Qatar: Series Thursday notes

First strike for Spies (Yamaha) in Qatar Ben Spies (Yamaha) set the quickest time on the opening day of qualifying action at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The three-times AMA Superbike champion -- and race 2 winner at Phillip Island -- ...

First strike for Spies (Yamaha) in Qatar

Ben Spies (Yamaha) set the quickest time on the opening day of qualifying action at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The three-times AMA Superbike champion -- and race 2 winner at Phillip Island -- dominated qualifying, ending the one-hour session with a time of 1 minute 58.886 seconds, eight-tenths of a second off the best time set by Troy Corser (Yamaha) last year.

"Today went pretty good, the result will be more important Saturday but every time I come to the track with Yamaha the bike is getting better and it's already such a fun bike to ride" declared Spies. "The team's working really good, but there are so many people that are fast out there that if you have just an OK session you end up behind. It's going to be a tough year, but we're clicking off session by session and we'll see where we're going to end up."

Spies, the only rider to lap below the 1'59" mark, was close to a second quicker than almost all his rivals, with the exception of Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), three-tenths behind. The young rider from Northern Ireland was the spearhead in the competitive three-rider Ten Kate Honda attack, with Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari placing third and fifth respectively. The latter two were separated by Max Biaggi,who took his Aprilia RSV4 to a provisional front-row grid slot thanks to a quick lap at the end of the session.

In sixth place was the first Ducati, the Sterilgarda machine of Shane Byrne, while the factory 1098R machines are so far down in eighth (Michel Fabrizio) and eleventh (Noriyuki Haga) respectively. Last year's winner Suzuki are so far struggling, with Max Neukirchner only down in thirteenth place, and Yukio Kagayama fifteenth, approximately 1.5 seconds off the pace. The two BMWs of Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus were right behind the Japanese rider in sixteenth and seventeenth.

FIM Supersport World Championship

The first day of Supersport action at Losail bore the mark of Yamaha as the two factory riders powered to the top two positions in qualifying. Cal Crutchlow from the UK set the provisional pole in a time of 2 minutes 02.634 seconds, with his French team-mate Fabien Foret just over a tenth behind. Crutchlow's performance was even more impressive seeing as it was the first time he had raced on this track. The rest of the top 15 runners were all within 1 second, and they were headed by Phillip Island winner Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), in front of Hannspree Honda Althea's Matthieu Lagrive, three-tenths off the pace. The provisional second row is led by the young Australian Mark Aitchison (Hannspree Honda Althea) ahead of Spain's Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com), who is proving to be extremely rapid around this track. Triumph also had a positive qualifying hour, with Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli eight and eleventh on the ParkinGo BE1 675 machines.

-credit: wsbk

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Series World Superbike
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Noriyuki Haga , Ruben Xaus , Ben Spies , Troy Corser , Fabien Foret , Kenan Sofuoglu , Yukio Kagayama , Michel Fabrizio , Gianluca Nannelli , Max Neukirchner , Jonathan Rea , Ryuichi Kiyonari , Cal Crutchlow , Joan Lascorz , Mark Aitchison , Phillip Island