World Superbike Donington Superpole

June 27, 2009
Chris McNeil

Yamaha’s World Superbike superstar Ben Spies put down a pole grabbing lap in the third session of Superpole as rain began to fall on the Donington Park circuit. 

Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) was back with pole-setting speed on a mixed-weather Saturday at Donington Park, being the only rider in the World Superbike paddock to breach the 1’30 mark with a time of 1’29.849 in the final Superpole session, over a second faster than Championship leader Noriyuki Haga. Aprilia’s Max Biaggi put in the second fastest lap at 1’30.08. Five-tenths back with the third quickest time was home-race favorite Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati), followed by Biaggi’s teammate Shinya Nakano to put two Aprilia RSV4s on the front row.

Starting the second row will be the two championship-contending Ducati Xerox riders, with Michel Fabrizio besting Haga by three-tenths to be the last rider under 1’31. The Italian also set a new Donington Superbike best lap during the second Superpole session with a time of 1’29.664. Carlos Checa will be leading the Honda riders out of the grid in seventh after almost not qualifying for Superpole after taking 20th. Jakub Smrz took eighth to put another privateer Ducati in the front two rows.

The third row marks the start of the riders who did not qualify for the final session of Superpole and is dominated by a  UK natives, with ninth-placed Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda) and tenth-placed Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike) being joined by Jonathan Rea in 12th. American John Hopkins made a surprisingly strong showing in 11th as he returns to racing after sitting out the last few rounds to rest his injured hip.

This is the Texan’s eighth Superpole in the 2009 World Superbike season.

World Superbike – Donington Park, Superpole Results
1. Ben Spies (Yamaha YZF-R1) – 1’29.846
2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4) – 1’30.080
3. Shane Byrne (Ducati 1098R) – 1’30.535
4. Shinya Nakano (Aprilia RSV4) – 1’30.671
5. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati 1098R) – 1’30.734
6. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati 1098R) – 1’31.023
7. Carlos Checa (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’31.342
8. Jakub Smrz (Ducati 1098R) – 1’34.797
9. Leon Haslam (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’30.159*
10. Tom Sykes (Yamaha YZF-R1) – 1’30.229*
11. John Hopkins (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’30.272*
12. Jonathan Rea (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’30.387*
13. Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati 1098R) – 1’30.612*
14. James Ellison (Yamaha YZF R1) – 1’30.816*
15. Troy Corser (BMW S1000RR) – 1’30.916*
16. Ruben Xaus (BMW S1000RR) – 1’31.120*
17. Leon Camier (Yamaha YZF-R1) – 1’31.176*
18. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9) – 1’31.215*
19. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati 1098R) – 1’31.217*
20. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’31.260*
21. Luca Scassa (Kawasaki ZX10R) – 1’31.874*
22. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki ZX10R) – 1’31.887*
23. David Salom (Kawasaki ZX 10R) – 1’32.183*
24. Matthieu Lagrive (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’32.243*
25. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki ZX10R) – 1’32.245*
26. Simon Andrews (Kawasaki ZX10R) – 1’32.343*
27. Alex Polita (Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9) – 1’32.584*
28. Blake Young (Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9) – 1’32.735*
29. David Checa (Yamaha YZF-R1) – 1’32.811*
30. Roland Resch (Suzuki GSX-R 1000K9) – 1’33.374*
31. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Honda CBR1000RR) – 1’33.408*

*failed to make the final session of Superpole 

World Superbike Superpole Rider Quotes

Ben Spies – Yamaha World Superbike – 1st, front row
“It was a good Superpole session for us, we almost got caught out as I think I was the last one to leave the garage. As soon as I came out of the pit lane I could see the drops start to come so I had to really attack the warm up lap. I told myself to nail the first sector so I could relax a little bit in the back half in case it rained a bit more. The first sector was brilliant, in the second and third rain drops were coming so I wanted to be careful not to touch any paint down. It was good to get up there to the front as it’s a short start to turn one so it’s a good position for us. The bike is working great on race tires as well so I’m looking forward to what will be an exciting race.”

Max Biaggi – Aprilia Racing – 2nd, front row
“In the last session I was really lucky because no one expected any drops and then it really started to rain. I started soon because I had nothing more to learn after what I had done in free practice and I thought I must put my head down and go as fast as I can. Second place is good for us, for tomorrow I’m quite OK, maybe not exactly the way I wanted to be but OK. It’s great to be here, I like this track, my bike could be a little bit better but I think I can go well tomorrow.”

Shane Byrne – Sterilgarda Ducati – 3rd, front row
“I’m really excited to start from the front row at Donington which is my home track. I’m happy for my best practice result of the season. I couldn’t have done it though without the crew who have done such a good job. They managed to combine the best features of each of the two bikes I worked on yesterday. I’m ready for any weather condition for tomorrow’s races. I’ll try and use the warm up session to choose the tires for race 1 and hopefully do well in both”.

Shinya Nakano –Aprilia Racing – 4th, front row
“Like Max said we had some luck today, but so far this is my best qualifying performance in Superbike. On Friday we were struggling but things went much better today and I am looking forward to racing here at the Donington Park track.”

