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Sep 27, 2013

Melandri On Provisional World Superbike Pole Position Heading Into Superpole At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Marco Melandri (33).
eni FIM Superbike World Championship
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, California
September 27, 2013
Combined Qualifying Results, Before Superpole (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Marco MELANDRI, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:23.775
2. Niccolo CANEPA, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), 1:23.938
3. Tom SYKES, UK (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:24.153
4. Sylvain GUINTOLI, France (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:24.303
5. Chaz DAVIES, UK (BMW S1000RR), 1:24.334
6. Danny ESLICK, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:24.345
7. Davide GIUGLIANO, Italy (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:24.373, crash
8. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:24.394
9. Leon HASLAM, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:24.592
10. Ayrton BADOVINI, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), 1:24.616, crash
11. Jules CLUZEL, France (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:24.617
12. Toni ELIAS, Spain (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:24.699
13. Mark AITCHISON, Australia (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:24.839
14. Roger HAYDEN, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:24.845
15. Michel FABRIZIO, Italy (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:25.010
16. David SALOM, Spain (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:25.449
17. Blake YOUNG, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:25.661, crash
18. Federico SANDI, Italy (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:25.668
19. Vittorio IANNUZZO, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:25.975
20. Glenn ALLERTON, Australia (BMW S1000RR), 1:26.735

More, from a press release issued by Pata Honda Superbike Team:

Pata Honda SBK gets to grips with Laguna Seca

Pata Honda World Superbike riders Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio both qualified for tomorrow morning’s Superpole sessions after a changed qualification schedule today at Laguna Seca in the USA.

The 12th round event at the 3.610km circuit near Monterey in California features race one tomorrow (Saturday) at 14.00 local and race two at the same time on Sunday, so one free practice and two qualifying session were held at the circuit today.

Italian Marco Melandri set the fastest time as Haslam and Fabrizio familiarised themselves and their Honda CBR1000RRs with Laguna’s undulating terrain and the iconic Corkscrew chicane.

Leon Haslam – P9

It’s been a good day in the end after we struggled a bit in first qualifying earlier. We couldn’t find the right direction but I think we’ve made some progress now after trying a few electronics changes, as well. We’re definitely getting more stable and I did a good 18-lap run on a race tyre in the final session, setting my fastest time on about lap 14. I’m pretty confident and happy with what we’ve achieved today and we’re not a million miles away from the others. There are still a few things we want to try tomorrow before Superpole so we’ll see what we can figure out.

Michel Fabrizio – P13

It’s my first time at Laguna and the track is absolutely fantastic. I have enjoyed riding it very much today but we have had a few problems getting the bike right for the circuit. The main problem is engine braking but this is something that the guys can work on this evening. Tomorrow I look forward to riding here again and making some more improvements.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

It hasn’t been easy for Michel today. He’s still quite new to the bike and it’s his first time at the track. We’ve made some progress today but we need to improve tomorrow to get into the top ten. Leon struggled a little earlier to find the right setting as he found his way round. He made quite a step in his last run though and we’re in touch now. Because the track is short, the times are very close, so just a couple of tenths can lift you higher.

More, from a press release issued by Team SBK Alstare Ducati:

Canepa and Team SBK Ducati Alstare qualify second for tomorrow’s Superpole at Laguna Seca

Monterey (USA), Friday 27 September 2013: round 12 of the World Superbike Championship got underway today at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway in California, USA; Team SBK Ducati Alstare enjoyed warm and sunny conditions during this first day of track action and results were extremely positive.

Ayrton Badovini used the morning’s free practice session to familiarize himself with what is for him a new track, making some set-up modifications with his team during the 45 minutes available. He closed the session in eleventh position with a time of 1’26.0. Niccolò Canepa, who substitutes the injured Carlos Checa this weekend and has raced here in the past, lapped a tenth of a second faster than Ayrton (1’25.9) to position himself tenth at the session’s end.

In a change to the usual Superbike race schedule, both qualifying sessions took place this afternoon. In Qualifying 1 Niccolò and Ayrton started to get into their rhythm and both were able to improve significantly on this morning’s times. While Ayrton dropped his time by a full second, stopping the clock on 1’25.0 to take eleventh position, Niccolò improved by 1.5 seconds, recording an extremely impressive 1’24.4 with which he projected himself into second position, only 0.013 of a second behind leader Laverty.

Later in the day, in second qualifying, Ayrton took a step forward. After a small crash at turn 6 in the early stages of the session, he returned to the track and recorded a 1’24.6 that positioned him tenth, a good result considering he is riding with an injured left ankle. Niccolò, evidently at ease on the American track, waited until the final minutes before showing his real potential. The first rider to lap in under 1’24 today, Canepa’s best lap, a 1’23.9, ensured him of final second place, an extremely positive result that augers well for the races.

