Fabrizio (Ducati) tops tyre development testing times at Kyalami

Michel Fabrizio was the revelation of the Pirelli tyre development tests at Kyalami, South Africa, in preparation for the 2009 FIM Superbike World Championship. The 24 year-old Ducati Xerox rider headed the timesheets on every day of the three-day test: in today's final session he was quickest on both race tyres and qualifying rubber, on which he clocked the circuit's unofficial fastest time of 1 minute 39.714 seconds.

Ben Spies also came on strong again on the final day, despite having only one '09-spec Yamaha R1 available after his big crash on Thursday. The AMA Superbike champion powered back up to second place on soft Pirelli qualifiers towards the end. Third quickest time went to the other factory Ducati machine of Noriyuki Haga, making his debut on the 1098 F09 in place of Troy Bayliss, who retired at the end of this season.

The Hannspree Ten Kate Hondas were well up in the standings after three days of testing, with 22 year-old Jonathan Rea looking promising in fourth place ahead of 35 year-old Carlos Checa in fifth.

An oil leak in the morning failed to prevent Max Biaggi from making a good impression on the Aprilia RSV4 in the new bike's first face-off against its Superbike rivals: the Italian finished the test with a positive eighth quickest time, one second exactly off the pace of the leading Ducati.

Troy Corser had a harmless crash in the morning on his BMW S1000RR machine, the other major new entry in the 2009 season. The German bike is still slightly off the development pace in comparison with the other manufacturers but the experienced Australian is convinced that the potential is high.

OK PIRELLI -- Three days of testing at Kyalami allowed one-make tyre supplier Pirelli to develop the tyres that will be used in the 2009 championship, which gets underway on March 1st at Phillip Island in Australia.

"In conditions of extreme heat we accumulated a lot of interesting data that confirms the positive development of our tyres" explained Pirelli's Head of Racing Activities Giorgio Barbier. "The times were excellent but above all we are satisfied with performance over race distance. It's going to be a great season."

In each one of the 14 rounds of next year's championship, Pirelli will provide 3 or 4 front and rear tyre solutions: regulations stipulate that each rider can use a maximum of nine fronts and eleven rears.

The next World Superbike pre-season tests will be from 23-25 January at Portimao (Portugal), where the development teams (one for each of the seven manufacturers present in the championship) will be joined by all the other teams.

-credit: worldsbk.com