New Yamaha World Superbike Team rider Eugene Laverty made an impressive debut today for his first ever World Superbike Championship race weekend. Having spent the morning's free practice session making further adjustments to his set up, the 24yr old rider from Northern Ireland sent a clear message in the afternoon's qualifying, the first of two over the weekend, using his 2011 R1 to its full potential to take third in the final timesheets just 0.392 seconds from front man Carlos Checa.
Laverty's new teammate, fellow World superbike rookie Marco Melandri had a less successful day today. The 28yr old Italian rider struggled to find a good feeling with the tyres used today, resulting in him losing the front end on turn 6 and falling. Melandri wasn't hurt in the incident and returned to complete qualifying on his number two bike but was unable to better eleventh in the timesheets, just over a second off the lead.
Eugene Laverty, Yamaha World Superbike Team 3rd, 1'31.969
"I'm very satisfied with my position today, I didn't expect to be that high up in the standings although my aim was to do a 1.31 to get me through to Superpole tomorrow, so I was expecting the lap time but not the position. We learnt a bit more today for our race set up but we still need to work on a bit of consistency. Thankfully we can now focus tomorrow morning on race set up." Eugene Laverty
Marco Melandri, Yamaha World Superbike Team 12th, 1'32.700
"It was a very bad day for me today everything seemed to be going wrong. Definitely a no meaning day, I will start fresh tomorrow! I lost the front when I was trying a harder front tyre, I had no feeling in it and suddenly it was just gone. Tomorrow we will go for a different tyre and a set up we know so we should be much better, I am confident we will be up there."
Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager - Andrea Dosoli
"It wasn't the best day today for Marco, he crashed after a few laps of qualifying, losing the front at turn six testing a harder front Pirelli tyre. He had to switch to a different bike and was less confident in pushing hard for the rest of the session. I have no doubt that tomorrow he will be much better. Eugene was quite fast and with small change to set up he was able to make a better lap time than the test here last week. He managed to test some different tyres today as the track temperatures were different to the test, so he has a better idea of what he should use for tomorrow and the race. Once again he's showed us his potential."
Yamaha ParkinGO Team Take Provisional Front Row Start with Davies Yamaha ParkinGO Team rider Chas Davies took a big step forward today following last week's test here at Phillip Island. A new set up on the 2009 World Supersport Championship winning R6 worked well for the young British rider, propelling him up the time sheets to finish the first qualifying session in fourth with a time of 1'35.065 and earning a provisional front row start for Sunday's first race of the season. Chas Davies teammate Luca Scassa also impressed and wrapped up first qualifying in sixth, the Italian rider less than two tenths behind Davies with a time of 1'35.236. Scassa will also trial the new set up for tomorrow's second qualifying session, looking to kick off the first race with both riders on the front row. Both riders, second and fourth in the top speed ranking, were clearly benefiting from a further two sessions on their new race machinery, having had limited testing time in advance of this season's first race on Sunday due to a late agreement between Yamaha and ParkinGO to run the bikes.