time (02:45BST) tomorrow, with the Superpole qualifier on track at 15:00 (08:00BST).

Alex Lowes:

“It was nice to get back on my normal bike today. It was a shame about the weather this afternoon because I really felt like I was getting into it this morning, after riding with a different bike and different tyres, but hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more consistent and we can do some laps. I really need some more dry laps as I don’t know the track too well, but I enjoy it a lot. It’s very different to any of the British circuits and I find it quite fun, so it will be nice to get some dry time tomorrow and see if we can do a decent job. The main aim now is to understand the tyres for the race – last year after four or five laps the tyres felt fine but after eight you can lose two seconds quite easily – so we need to make sure the tyre feeling, especially on the front, stays good for the race, enjoy riding and look forward to a good battle on Sunday.”

Randy de Puniet:

“It was a good day as we started well, like at Laguna Seca. This is the second weekend in a row, at two different tracks, where we are on the pace directly so I’m happy and confident for the rest of the weekend. We didn’t try out too many settings changes this morning as we were planning to work on set-up and tyres this afternoon, but unfortunately the weather was bad so this will have to wait until tomorrow morning. I’m in a good rhythm, I feel good with the GSX-R and I like the track so I’m confident for tomorrow and the races on Sunday, we will just have to see what the weather has in store!”

Sepang (Malaysia), 31 July 2015

As is typical at the Malaysian track of Sepang, ever-changing weather conditions can always affect results. It’s not unusual to face a first qualifying session on a dry track and then a second session rendered almost impossible due to rain – and this was precisely the situation that the Althea Racing team had to deal with today, on track for round 10 of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship.

Another new track for Matteo Baiocco who must work quickly to unlock the secrets of the Asian track and try to find the right feeling with the track and bike in order to improve on his lap times with the right set-up. The morning’s session served to build confidence with the track, and Matteo concluded in fifteenth position. Unfortunately heavy rain prior to the second session prevented the Italian from continuing the work begun in the morning and he was unable to complete further kilometres in dry conditions as he would have liked. He nevertheless made some laps in both wet and damp conditions in the final stages of the session to check the grip of the rain tyre in full wet and semi-wet conditions.

In session one, Niccolò Canepa concentrated on trying different set-up solutions for his

Ducati Panigale R to try to resolve a few small problems identified in the opening laps. The rain prevented him from testing the changes made and so work is postponed until tomorrow, with the team hoping for favourable conditions. Niccolò also made a couple of laps in FP2 but considering the damp conditions he chose to return to the pit garage. He closed the day in thirteenth position.

Matteo Baiocco: “I’m disappointed that the afternoon session was ruined by rain, because I needed dry track time at what is a new circuit for me. I like the track and the first approach has been positive, but I of course need to complete more kilometres if I am to improve on times. I’m hoping for good weather tomorrow.”

Niccolò Canepa: “All in all today has been fairly positive despite the rain, because this morning we made various changes to my Ducati to solve a few stability issues and we find a good solution. Unfortunately we were unable to test this in the afternoon due to the bad weather. So our work is postponed until tomorrow but we are confident in that I know the track, I like it, and the solutions found today will help me improve on my lap times.”



Sepang (Malaysia), 31 July 2015 – The first two practice sessions at Sepang leading up to the Malaysian World SBK races on Sunday were very positive for Max Biaggi. The Roman rider who is in his second wild card of the season and riding a SBK for the first time on the fast Malaysian track, finished the day with the best time (2’04,823) repeating his performance at Misano. In fact, like his first wild card – almost three years after his retirement from racing as World Champion – the six-time world champion led the morning sessions. The usual abundant tropical rain that fell between FP1 and FP2 made the times go up in the second session. Haslam and Torres, the two official Aprilia Racing - Red Devils riders, finished the day respectively in fifth and sixth place with 2’05,533 and 2’05,623. These are two good placements, well within 1 second of the leader. Both worked hard focusing on settings in view of the races.

Max Biaggi: “A bitter - sweet Friday. Sweet because the first session went rather well but I would have liked to have a dry second session to compete with the best. In the wet we only took three laps just to try out a configuration, but tomorrow we'll have to fine tune a few details like the gearbox ratio and the suspension since we're still working on weight distribution. It will be especially important to have the track in the same conditions and put in two consistent sessions in order to avoid misjudging the situation.”

Leon Haslam: “This morning in the first session we worked well and I was satisfied. I knew what I needed to do to improve in the second session which unfortunately turned out to be wet. We started the session on rain tyres so we'd be ready in the event of rain. Toward the end the track was drying off but we only got a few laps in because there was no point taking any risks. All told I'm pleased because we aren't far from the leaders and we knew that Max would be fast. Tomorrow it will be important to work well and improve so we can be competitive in Superpole.”

Jordi Torres: “This morning went well even though we still need to dial in the bike a bit and I need to improve, especially braking and going into turns fast. We still have some work to do and it's a shame we weren't able to take advantage of the afternoon. On the wet track I was only able to take a few laps but just to get an idea of the conditions. Toward the end the track was drying out but it was still dangerous and above all we couldn't lap fast consistently. Tomorrow we'll have to work hard to make up for the lost session but we know which direction to go to improve the bike.”

