Kyalami, Wednesday 10th December 2008
Fabrizio goes quickest on opening day of Superbike testing at Kyalami
Michel Fabrizio notched up the quickest time with his factory Ducati 1098F09 on the opening day of Pirelli tyre development testing at Kyalami (South Africa). The winter tests are being used by almost all the top manufacturer teams in preparation for the 2009 FIM Superbike World Championship, which gets underway in Australia at the start of March.
The Italian powered to a superb time of 1 minute 41.204 seconds, a tenth of a second under the unofficial circuit record set by Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda) in 2002 during the last edition of the South African round, which returns to the calendar next year on May 17th.
"I'm really pleased because it's the first time I've lapped on this track", declared 23 year-old Fabrizio, who is about to embark on his second season with the Italian factory team. "I feel sure can go even quicker, I'll try and do so in the remaining two days."
Another major surprise was second place for Yamaha Motor Italia's American rookie signing Ben Spies, who ended up just a fraction behind. "I like this track; it's almost like some AMA tracks and it's not too technical, not that difficult to learn, but I was having a lot of fun riding on it. We were most interested in trying out the bike in hotter track conditions than in Portimao. The handling is good; the engine comes in really smooth exiting corners and it lays the power down well. Top end makes no difference in that situation and the engine really drives well from low down", commented the 24 year-old Texan, a new face on the Superbike scene in 2009.
It wasn't a particularly good start on the factory Ducati for Noriyuki Haga, ex-Yamaha, who crashed three times on his debut with the 2009-spec Italian machine: the first after colliding with Jonathan Rea, the others due to a couple of mistakes, but the Japanese rider did manage to set fourth quickest time.
Max Biaggi arrived in the circuit late at lunchtime, after the other riders had already had four hours of track time, due to a series of never-ending problems with his flight, which began on Monday evening and which lasted 36 hours instead of the scheduled 12. Despite this Aprilia's new signing however did manage to get up to seventh place, 1.2 seconds off the pace, and just behind his equally impressive team-mate Shinya Nakano. "I really like the RSV4, today we just got warmed up, we'll see where we can arrive in the remaining sessions", declared Biaggi.
Both Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus were not far off the pace either on their first day of testing with the new BMW S1000RR machines, the Australian in a respectable ninth place and the Spaniard in tenth.