2016 Phillip Island World Superbike Friday Post-Practice Press Releases

Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:

WorldSBK: Yamaha are BACK!

Guintoli leads the charge to Tissot-Superpole as YZF R1 tops Day 1

Friday times now decide direct entry to the Tissot-Superpole session, and the man who leads the way after a day of track time is 2014 WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli. The only man to set a lap within a 1’30 bracket all day and consequently the fastest on Friday, the Frenchman kept his YZF R1 almost 4 tenths clear of next man on the timesheets, Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark.

With much of the afternoon dedicated to longer runs, the expected dash for the line in the last stage of the session saw a lot of track action. Reigning Champion Jonathan Rea did a long and consistent run as he dueled with Michael Van Der Mark for the top spot in both long run and one lap pace, before Guintoli dropped his time significantly with a lap that proved unbeatable by the end of the session. The rhythm of the reigning Champion, however, looks set to be difficult to beat. Van Der Mark, who lead laps last year in Phillip Island, also looked impressive over a longer run.

Top Australian Josh Brookes had a difficult first day at his home round but did outpace his teammate, looking to improve upon his lap time after before the lights go out for the new era of WorldSBK.

Michael Van Der Mark (NED) and Josh Brookes (AUS) on day 1 down under

The top ten times were very competitive, with Sykes, Hayden, Giugliano and Davies all looking solid around the Australian track and Sykes fastest in the morning session. Lorenzo Savadori put in a great lap to join them in the top ten, and the fastest BMW from the morning, Markus Reiterberger, maintained his title as just that. By virtue of the combined timesheet, the German pips Alex Lowes to a final entry into Tissot-Superpole 2.

Leon Camier remained the fastest Italian motorbike on track on his MV Agusta, with his pace of the morning proving no fluke, the Italian marque the seventh different manufacturer to find a place in the top ten in a field poised to deliver incredible racing over the season ahead.

Honda WorldSBK riders on the pace on opening day at Phillip Island

The first day of action for the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close at Phillip Island, with both Honda WorldSBK riders – Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden – able to qualify directly to tomorrow’s Superpole 2 after two close-fought, one-hour free practice sessions at Phillip Island in Australia.

Despite the overcast skies and some light rain at times during both sessions, the riders were able to put in a good amount of work over the course of the day. They also managed to improve the lap-times set during the two-day test earlier this wee,k while looking for the best set up for tomorrow’s Superpole and race one.

Michael van der Mark completed a total of 55 laps around the 4,455m Australian circuit and went a long run in each of the sessions, with an encouraging race simulation put together in the afternoon. The 23-year-old from Rotterdam spent almost half of the second free practice session on top of the timesheets, eventually finishing the day in second place with a personal best of 1’31.249s.

Nicky Hayden continued to work hard with the team to improve the feeling with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP here at Phillip Island and was able to make significant steps forward in terms of pure performance on the single lap. During the afternoon session, the 34-year-old American made a breakthrough in terms of overall set up with the bike as he elevated himself to provisional fifth courtesy of a 1’31.475s lap time, before losing one place in the closing stages.

With a new format being introduced for the 2016 edition of the series, the Australian round Superpole 2 will begin at 12:55 local time, followed by the first race of the season at 15:00.

Michael van der Mark 60
2nd / 1'31.249

We started very well this morning and I was able to get up to speed quite quickly. I decided not to go for a lap time in the end, as we were already pretty safe. This afternoon we tried a different tyre, I went out and we did a long run, which wasn’t planned but it turned out to be a really good one. After that we opted for a different compound but I wasn’t able to get the same feeling out of it. In the end I’m very happy with second place, we have qualified directly to Superpole 2 and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

- Honda WorldSBK

Nicky Hayden 69
6th / 1'31.475

Day one of my new beginning is over and it wasn’t too bad. Of course, I always would like to be faster and I would have loved to be more consistent in the afternoon, but I was able to go a bit quicker than during the test. I just need to get comfortable with how the bike moves around in changing direction and on corner exit, but I think it’s just my feeling because, after looking at the data, the team says that it isn’t moving much. I think I need to be gentler while changing direction in order not to upset it too much. I’m glad we made it to Superpole 2 and we’ll work on something tomorrow morning.