Friday's Words & Pictures


Max Biaggi (ITA)

Chaz Davies (GBR)

Jonathan Rea (GBR)

Max Biaggi #3 - Aprilia Racing Team

Combined Free Practice 1 and 2 1st

Twitter: @maxbiaggi

“That’s what happens here in this part of the world in August. Lot of rain and within a couple minutes everything is wet and that’s what happened in FP2. I made just one or two laps to check the wet setting as it’s been a while since I rode in the wet. It was good information inc ase we need to go out with a wet setting on Sunday. Looks like the days testing I had was good but the conditions today were not the same, it’s not the heat but the humidity that changes the grip on the track so we must look to see what we can improve here.”

Chaz Davies #7 - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati SBK Team

Combined Free Practice 1 and 2 2nd

Twitter: @chazdavies

Instagram: @chazdavies7

Facebook: chazdavies7

“This morning’s practice went very well for an opening session. We tried to understand the new tyre options that Pirelli has brought to this event. My ‘ideal time’ is already as fast as I went on a qualifier last year and this is already a boost. We’re continuing to work on the rear end of the bike in terms of grip and stability as I think this will be key tomorrow and Sunday. Track conditions are fairly good, obviously this afternoon was different with patchy conditions after the rain that fell prior to the session, but it’s always useful to go out anyway, in case conditions are similar come race day…”

Jonathan Rea #65 - Kawasaki Racing Team

Combined Free Practice 1 and 2 3rd

Twitter: @jonathanrea

Instagram: @jonathan_rea

Facebook: JonathanReaOfficial

“We had some problems with the bike this morning which meant I was in the box for 20 minutes and we couldn’t make any changes to the electronics but nevertheless we made a good time at the end of FP1. We have some things to try in the morning so I hope that it isn’t wet.Tom has been strong of late so in terms of the championship it will be tough to wrap it up here. We will work hard ahead of Superpole and try some things in both sessions tomorrow before qualifying to be in the best position for the races.”

Opening day honours go to Zanetti as rain arrives for FP2

The World Supersport championship resumes this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia with Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) topping the opening day thanks to an FP1 lap time of 2'09.235. The Italian was just ahead of his team mate and title contender Jules Cluzel, who heads into tomorrow second overall. The Frenchman only managed three laps this morning before a technical problem.

Third was American PJ Jacobsen (CORE Motorsport Thailand), who edged Pata Honda’s Kyle Smith, championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Roberto Rolfo (Lorini Honda) as the 19 riders familiarised themselves with the 5.543km circuit.

Free Practice 2 was wet following a downpour before the session, meaning the overall times were unaffected. Nevertheless it’s worth casting a glance at the times in FP2 as the forecast for the next two days is similar, and with the race on Sunday due to start at a similar time as this afternoon’s session the results could be telling.

With nine minutes to go, the sun came out and the rain stopped which saw the circuit drying quickly although it was still very much damp by the time the chequered flag was waved.

At the end of the 45 minutes it was PJ Jacobsen ahead by 1.6s, his-wet weather time of 2'23.544 keeping him well ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who recovered from an off-track moment to finish second ahead of Kyle Smith, Jules Cluzel, Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) and Martin Cardenas (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda). In the damp Zanetti could only manage ninth place.

A notable absentee from the second session was Roberto Rolfo (Team Lorini Honda), who remained in his box throughout as did his team mate Marcos Ramirez.

World Supersport Sepang - Combined times Free Practice 1 and 2

1 - Lorenzo Zanetti MV Agusta Reparto Corse 2'09.235
2 - Jules Cluzel MV Agusta Reparto Corse +0.103
3 - PJ Jacobsen CORE'' Motorsport Thailand +0.475

Smith in good form on Sepang debut

Kyle Smith set the fourth fastest time on his Pata Honda CBR600RR in this morning's opening free practice session for Sunday’s ninth-round World Supersport race at Sepang in Malaysia. Provisional pole position was taken by Italian rider Lorenzo Zanetti as the World Supersport series returned to action following a six-week break.

After a heavy rain shower during the lunch interval, the 5.543km Sepang circuit was fully wet for the start of this afternoon’s second free practice session when Smith, 23, went third quickest.

Smith has not ridden at Sepang before and, as well as familiarizing himself with the demanding circuit, the British rider also had to become reacquainted with his CBR600RR, having ridden a larger 1000cc CBR at last weekend’s Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan where his FCC TSR Honda team finished second.

Kyle Smith - P4, 2m09.993s

I’m really enjoying the track here and this morning, when it was completely dry, I ended up P4, so I was quite happy with that. It was completely wet this afternoon and I went P3, having been fastest with about 10 minutes to go. I wasn’t riding then because the track was starting to dry out and the conditions weren’t perfect, so I just sat it out but a couple of guys went faster. It’s OK though because I really enjoy riding in the wet! We’ll work a little more on the dry settings, but otherwise it’s all good. The CBR felt pretty good even though it’s a new track for me and I wasn’t really up to speed but it’s not bad for the first day.

Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator

Kyle has never been here but he spent some time on a scooter yesterday getting a feel for it. The first session was dry and he went P4 which was a really good start. He’s spent a long time off the bike since Misano and, even in the wet this afternoon, he went very well. It dried up at the end but he was quite confident and comfortable in the wet and he had a good, positive opening day here.

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