Both Airwaves Ducati 999F06's will start on the front row of the grid in round 10 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship tomorrow. Leon Haslam led for much of qualifying before the lead was taken from him in the closing minutes resulting in 2nd place. His team mate Gregorio Lavilla challenged hard throughout qualifying eventually finishing 4th giving him the final front row spot.
After a drama filled practice this morning which included 2 red flags, a slip off by Leon and a technical issue for Greg, qualifying looked like it would be just as action packed. Conditions were not ideal but the 50 minute qualifying session stayed dry although the skies threatened and the wind was still strong.
Leon was the first rider to dip under 1 minute 20 seconds recording a time of 1:19.970, the lead then changed hands a few times before a red flag halted the session. Having returned to the track Leon re-took pole before bettering his own lead again with his fastest time of the day, 1:19.567. Rea then went 0.134 seconds quicker in the closing minutes of the session relegating Haslam to 2nd. Lavilla was unlucky with back markers and a red flag on his flying laps but still managed to record a time of 1:19.863 for 4th place. However with the top 6 riders within 0.52 seconds of each other tomorrows' racing is likely to be close.
Leon, who still leads the Audi Quattro performance award by 7 points from his team mate, said after qualifying, "I am very happy with that. I did a race run this afternoon as I had to make a decision between two tyres. I have opted for the slightly harder but more consistent tyre which I still managed to do a 1:19.9 lap with so I am confident with my Dunlop tyres. Unfortunately the session was red flagged on one of my qualifying laps and on another I got held up in traffic at the last corner so I think I had a faster lap in me; but I am happy enough with 2nd place on the grid."
Lavilla said, "I did some good times on my race tyre but I got caught up in traffic on one of my qualifying laps and I still managed a 1:19.8 so I am happy with the front row start. I am confident with the bike so I am just looking forward to racing tomorrow."
Colin Wright added "We are very happy with today, Leon and Greg have started on the front row eighteen times this year between them, this is an achievement in itself and one we can be proud of. The racing will be close tomorrow and I know Greg and Leon will do what they can to retake the championship lead."
"That qualifying session was fast - those boys were on it! I thought for sure a 1min 19sec lap would have put me on the front row but I've ended up fifth. I was biting the screen I was trying so hard.
"I have not followed any other riders at Croft. I've concentrated on my own riding and doing plenty of laps. In morning warm up I'll try latching on to a few of the quicker qualifiers and see how I compare on race tyres."
"This morning we made a significant improvement to my Rizla Suzuki by changing the gearing. It helped the bike to turn into corners and gave me a lot more confidence through the fast sections.
"The bike is handling better but I a lack of grip from the rear tyre has held me back this afternoon. I am spinning the wheel almost everywhere and can't get the power to the ground, which is frustrating. We know how to fix that and will be trying a few changes in warm-up ahead of the races."
Round 10 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship starts tomorrow, August 13th 2006.
- 1: Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:19.433
- 2: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.134
- 3: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.162
- 4: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.430
- 5: Shane Byrne (Suzuki) +0.496
- 6: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.520
- 7: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +1.044
- 8: Michael Rutter (Honda) +1.067
- 9: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +1.238
- 10: Glen Richards (Honda) +1.422