- Honda WorldSBK

Pieter Breddels
Technical Manager

Today we faced the new Friday schedule for the first time and I think we did a very good job. Michael has been consistently fast all day long and, unlike many other riders, he decided to go for a long run in the morning. He didn’t change tyres and obviously didn’t go for the quick lap. In the afternoon, we used a new set of tyres and he did a very good long run on it, while moving up to first place in the process. We tried some other tyre combination afterwards but the feeling was not the same. Overall I think we are ready to race with him. On the other side of the garage, Nicky also did well. He was sixth at the end but definitely very close to the riders ahead of him. We have a little bit of more work to do with him in trying to make him a little bit more comfortable with the front, especially in the fast corners. Other than that it wasn’t a bad result at all and we still have some time tomorrow to do some more work on the bike.

- Honda WorldSBK

The first day of the new WSBK season for the Althea BMW Racing Team.

Phillip Island (Australia) Friday 26 February 2016

The 2016 Superbike World Championship and its new formula officially got underway today, with Superpole and Race 1 planned for Saturday, Race 2 on Sunday and two timed practice sessions (each an hour) on Friday, with times establishing entry to the Superpole.

Riders Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger, both suffering aches and pains after their respective crashes during Tuesday’s test, lowered their visors and headed out on track today, where the wind during this sunny day also brought clouds and rain showers.

In the first session, 21-year old German Markus Reiterberger completed 20 laps, setting the seventh fastest time (1’31.792), only 0.249 of a second from the leader.

Spaniard Jordi Torres was unfortunately only able to complete 12 laps due to his less than perfect physical condition and a small technical problem, which took time to resolve. With only a few minutes left, Jordi was nevertheless able to complete some laps but the track was slow due to strong wind and he therefore closing 0.840 of a second from the front.

The afternoon session opened with light rain, causing riders to delay their exits. Although Reiterberger was unable to improve on his best time of the morning, the German nevertheless concluded positively, in tenth place, qualifying directly for Superpole 2. Torres managed to lower his earlier time, finishing the session in fourteenth position.

The Althea BMW Racing Team will be ready with their BMW S 1000 RR bikes at 10.20am local time tomorrow, for the 15-minute free practice which will be followed later in the day by the two Superpoles and then Race 1 (at 3pm local time).

“After completing some laps this morning, the gap from the leaders was very small. I wanted to improve with a long-run this afternoon but I did not manage to do so. In the end, even though I lost a position, I’m very pleased with the result but I want to further improve my riding sensations with the bike so that I can feel totally at ease."

“This morning I definitely wasn’t in the best physical shape and a small technical problem prevented me from lapping as I’d wanted, in fact I was only able to a few laps, while in the afternoon I couldn’t keep the bike stable. I’m still not feeling comfortable on the bike and I’m a bit disappointed because this afternoon I was able to regain that confidence that was missing somewhat this morning.”

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team works on race pace in Phillip Island

After having focused on confirming the 2016 Panigale R base setup in the two-day test earlier this week, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took to the track once again in Phillip Island for the first official practice sessions of the season. Given the new format – which splits the races between Saturday and Sunday (both at 3 p.m. local time, 5 a.m. CET) – the team prioritized consistency over the race distance, working at length with used tyres to evaluate their performance on a historically demanding track.

Davide Giugliano finished in seventh position in the combined time sheets (+0.662 behind Sylvain Guintoli, who set the provisional best lap with a 1:30.865), taking three tenths of a second off his personal best in between sessions, and trying the new rear-tyre options brought by Pirelli specifically for this track.

Chaz Davies made two prolonged runs in the morning session, showing a pace in the high 1:31 mark, but suffered some grip issues during FP2, where he still managed to improve by two tenths. The Welshman finished in eighth position (+0.728), right behind his teammate. Both riders qualified directly for Superpole 2.

Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #34) – 1:31.527 (7th)

“Overall, it’s been an undoubtedly positive day. We worked a bit more on performance during the tests, and we’re now focusing on consistency to make the difference during the race. We prioritized pace, with some really good results. We still miss a bit of overall quickness, just two or three tenths to stay within the top three, but I’m confident I’ll find them together with my team. I’ve made a couple of good runs with different tyres, so the choice will just depend on the weather. I’m also curious about racing with the new schedule, which seems good to me.”