Michel Fabrizio – Ducati Xerox – 5th, second row
“It was a pity it started to rain right at that moment, in the last part of the Superpole, but I did my best and starting from the second row shouldn’t be too much of a problem. For tomorrow I’d say that we’re sorted with regard to the race tire and as far as the qualifiers we used today are concerned it didn’t go badly. I wanted to get under 1m30 and in the second Superpole I managed that, breaking the lap record in the process. Tomorrow we have to see what the weather will do, and then based on the track temperature, we’ll decide which rear tire we’ll use to try and get back on the podium again.”

Noriyuki Haga – Ducati Xerox – 6th, second row
“We found a good solution today for the setting of my 1198 and I considerably improved my lap times. We just need to decide on the race tire. The choice comes down to which rear, because there are two quite similar solutions, but we need to wait and see and decide tomorrow based on the track temperature. I just hope that track conditions tomorrow are not damp but either totally dry or totally wet. In the final Superpole this afternoon I could have pushed harder but to tell the truth I didn’t want to risk a crash; some of the guys made some fast laps but I preferred not to take risks and so will start tomorrow in sixth.”

Tom Sykes – Yamaha World Superbike – 10th, third row
“A bit of a shame, obviously I’m not impressed, on the qualifier I ran wide on lap one a little bit and didn’t make it happen. It’s especially frustrating as looking at the times in Superpole three a front row start was definitely on the cards for me. We messed up a bit in session two, really disappointing as race pace is up there and I wanted a good clean start for tomorrow. We’re on row three so let’s see what happens. I’m going to have to dig deep and make some passes. The qualifying session was ok, we definitely have a fast race pace, if we can get away clean we are in with a good chance tomorrow.”

Gregorio Lavilla – Guandalini Racing – 13th, fourth row
“I knew that the Superpole wouldn’t be easy for me, and I was a bit shaken from the fall I took just before the Superpole began. I’m still working on the bike’s setting and the problems I have had with the race tire are only amplified with regard to the qualifiers. Despite all this, my final position today is the best I’ve had so far since racing with Team Guandalini and so I am partially satisfied. For tomorrow I know I have a good pace and I hope to make a good start to be able to fight with the frontrunners.”

Troy – BMW Motorrad Motorsport – 15th, fourth row
“We had some new stuff to try today and the first signs are encouraging. It was a bit more easy to use the throttle and a bit of an improvement in set-up. Everything feels a bit more fluid and, although there’s still a lot of work to do, I am looking forward to further progress. This series is the hardest and most competitive it has ever been and there are so many strong teams out there all fighting for positions. Considering the level of competition this year, I think we’re doing pretty well at this stage of our development.”

Ruben – BMW Motorrad Motorsport – 16th, fourth row
“I am going two seconds or so a lap faster than last year and that makes me happy. The new parts have had an impact on me straightaway and I think we can improve the bike quite a bit as we carry on the good work. This series is tough for sure, and it’s interesting to realize that today’s lap times are so much faster than last year. I had a bit of a problem with the brakes on one of my bikes today, otherwise I think I could’ve pushed harder in Superpole. But the important thing is that we are all working hard. Today has given us all something to work towards because we can see the possibilities better.”

Yukio Kagayama – Alstare Suzuki Brux – 18th, fifth row
“Although we had improved the bike a little from the morning to the afternoon, it was only a small step forward and not enough for me. Today, my biggest problem was no grip. Even when I tried a different tire, with a different construction, the feeling was not good and it felt unsafe. So we went back to a softer tire but there was no improvement. In the end, we ran out of time and when I did try a qualifying tire I had the same problem, even though normally the grip level is better. There was also a bit of a problem with the traction control so we will have to sit down with the data, work out what was happening today; and then see what we can do to improve tomorrow. I am so far down the grid that it will be hard to see the lights, but I never give up and will fight for every place I can.”

Broc Parkes – Kawasaki World Superbike – 22th, sixth row
“It’s been a really challenging weekend so far; the bike has been difficult to turn into corners here, and that has slowed us up. We have tried a few things on the bike but we still have that issue, for some reason. It’s the first time this year we have been out of Superpole, and of course all the other teams are also stepping their game up.”

Jamie Hacking – Kawasaki World Superbike – 25th, seventh row
“At the moment the bike does not turn in that well and doesn’t give you that much confidence in the front. This track is brilliant, the way it is all put together is very neat, but when you are fighting something it doesn’t make for a good lap. The cambers here make things a little more difficult as well. I am sure we can try something new tomorrow in warm-up.”

Blake Young – Alstare Suzuki Brux – 28th, seventh row
“Well that was another tough day, but I am enjoying the whole experience and getting the most out of it, thanks to the team. They are helping me a lot and there is so much to understand about this bike, the tires and the track. I want to go faster and I would like to go faster. Every time I go out, I see the lines other riders are taking and I want to be able to lap like them. The team changed the bike for me today and the alterations they made suited me more. I just wish I could have more time and more laps, but the good news is that there is no pressure on me from the team, so I can go out and enjoy the races tomorrow.”

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