Vermeulen Seventh in Opening Magny Cours Exchanges
Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) fought against the hand, ankle and hip injuries he suffered at the previous Imola round during the first day of Magny Cours qualifying, but still finished strongly inside the top ten fastest times of the day. Working to improve rear end traction during corner exit, the team has found the final venue of Magny Cours a real challenge, but one they are confident of conquering before raceday. His time of 1'43.205s compared well with that of surprise fastest rider, Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha), who set a 1'42.599s lap on his privateer machine.
Vermeulen is fully aware that his pre-race preparations have been compromised by his injuries, and the fact that all his main rivals for the championship itself have tested at Magny Cours this year. Vermeulen is going for the championship title this season, currently 13 points from leader Regis Laconi, and nine from second place rider James Toseland.
Said Vermeulen, "My hand is a little sore but it's not my biggest problem. My arm is a bit painful under braking but the biggest thing is trying to get the bike working properly. I don't have a lot of rear traction and we have tried lots of different tyres. Now we have to change the bike to make it work for a tyre. It's worse out of the slower turns. It's such a different track and it's a shame we didn't get the chance to test here. But what the team is very good at is turning the bike around between Friday and raceday. I've got confidence in them."
Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate, was justifiably satisfied with his team's best efforts, stated "We're putting a big effort in to improve the times. We are far from satisfied now, but Chris's body is reacting fairly well now he has got into the swing of it after a couple of sessions. Adrenaline is taking over. We will be working hard to make up the gap to the guys in front, who have all tested here this year."
Final qualifying and Superpole take place on Saturday 25th September.
Muggeridge Second and Parkes Fourth After One Day
Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) had to leave it late in the first timed session to take second fastest time of the day, with his team-mate Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) in fourth place overall. The session itself was interrupted with just over ten minutes left to run, after another rider's blown engine left oil on the track.
Muggeridge, the new World Champion in Supersport, had to work his way through a tough first couple of sessions, to set a time of 1'44.230s, only 0.031 seconds from provisional pole man Kevin Curtain (Yamaha). Sebastien Charpentier, on home tarmac, was third fastest, with Parkes' 1'44.954s good enough for fourth on the provisional grid.
Magny Cours, despite the annoyance of the oil spill, was a warm and welcoming place compared to last year, when low temperatures contrasted with the pleasant 22°C which was experienced this afternoon.
Said Muggeridge of the first day, "I went a bit faster at the very end and that was good, especially because of the problem of oil on the track. I was trying to make sure there was no oil anywhere else and with ten minutes left, there were a lot of people all revved up to go. We had a few things go wrong this morning, and that cost us a lot of time. Even my kneeslider got ripped off at one stage. I don't know how I managed to set 14 laps this morning - I must have been in and out 14 times to adjust settings and so on. We haven't quite managed to get the bike to work properly over the bumps, but we will, and when we do it will be really good."
Parkes was disappointed to be fast early on and then lose some pace in the later stages. "I had a few problems towards the end of the session and I had hoped for a bit better in terms of the lap time. The oil spill on the track did not help and it made me a bit hesitant. The bike feels pretty good and I didn't change it much from the Imola race. I put in the same times on a race tyre as I did on the softer one I used at the end so I think there is a fair bit still to come."
Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate made it plain that there was much still to do before raceday. "Both riders are on the front row which is good, but still we have quite a lot to do. The interruption did not help us in some regards but it did give us some time to discuss the set-up and how to make the bike work better. We gained a bit towards the end but the oil on the track did not make the circuit any faster. Nonetheless, I'm happy with our progress. We've found we cannot make practice with the same set up as last year. It was cold last year and the warmer conditions have made things much different now."