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:31.593 (8th)

“In the morning I was quite satisfied with my performance, but in the afternoon we ran into some issues and, when we understood how to fix them, it was too late to work on the bike. It’s a bit unfortunate, because with the new format we have about half an hour less of track time on Saturday. Anyways, we’ll make some bigger changes tomorrow to find more grip. The pace at the top has been progressively faster and, while I’m confident about my speed over the race distance, we need to improve our performance on fresh tyres."

Free Practice report – 2016 World Superbikes Australian Round

Phillip Island, Friday February 26th

Josh Brookes:
FP1 – 1’33.354  - 20 laps
FP2 – 1’32.704  - 23 laps

“Today has been quite frustrating, because we’re doing the same lap time as I did on Monday in testing, but we’ve got some big changes to make so that the bike feels more natural to me. Every time I go out we’re gathering more ideas and data on understanding the bike.

At the moment that’s all we can do, and we need to use that to make some forward progress. It’s easy to get down and annoyed about this situation, but that’s just how bikes are sometimes, and they don’t always react how you want them to.

Everyone in the garage is really smart and there’s a lot of experience, so we just need to rely on what we know and we can start making some positive steps in a logical direction.”

Karel Abraham:
FP1 – 1’34.277 - 12 laps 
FP2 – 1’33.491 - 24 laps

“We only got a few laps done at the start of FP1 as I had some problems with the set-up. Unfortunately the guys were working on it for most of the session, so we only got a few laps in at the end where I tried a different system, but I still struggled a little.

In FP2 I was getting better every lap, but I ran wide a couple of times when I was pushing hard. We found some small problems with the suspension, but we can work on them and improve.

It’s a little bit frustrating because winter testing was so cold and here is so hot, which has made setting up the bike difficult. But I still think we can get into the pace soon, and we will do our best to improve as much as we can for tomorrow’s qualifying and race.”

Mick Shanley, Team Coordinator:

“We had a few problems in the morning for both sides of the garage, so we lost some track time for Josh and Karel. In the afternoon we managed to identify the issues, but we’re not as far forward with both bikes as I’d like to be.

Coming off the back of a difficult test here we've still got a lot of work to do to be competitive, but we are working very hard to solve the issues as quickly as possible.

It’s only our first day in World Superbikes though, so hopefully we can make the changes we need now for tomorrow and get ready for Superpole.”

Guintoli Takes Provisional Pole for Pata Yamaha Debut

Free practice

Sylvain Guintoli's return to the Yamaha Racing family began in fine form at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, in Australia, this afternoon. The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team launched their 2016 campaign with the Frenchman claiming provisional pole position in the opening day of MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship action while teammate Alex Lowes completed Friday practice in 11th.

Sunshine and light showers provided mixed conditions for both hour-long free practice sessions but, seeming to master the inclement weather with ease, Guintoli confidently guided his WorldSBK-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 around the 4,445m layout. Concluding the morning sitting second with a fastest lap of 1'31.640, the Frenchman's times continued to improve with the afternoon weather. Retaining a podium-worthy position for the majority of the final 60 minutes, he initially circulated in third before advancing to head the times as the only rider to break the 1'31 barrier - setting a 1'30.865 with 15 minutes remaining. WorldSBK's new schedule sees Friday's second practice times cement the 20 fastest riders' automatic qualification into Saturday's two Superpole sessions, with Guintoli holding the all-important provisional pole.

With less than a second separating the top 11 riders, Alex Lowes concluded his inaugural day on his YZF-R1 with a best lap of 1'31.825 but with the new schedule now in operation he will have to compete in the opening Superpole 1 to fight for his promotion to the top-12 shootout. Continuing to fine-tune his riding style with his new Yamaha machine, the British racer has a number of settings changes - including his own positioning on the bike - for his crew to adjust overnight. Saturday brings a shortened free practice - with timings not admissible for qualifying - before Superpole and the opening race of the 2016 season at 15:00hrs local time, but Lowes is confident his team's hard work will be repaid for the 22-lap contest around one of his favourite tracks.

