Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox Team) set the pace in first qualifying for the European Round of the World Superbike Championship at a cold and damp Donington Park today. The Australian's time of 1m32.333s was well inside the long-standing best lap set by Neil Hodgson in 2000 although it is the first time World Superbikes have raced at Donington since 2001. Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi was less fortunate, crashing in the one-hour session and ending up outside the top 16.
"It's a pretty good start to the weekend" declared Troy. "This morning we had very mixed conditions, around 6°, and the track was quite wet. We did OK but were a little bit hesitant and had to work our way into it. This afternoon the track finally arrived dry towards the end of the session and the times were quite good considering we hadn't had any dry track time. I'm confident tomorrow if we get some good conditions we can go quite a bit faster, but overall the bike's feeling good and I'm happy on it so we'll move on to tomorrow."
"I could have done without that crash at the entrance to Coppice when I lost the front", commented Lorenzo. "I haven't been here for six years and I'm finding the conditions quite difficult. Tomorrow the forecast looks better and today I just didn't want to take any risks. However I feel that potentially I can go a lot quicker because the bike set-up is pretty good. The crash led us astray a bit because we then made the wrong choice of front tyre, the softer one, and the track started to dry out and I was unable to set a quick time. Tomorrow I'll try and improve, especially in the last part of the circuit from the chicane to the final hairpin."
"The session was pretty good for me. It was drying up at the end there but even in the damp conditions I was second quickest at one point and that's unusual for me so I was pretty pleased. The new package we have on the bike is giving me a lot of confidence even in these conditions. We were going to put on new tyres towards the end to go for pole position but we know the weather forecast is OK for tomorrow and Sunday so we've held some back. We've got plenty of tyres for the weekend so hopefully we can get the best out of them and I can concentrate on winning."
"It was not bad today. In the rain this morning I had a good feeling on the bike immediately. We tried to improve my riding style during the session and by the end I was much quicker than the beginning. In the qualifying I started with a rain tyre then changed to intermediate, then dry. My lap times improved and by the end I was confident that I could secure my fastest time, but I hit some traffic and lost about five tenths of a second. This was not so good because I know I could have gone faster but it's not a problem - tomorrow it will be better."
Troy Corser (2nd - 1'32.817 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"I'm pretty happy with the engine changes we've made today. The bike is easier to ride and is pretty comfortable so now we can focus on finding the right balance and settings. The crash was my fault, I just went in a bit too quick but I was lucky and got away lightly. After this morning's cold session where we didn't get much opportunity to really try the tyres, we got some consistency this afternoon and there was good grip."
Noriyuki Haga (8th - 1'34.553 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"I remembered the track from my last ride here in 2003 in the MotoGP class so today was more about trying to finding the right set up. This morning was very wet and too cold, though, making it difficult to push the bike too much. The lines were drying this afternoon but some corners were still wet so I spent much of the time looking for the best lines. Tomorrow I hope to get more time to focus on our race set up, but that depends on the weather and luck."
Yukio Kagayama - 7th, 1:34.549:
"The conditions today were not easy and then I crashed! It happened at Craner Curves when I hit a small damp patch on the track and lost control. I hit my head and knocked myself out for a little while but there were no other injuries. My back is very sore but I'm sure it'll be ok after a good sleep. I would like to race this weekend but it is not up to me. We shall see what happens in the morning."
Max Biaggi - 9th, 1:34.593:
"Today was not so easy and I used the time to try and find a good base set-up for my bike. We had no data from here so we had to start at the beginning and work our way through quite a few things. In these conditions it is difficult to try and choose tyres for the race because conditions could be very different tomorrow or Sunday. This afternoon, when the track was half wet and half dry, was tricky and I didn't want to push too hard and crash. A few times today I made small mistakes breaking too hard and having to run a bit wide. That was probably because we had some clutch problems and that was probably why I couldn't go any faster at the end of the qualifying session."
Shinichi Nakatomi (23rd - 1'38.568 - Team YZF Yamaha);
"This is my first time riding at this circuit, the only time I have been to Donington before was last year when I came to watch the British Superbike round. This circuit is very beautiful but very difficult technically, with high speed up and downhill corners. I did not get a good position in this afternoon's session due to the weather but I am hoping for drier weather tomorrow to allow me to get a better qualifying position for the race."
- 1. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1m32.333s
- 2. Corser (Yamaha) 1m32.817s
- 3. Xaus (Ducati) 1m33.646s
- 4. Toseland (Honda) 1m33.692s
- 5. Laconi (Kawasaki) 1m33.729s
- 6. Muggeridge (Honda) 1m34.203s
- 7. Kagayama (Suzuki) 1m34.549s
- 8. Haga (Yamaha) 1m34.553s
- 9. Biaggi (Suzuki) 1m34.593s
- 10. Rolfo (Honda) 1m35.363s