Round two of the Bennetts British Superbike championship got off to a good start for the Airwaves Ducati team at Thruxton today. Gregorio Lavilla came 2nd and 1st and Leon Haslam recorded a pair of 6th places, in the day's two free practice sessions.
In first practice Greg was leading for much of the session having been the first rider to post a sub 1 minute 16 second lap. His time of 1:15.707 kept him at the top of the standings for much of the 60 minute session, until Jonathan Rea went 0.430 seconds quicker to take the lead. Leon Haslam posted consistent times throughout the first half of practice, recording his best lap of 1:16.191 mid-way through the session. Throughout the remainder of practice he consistently recorded 1 minute 16 second laps, resulting in a 6th place finish.
In second practice Gregorio Lavilla again led from an early stage. Having recorded his fastest time of the day of 1:15.497 on lap 5, Leon Haslam was in 2nd. However with 25 minutes of the session remaining the Airwaves Ducati duo slipped to 3rd and 4th. Greg then clocked his fastest time of the day, 1:15.060, on his 20th lap to regain 1st place. Leon did not improve on the time he had set early in the session and finished up in 6th position.
Leon Haslam said afterwards, "I have been concentrating on my set-up and completing race distances today. I have been consistent and that was my main aim for the practice. I know I can go a lot quicker so I am really confident for qualifying tomorrow; this is a fast circuit and with qualifying tyres I think a 1 minute 14 lap is possible. As for the race I think the result will depend on tyre choice but I am happy that we have the good set up and I think I will be competing for a podium on Sunday."
Gregorio Lavilla echoed his team mate's thoughts saying, "Thruxton is a circuit where everybody is trying to find the right set up and tyres during the practice sessions; I was concentrating on that today and so I put in a lot of laps and completed the race distance. Although we did not try for really fast times today I am confident that we can record some quick times in qualifying and get a good grid position for the race. People believe this circuit is not suited to a Ducati, but I like it, and we seem to do well here; let's hope that is the case on Sunday!"
"I completed a 17-lap run on a Dunlop rear and at the end I was still running fast lap times. I set my fastest lap in the middle of that stint and I think the tyre is a strong candidate for using in the races.
"Overall I am happy with my Rizla Suzuki but there are a couple of areas that we can still improve. A little less wheel-spin would be ideal - we have introduced a traction control system to the GSX-R1000 this weekend and hopefully that will help."
"It's been a baptism of fire coming back to Thruxton after seven years; it is a very challenging and fast circuit. After the morning session I was 2-seconds off the pace and in the afternoon I'd reduced that to 1.4-seconds, which means we are getting closer to the front and making progress.
"My Rizla Suzuki feels good and we are working on making it a little more comfortable and user friendly. At the moment I think there is more to come from me rather than changing the bike. I'll be thinking hard about my lines around the circuit and I'll be stronger tomorrow."
- 1: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 1:15.060
- 2: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +0.175
- 3: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.280
- 4: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.300
- 5: Leon Camier (Honda) +0.362
- 6: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.437
- 7: Cal Crutchlow (Rizla Suzuki +0.636
- 8: Shane Byrne (Honda) +0.735
- 9: Tom Sykes (Honda) +0.772
- 10: Karl Harris (Honda) +1.163
- 12: Chis Walker (Rizla Suzuki) +1.449