Sylvain Guintoli Sylvain Guintoli

"I wasn't expecting to be at the top of the times today but I'll definitely take that! We have such a good base with the YZF-R1 even at the start of this project, especially the chassis and engine character, so it's nice to know we can work up from here. We have spent a lot of the winter evaluating and assessing, and expected to be continuing this for the opening round at Phillip Island. This is my favourite track on the calendar so hopefully we can continue to improve as the weekend progresses and enjoy a good couple of races with the new split two-day schedule starting tomorrow."

Alex Lowes Alex Lowes

"I'm still finding my perfect set-up with the YZF-R1 so I wasn't 100% comfortable out there today but the times are, as always, so close between the top riders. We have a few things we are working on overnight with the lads, and I love this circuit so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Historically I've done well in practice here but it hasn't translated to the race so hopefully this year a careful dress rehearsal will give me a better race day when it matters!"

Paul Denning Paul Denning – Team Principal

"Nobody in the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team expected to be at the top of the timesheets in Yamaha's first day back in World Superbike competition, but to achieve it is a great reward for everyone who has been working so hard on the project and it clearly demonstrates the massive potential of the YZF-R1.

"Phillip Island is Sylvain's favourite track and the combination of his ability and experience, and the way in which he has adapted to the Yamaha, has resulted in a more competitive package at this point of the season than we expected. Congratulations to Sylvain and to his crew for a very solid day's work, and whilst we have no fixed expectation in terms of what we can achieve on race day, we couldn't have had a better start!

"Alex is less than a second from Sylvain's best time but unfortunately that is 11th place, and there is work to do to find both the best settings for the YZF-R1 and for Alex to understand how to get the best out of the Yamaha here. Phillip Island is a very different race track to those we have used over the winter tests. We will work hard tonight, try to help him understand how to take the next steps forward, and look forward to Yamaha's first race in WorldSBK since 2011, tomorrow!"

WorldSSP: Two Tenths and One Thousandth

Margin between Sofuoglu and Cluzel remains, Krummenacher closes in

Reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu retained his grip on at the top of the timesheets after the second WorldSSP session practice of the day, despite not setting a time in the afternoon, as rival Jules Cluzel took a tumble at T11. The Frenchman walked away from the gravel trap before being taken to the circuit Medical Center for a medical check.

Jules Cluzel (FRA) and PJ Jacobsen (USA) on Friday on the Island

Swiss Puccetti rider and Sofuoglu’s teammate Randy Krummenacher was quickest in the afternoon, registering a best time of only one thousandth of a second slower than Frenchman Cluzel, reinforcing his quickly earnt reputation as a WorldSSP force to be reckoned with.

PJ Jacobsen, a key protagonist of the 2015 season, improved his time in the afternoon session before suffering a crash in the final few minutes from which he escaped unhurt. Taking the sixth fastest time on the combined sheets, in FP2 the American was the third quickest behind Italian Lorenzo Zanetti. Gino Rea showed the biggest leap in FP2, ending the session fourth, ahead of fastest local and wildcard Australian Anthony West; the Grand Prix winner ending the afternoon session sixth.

Phillip Island GRT Racing Team

Phillip Island 26/02/2016

During the morning session it was necessary for the riders to check the bikes and the track conditions. In Free Practice 1, Gino Rea’s best time was a 1’36,237 followed closely by Aiden Wagner with a time of 1’36,454. The track conditions had changed in Free Practice 2 whereby the windy conditions appeared to affect riders times.

In Free Practice 2, Rea was able to find a really good setup with the motorcycle and we setting faster an faster times achieving a best time of 1’34,616 which was only 0,738 seconds from first place. Aiden Wagner suffered a fall in turn ten at the point where his lap times were improving. This precluded Aiden from continuing in FP2 and thus finished 21st over the two sessions.

Rea: “We finished the day on a positive note, ending up 4th in FP2. Unfortunately we had a technical issue in FP1 which prevented us getting a fast lap in during the better track conditions, so it has left us 11th overall on combined times. It means i’ll go into Superpole 1 tomorrow but it’s actually good for us because we need the extra track time that we lost this morning. The Team are working great, we learning about the bike all the time so i’m looking forward to making more progress tomorrow”.