Ayrton Badovini: “The track is difficult but we’re getting to grips with it gradually. The problem is that, with all the left-hand corners, after a while my foot starts to play up. I didn’t want to push too hard today, in order to save something for tomorrow. But I’m fairly pleased because I don’t think our pace is bad and it seems that the new weight distribution is making a difference. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Niccolò Canepa: “I’m extremely happy! To come to a track as difficult as this one, and considering this isn’t my category, finishing second today is a great result. I’m also confident because I know we still have room for improvement and so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Our pace is looking good and so, all things considered, I’d say we’re in a good place. Thanks to the team for all their hard work so far; I hope we can improve further tomorrow.”

Superpole will take place tomorrow morning followed by Race 1 at 2pm local time. Race 2 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, again at 2pm.

More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:

A positive start for team Althea and Davide Giugliano at Laguna Seca

The twelfth round of the World Superbike championship got underway today for team Althea Racing at the Laguna Seca track in the USA. The Superbikes return to the track, located in the Monterey area of California, after a nine-year break. This first day saw the first free practice session and both qualifying sessions take place.

In this morning’s practice, which took place on a dry track and in warm and sunny conditions, Davide Giugliano proved that he did not have any particular problems interpreting this new track and with a time of 1’25”907 he closed in ninth position, just over half a second from leader Davies. The Althea rider and technicians used the session to set up their RSV4, trying to find the best solution on what is a very unique track.

The first qualifying session kicked off in the early afternoon and it was clear that Giugliano and his team are working in the right direction. Davide improved by over a second and with a time of 1’24”719 he obtained sixth place. The day ended with the second qualifying session in which Giugliano was able to improve further. Thanks to a best time of 1’24”373 he took final seventh place and secured entry to tomorrow’s Superpole which will take place a few hours before the first race of the weekend.

Davide Giugliano: “I am happy with how today went. We made improvement with each exit that we made and the result is quite a positive one, seeing as it's our first experience of this track. I really like riding here, and tomorrow our objective is to work hard to improve our pace. I'm feeling quite confident and I want to thank all my team for their big help today here at Laguna Seca”.

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:

Laguna Seca – Free Practice & Qualifying Practices.
Friday, 27th September 2013.

Weather conditions: Sunny.
Temperature: Air: 23 – 24 °C, Track: 24 – 51 °C
Number of riders participating: 20/19 from 12 teams
Fastest lap Free Practice: Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team) 1:25.218 min
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam) 1:23.775 min

It was a long and successful Friday for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team at “Laguna Seca Raceway” (USA). Factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) set a new best lap at the famous Californian racetrack and secured provisional pole-position with his BMW S 1000 RR. His team-mate Chaz Davies (GBR) finished today’s qualifying practices in fifth in the provisional second row although his afternoon was not trouble-free. The 12th race weekend of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship sees a different schedule than usual. After a free practice in the late morning, both qualifying practices were held this afternoon.

The day started well for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team, with Chaz setting the fastest time in the free practice, directly followed by Marco, who finished the session in second. In the 45-minute qualifying practice one, Marco and Chaz were fourth and tenth respectively. The second qualifying practice in the late afternoon lasted for one hour. Marco was setting fast times with his RR throughout the session and put himself at the top of the time sheets in the final stages, setting a new record time of 1:23.775 minutes. Chaz lost track time halfway through the session, when the display on his bike failed. After his crew had repaired the failure, Chaz went out on track again and propelled himself from 13th into the front positions. The deciding Superpole qualifying will take place tomorrow in the late morning. Race one is also contested tomorrow (on Saturday) and starts at 14:00 local time. Race two will take place on Sunday, again at 14:00 local time.

Marco Melandri:
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:25.377 min (P2)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:23.775 min (P1).
“It was a great day, I had a lot of fun. This weekend’s schedule is quite different from the usual one. This is why we had defined a detailed working plan which we followed perfectly today. We mainly tried to improve my feeling with the front and to be faster with fresh tyres and the result was excellent. We made a big step forward and we will have a good potential for tomorrow’s Superpole and races. I feel good, my RR works very well and I’m very positive for tomorrow.”

Chaz Davies:
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:25.218 min (P1)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:24.334 min (P5).
“The day started very well obviously with P1 this morning but I expected the other guys would catch up pretty quickly. We did not have a good session this afternoon in the first qualifying practice. We went the wrong way with the set-up, seeing that the bike was very sensitive to changes. Then in the second qualifying practice, the bike was pretty good. We had definitely improved it; I was quite consistent and felt comfortable in the end. We still need to find a couple of tenths. Today’s schedule was pretty tight, there was not much time between the sessions so there was no way to do adaptions to the gearbox and things like that. We will do this tonight and hopefully will find some benefit there. In addition, we lost around 20 minutes in the last session of the day. That was a shame as I had stuff to try but despite that we are heading in the right direction with the bike. So we will try to further improve tomorrow and then to be ready for race one, which is pretty unusual to have it on a Saturday.”

