Opening day challenge for FPR riders The opening day of the new Superbike World Championship season provided an immediate indication of the heightened level of competition facing Foggy PETRONAS Racing. Australian pair Steve Martin and Garry ...
Opening day challenge for FPR riders
The opening day of the new Superbike World Championship season provided an immediate indication of the heightened level of competition facing Foggy PETRONAS Racing.
Australian pair Steve Martin and Garry McCoy were both able to improve their fastest times from last weekend's test at the Losail circuit in Qatar by half a second.
But, with the rest of the field also reducing their lap times, the FPR riders already face a battle to qualify for tomorrow's Superpole battle for the top 16 grid positions.
Valuable set-up time was lost when rain ruined the first morning's free practice session, although Garry and Steve finished that session in first and second places respectively.
Troy Corser set the pace on a dry afternoon track with a time of 2:01.244, with Steve recording a fastest lap of 2:04.045 and Garry 2:04.991.
Steve said: "It was a good thing to improve another half a second on a race tyre but I didn't make it into the 2:03s, which I thought I would do. I just hope tomorrow's weather will allow me to have another crack at it. I am not having any rear grip problems with the race tyre when it is new, so the qualifier does not seem to be making too much difference. I have been working on anti-squat and I have found a better gearing. I'm going to try desperately to get into Superpole tomorrow, but it's not going to be easy. It's important to remember that this is the first meeting of 12 and I feel good about the way I am riding, that the bike is improving and the way the team is working."
Garry said: "I am still where I don't like to be, but the bike is definitely getting closer to what I am looking for. We still have a couple of bugs that we are looking to worm out. I am pretty close to the set-up I want but, when the clutch is not doing what I want it to, it leaves me a little bit confused with the set-up. But we are definitely going in the right direction and if I could get the clutch working in every one of the 16 corners then that would bring the time down significantly. It was a blow that it was raining this morning as it would have been nice to sort out these problems in time for the afternoon."
Only nine riders ventured out onto the slippery surface in the morning rain. Garry set the example with a time of 2:41.775 before any other rider had left their pit garage. Steve followed his lead with a time of 2:46.327 completing three laps compared to Garry's four.
With regulations permitting only three wet front and rear tyres per rider for the whole weekend, many riders chose to conserve their allocation with further wet weather forecast throughout the weekend.
Day one qualifying times, Superbike World Championship round one, Doha, Qatar: 1 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona) 2:01.244; 2 Cardosa (DFX) 2:01.388; 3 Laconi (Ducati Xerox) 2:01.980; 4 Gimbert (Yamaha France) 2:02.217; 5 Neukirchner (Klaffi Honda) 2:02.236; 6 Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki) 2:02.284; 7 Vermeulen (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 2:02.469; 8 Chili (Klaffi Honda) 2:02.507; 9 Haga (Yamaha Italy) 2:02.687; 10 Toseland (Ducati Xerox) 2:02.754; 20 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:04.045; 25 McCoy (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:04.991