Wagner: “I’m disappointed to have finished 21st overall but we feel we have identified the issue in the set up and I am now looking forward to getting back out on the motorcycle tomorrow. With the changes the Team are making, I hope to set a competitive time in Superpole 1 and possibly achieve a time that may be good enough also for Superpole 2.”

The GRT Technical Director, Mirko Giansanti: “I feel after the two sessions that the riders confidence has improved. Gino’s result was very motivating and would suggest a good weekend ahead for the Team. We are convinced that Aiden’s fall impeded his progress but with the setup changes being made by the Team will enable Aiden to put in a strong performance in tomorrow’s Superpole sessions”.

Jacobsen gets closer to the front after day one at Phillip Island

PJ Jacobsen and the Honda WorldSSP team have ended the first day of action for the 2016 FIM Supersport World Championship in sixth place and will therefore take part into tomorrow’s new Superpole directly from the second and final session.

The young American rider and his crew made great progress with the set up of the Honda CBR600RR #2 between the morning and the afternoon sessions as lap-times continued to improve. Last year’s WorldSSP champion made up several places, eventually settling for sixth following a small crash at turn six, which thankfully left him uninjured.

The team will now analyse the data in order to be ready for the first Superpole of World Supersport history, taking place tomorrow at 13:30 local time, which will be preceded by a 15-minute free practice session at 10:50.

Patrick Jacobsen 99

6th / 1'34.256

Today was OK. The first session was a little bit difficult but we spent most of the time working on the new suspensions and trying to find a good overall set up that could allow us to push a bit more. In the afternoon it got a lot hotter and we were able to perform well, but then we had a small crash for reasons beyond our control. Overall we were able to improve a lot between the two sessions and I’m confident we will be able to make further progress tomorrow.

- Honda WorldSSP

Pieter Breddels

Technical Manager

It was not a bad day. We learned a lot from making quite a few changes to the settings as the ones found during testing were not working anymore. Eventually we found a way to be competitive again and during the afternoon session, PJ’s lap-times were consistently improving and his pace was quite good. Unfortunately, towards the end he had another small crash but the good news is that he’s perfectly fine. We need to take a look at the data and see what happened, for sure it was something in plan especially at a stage where we were building some good confidence. I’m sure this won’t set us back too much and we are already looking forward to the next day of action.

- Honda WorldSSP

Superpole 2 for Smith in Phillip Island

Fri, 26 Feb 2016

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Kyle Smith's combined times from free practice 1 and free practice 2 today earned him automatic entry into the World Supersport Championship Superpole 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Kyle said: “It's not been the easiest of day's riding but I'm happy to be in the top 10. The lap times were not coming with too much ease but we've improved another big step compared to the test at the beginning of the week, so we are heading in the right direction. If we carry on with this progress tomorrow it should be a good race on Sunday.”

After free practice 2 in the afternoon which saw few riders improve on their times of the morning session, Luke remains 16th fastest and Hikari improved by 2/10 of a second for 20th position. Stefan was 4/10 of a second quicker in the second session ending the day 26th.

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “After FP1 and FP2 the new regulations have produced a really close grid. Kyle posted a time of 1m 34.5 to qualify 9th inside Superpole 2, giving us a realistic chance to qualify at the front of the grid. We tried a harder front tyre which unsettled things a little, but overall we are progressing well.

Luke didn't go faster in the afternoon, it just goes to show how hard the World Supersport Championship is but there is more to come. He is learning the bike, gelling with the team and we are looking at him being in the top 2 of SP1 to qualify him for SP2.

We changed direction a little with Hikari and he improved his lap time at the end for 20th position; again we are looking at him qualifying for SP2.

Stefan had a crash in the morning that dented his confidence a little, but he was faster in the afternoon. We are looking for the highest grid position possible and a top 20 finish for Stefan to build his confidence for Thailand.”

There is an untimed free practice on Saturday 27th February at 10:50hrs local time followed by Superpole 1 and Superpole 2 at 13:30hrs and 13:55hrs respectively.

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