Spies gets back to Superpole domination at Donington
Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) soon got back to his Superpole winning ways with his eighth pole of the year in nine races at Donington Park in the UK. The 24 year-old Texan was the only rider to dip under 1'30" in the final run, which was conditioned by a light rain shower that prevented his rivals from responding, and he ended up in the top slot with a time of 1 minute 29.846 seconds. After a difficult weekend at Misano, the Aprilia Racing team had a superb qualifying day, with both of their riders getting onto the front row, Max Biaggi in second and Shinya Nakano in fourth. The final front row slot went to British rider Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati), who also had the satisfaction of being the first Ducati 1098 on the grid.
Ben Spies: "It was a good session for us, but we almost got caught out. I was one of the last to leave the garage and as soon as I went out of pit-lane I could see the drops starting to come, so I had to really attack the warm-up lap to make sure I got around and get relaxed in case it started raining. The first sector was brilliant, but then the rain started to come and I had to be careful not to touch the paint. It was good to get pole, this circuit has a short start for turn one so it's good positioning. The bike's working well on race tyres so we need a good start tomorrow."
Max Biaggi: "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: "I think we got a little bit lucky because the bad weather came in quickly. Fortunately we got through the first Superpole session without using qualifying tyres, but I was kind of hopeful of a good result anyway. We've been doing a lot of work on both bikes this weekend and we ended up with them going in different directions, but I'm happy with the direction that we've been going since America and Misano. I'm delighted with getting the first front row of the season for myself and the team."
Shinya Nakano: "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."
The factory Ducati Xerox team had to settle for the second row, with Michel Fabrizio qualifying ahead of Noriyuki Haga in fifth place. In the second Superpole run the Italian powered to a new Donington Superbike best lap with an amazing time of 1 minute 29.664 seconds. The first Honda on the grid was the Hannspree Ten Kate version of Carlos Checa, who almost didn't make it into Superpole after taking twentieth place in qualifying. Riders who failed to make the final session cut included Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), by just 0.003 seconds, Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike), the rapidly improving John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda), and Misano winner Jonathan Rea Hannspree Ten Kate Honda). Both BMW men, Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus, easily made it into Superpole and will start from row 4, while British Superbike points leader Leon Camier (Airwaves Yamaha) had a disappointing session and could only qualify in 17th place.
Not even two crashes and a bone fracture in his left ankle following Friday practice could stop Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) from notching up his sixth pole position of the year in nine races. The points leader did not get off to the best start in this afternoon's qualifying, crashing out for the second time this weekend, but he returned to the pits and a few minutes later was out on the track again to make his decisive move. The result was a new Donington Supersport circuit record in 1 minute 31.701 seconds. Such was Crutchlow's domination that his nearest rival for the title, Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda), was half a second behind, with an excellent Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec) seven-tenths off the pace and the final front row man Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) over one second behind. Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea) was well up the grid in fifth place, ahead of Garry McCoy with the first of the Triumphs and Massimo Roccoli (Honda) once again up at the front on the Intermoto Czech Honda. Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) could only manage the third row, while 2007 champion Andrew Pitt's below-par weekend continued as the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda man starts from row 4.
The changeable weather conditions turned the Superstock 1000 qualifying session into an exciting affair. A rapidly drying track caught out several teams and riders and there were a number of illustrious victims, including two of the title favourites Claudio Corti (Alstare Suzuki) and Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Honda), who failed to come into the pits to change from wets to slicks. The Italian and the Frenchman will line up side-by-side on row 6 of the grid for a race that promises to be an uphill struggle. Xavier Simeon (Ducati Xerox) did make an early tyre change and was rewarded with pole position, his third in a row. The Belgian is favourite for the win tomorrow and has a chance to pull ahead in the title battle. Alongside Simeon can be found Frenchman Loris Baz (MRS Yamaha), Sylvain Barrier (Garnier Yamaha) and Javi Fores (Kawasaki Pedercini), while Italian Davide Giugliano was sixth quickest on the MV Agusta.
Danilo Petrucci (Yamaha Trasimeno) powered to his third pole position in five races with a time of 1 minute 35.997 seconds at Donington. The points leader, the only rider to get under the 1'36" mark, held off an attack from Britain's Gino Rea (Ten Kate Honda), his closest rival in the championship. The remaining places on the front row went to Belgian Vincent Lonbois (MTM Yamaha) and Marco Bussolotti (Yamaha Trasimeno), who edged out Eddi La Marra (Honda Lorini) by a whisker.