Serafino Foti (Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“It has been a positive day. Marco rode two excellent qualifying sessions. He did a great job and the result confirms the work done. Chaz did well too, despite an issue which stopped him for quite a long time in the garage but could be fixed. Chaz kept calm and stayed concentrated, and as soon he went back on the track he did a strong qualifying session. We are quite confident for tomorrow, when we will have free practice, Superpole and race one. This is a new schedule which could work very well. Now we can enjoy this moment. Tomorrow will be a new day and we will see what happens. In any case we need to keep focused because this is the only way to fight for the championship.”

Andrea Dosoli (Technical Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“It has been a very long and tough day for the guys but we were able to improve from session to session with both riders. I am quite happy with the work done by the team today. Marco was quite fast and consistent, especially at the end of the second qualifying practice. It seems that he has good confidence with his RR and he can push even when the tyre dropped. We will use tomorrow’s free practice to further improve the speed of the bike but overall we are confident that we are ready to attack in Superpole. It will be very important to make best use of the qualifying tyre. Marco used a different setting than usual today and we will see how this will work with the high-grip tyre. Chaz has been fast from the beginning on. He then unfortunately lost some track time due to the display failure. We still have to work a bit on his bike. He is consistent but we need to work on further improving the performance of his bike. We have a few ideas regarding the turning in and bike stability. The new schedule has a big impact on our normal way of working. Tomorrow we will already have the first race which gives us less time for preparation. That is why today was so important.”

More, from a press release issued by SBK Press Office:

Melandri and BMW leave it late to head qualifying

Laguna Seca (US), Friday 27 September 2013 - The second qualifying session lived up to expectations as the WSBK riders did their best to finish inside the top 15, to guarantee themselves a spot for tomorrow morning's Tissot-Superpole. Despite the temperature dropping considerably throughout the 1-hour session, lap-times significantly improved as the leading two riders were even able to break into the 1'23s barrier.

Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) eventually took top spot after displacing fellow Italian Niccolò Canepa (Team Ducati Alstare) in the closing stages, thanks to a new Best Lap of 1'23.775. Championship leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) edged his closest rival in the Championship chase Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) to claim third, while Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) strung together a handful of fast laps to elevate himself to fifth ahead of impressive wildcard Danny Eslick (Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki).

Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) salvaged seventh position after a mid-session crash, getting the better of works Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty, Pata Honda's Leon Haslam and Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare), who also crashed at Turn 6.

Notable non-improvers were Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia) and Roger Hayden (Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki), both suffering technical failures but still making Tissot-Superpole in twelfth and fourteenth place respectively.

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel made an impressive start to this weekend's eni FIM Superbike World Championship event on his first ever visit to the tricky Laguna Seca circuit in America.

Cluzel started the day in a steady, but solid way as he methodically learnt the 3,610m Californian circuit, with its undulating and physically demanding layout and finished the first session in 12th place, just over a second from the top of the leader-board. This weekend's schedule saw a change of proceedings with two qualifying sessions today and Cluzel again improved in the first one, taking over a second off his lap from this morning and moving closer to the best time. In the second and final session he again made some big steps as he worked comprehensively with his crew to get the best from his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000. The final qualifying was an hour long and Cluzel yet again improved on his time by over half-of-a-second to leave him in 11th place, just 0.8-seconds from the provisional pole position set by Marco Melandri. Cluzel is convinced there is still more to come from him and the bike and will be looking to get a good grid position in tomorrow's Superpole.

Blake Young is representing the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team at Laguna Seca this weekend as a replacement rider for Leon Camier, after the Englishman was ruled out of the event following a big crash last time out that saw him break seven bones in his foot. Young made improvements all day long on his debut for the team, as he got back into the racing groove and started to come to terms with Suzuki Superbike. He made big steps throughout the three sessions - taking over two seconds off his time - and looked like making the Superpole session on his very last lap of the day, but a crash at the Corkscrew halted his charge and he just missed out on a place in tomorrow's shoot-out. Young was uninjured in the accident and is determined to make amends in this weekend's races.

The different schedule at Laguna Seca will not only see tomorrow's Superpole taking place at an earlier time of 11.00hrs local time (19.00hrs BST), but race one will also be on Saturday with a start-time of 14.00hrs local time (22.00hrs BST). The second 26-lap event of the weekend will be on Sunday, also with the earlier start of 14.00hrs local time (22.00hrs BST).

Jules Cluzel:

"It has been a really long day because we have had three sessions and it's normally just two, but I felt good because I improved in every session. This morning I was 12th and I felt comfortable on my first time here at Laguna. In the second session we improved a bit and I got into a good rhythm, then this afternoon we took another step - which was the biggest one of the day. I was doing some good consistent lap-times alone, which was quite good because some riders were waiting for fast guys to follow and do a quick lap like this. I am quite confident with my pace, but think we can still find a bit more time and improve on the turning and find some more grip. If we improve this I am confident of a good weekend, because it has already started well. Tomorrow's free practice is likely to be cold so maybe we won't learn as much as we want to, but I hope we can continue to improve and be closer to the top and hopefully tomorrow we can fight for the first two-rows."

Blake Young:

"I started the weekend really excited to be back on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and being able to ride with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team is really good. The whole team works well together and I'm getting along with all the guys. We made huge steps in the right direction today, even though we started off pretty far down the ladder - at lot further down than I would've liked. At the end of the day we have taken huge strides to get the bike to where I am comfortable on it and feel like I can push it. At the end of the third session I was behind Jules and doing a good lap and was going up to the Corkscrew, when I got a bit too much lean angle and had a rear tyre slide. I let off the brake to get the bike back into shape and when I did I lost the front it and crashed. I am a little bit upset with myself because tearing-up motorcycles without going fast is something I hate doing. I know the guys will get it back together and I hope I can get a good result for them."

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"It's been a busy first day at Laguna with the extra hour-long qualifying session that has run late into the day. The whole team has responded well to the extra workload and has kept on-top of the bike preparation. Jules had never ridden a lap of the circuit before today, so to end the day 0.8 off of the quickest time is a great result. The lap-times are very close and we have to make the bike easier for him to ride in a couple of sections of the track, but I think that after a night's sleep, Jules will also be able to think about where he can find a bit of time, so fingers-crossed he will be able to qualify well tomorrow and be competitive in the races.

"Blake has been a pleasure to work with, on his replacement duties for Leon. After not having a permanent race seat this year it was always going to be a big ask to jump on an unfamiliar bike and get straight into the kind of speed he displayed in the AMA Superbike Championship last season. The crash at the end was unfortunate; it was on a lap that would definitely have put him into Superpole, but that has finished now and the most important thing is that he is 100% ok physically. I am sure he will race a whole lot better than he did in qualifying today."

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:




Laguna Seca, 28 September 2013 – The first, hectic day of World Superbike practice just ended at Laguna Seca. The unusual format of this round, with Superpole and Race 1 on Saturday and Race 2 on Sunday, condensed today into three full sessions. For the riders and team, making their maiden run on this difficult California track, it was a “tour de force” made pleasant by the weather conditions and the enthusiasm of the American public. The warm welcome for the Aprilia Racing Team, points leader in the manufacturer standings, seems to forecast a weekend full of excitement.

Sylvain Guintoli, currently lying second in the Championship, finished his day ten minutes early. In fact, the French rider preferred not to tire out his injured right shoulder too much so that he'll be in better condition for Superpole tomorrow. In the three sessions Sylvain consistently improved his feeling with the new track, putting the seventh best time on the boards in free practice, repeating the performance in the first qualifiers and finishing the last session in fourth place. His general sensations are good, both physical and in terms of the technical profile which will be verified in the last free practice session before Superpole and Race 1 tomorrow.

Sylvain Guintoli: “In the afternoon we reached a good basic set up even though we didn't lap a lot because I wanted to save my shoulder for Superpole and Race 1. Our decision also stemmed from the fact that the track conditions in the last session were quite different from what we'll find tomorrow. Unfortunately because of my shoulder I need to find a compromise that will allow me to be fast without too much physical stress. In any case we demonstrated a promising pace straight away. We were able to test everything we wanted to and I feel good and confident.”

Team mate Eugene Laverty also got off on the right foot, coming from a double win in Istanbul and making his absolute maiden run here at Laguna Seca. The Northern Irish rider, ahead of all the rest in the first qualifiers, later ended his day with the eighth best time in the last session after testing various set up solutions on his RSV4. Prospects are good for Eugene, despite the fact that the reduced gaps (12 riders within one second) make it difficult to accurately assess the values on the field.

Eugene Laverty: “Quite a demanding day. With three consecutive sessions it almost feels like a test! I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to a completely new track. Today we worked really well and I feel like I've reached a good starting point. There are a lot of fast riders here, so it's hard to tell which ones will be the toughest rivals tomorrow. All that's left now is to follow our own game plan and I think that it's the right one”.
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