Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) adapted his YZF-R1 to the cool track temperatures of the Nürburgring to great effect on day one of practice, leading qualifying with a lap of 1’57.257. His team-mate Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) felt only a degree of muscle fatigue a few days after having a plate inserted to his broken collarbone, and managed to set a 1’58.020 best lap.
Both Yamaha riders have raced at the Nürburgring before, albeit in 1999 and on a different track layout, with Corser a race winner last time out.
A cold and blustery wind affected qualifying to some degree, but the main issue on day one appeared to be a slightly dirty track surface, which took some time to clean up, especially after the damp morning session held back lap times and lap totals. Corser slid off his machine late in the qualifying session, shortly after setting his best lap, but he was unhurt and his bike only scuffed.
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha GMT94) will have already made it into Superpole if the second qualifying session dawns fully wet tomorrow, having set the 14th best time in dry conditions, 1.249 seconds from Corser’s provisional pole. David Checa (Yamaha GMT94) was 19th on day one, Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) 21st.
Final qualifying and then Superpole for the top 16 riders takes place on Saturday, afternoon, with Superpole in its usual 16.00hrs slot.
Troy Corser (1st – 1’57.257 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“The ‘new’ section of track is the early section and that is also the trickiest. Turn one especially. I think because it is blind and goes downhill, downhill, downhill, it’s hard to get a braking point. If you go straight for the apex of the corner you can’t get the bike turned. The rest of the track feels the same as last time I raced here but it still feels a bit dirty, like it needs bike rubber on it to deliver more grip. I think that’s because of the rock concert they had here recently. We have steadily progressed with the bike and I’m pretty happy so far.”
Noriyuki Haga (7th – 1’58.020 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“I don’t have so much pain from my injured shoulder but the muscle tends to tire very easily so I will have to get a massage to bring it back for tomorrow. The racetrack I last rode on in 1999 and it is just the first part that seems different. The first corner is strange under braking, because there is a very tight hairpin and the braking is very heavy. But I am enjoying the track. Today was not so bad. I tested two tyres, one soft one and one harder. The soft one will be impossible to use for the race because it won’t go the distance and right now the next one feels too hard. So I have to work on suspension to match the set-up and tyre choices.”
Massimo Meregalli (Team Manager, Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“It was a very positive session today. Troy is leading and also Nori is close to the front times. We had been waiting for today to see how Nori was going to be and we are pleased that he has reacted well to his surgery. Both sides of the garage are working well to get the final set-up and be ready tomorrow morning and the last chance to qualify before Superpole.”
Sebastien Gimbert (14th – 1’58.506 seconds – GMT94 Yamaha)
“It’s my very first time at this track so obviously I am happy to be inside the Superpole qualifying group already. I did my best lap on my own, without a tow from another rider, but I may have to get some help to go much faster tomorrow. The bike has been good from the start and I have to say thanks to all the technical staff for finding such a good set-up so early. My chassis feels very good and I can ride the bike the way I want.”
The following is from Suzuki…
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner rode steadily in this morning’s difficult conditions and then upped the pace in this afternoon’s dry qualifying session to end the day with the fourth quickest lap. Although he and some of the other riders have raced at the Nürburgring before, none have raced on the layout being used for this round of the Superbike World Championship.
The morning session started wet and by the end there was just about a dry line and some riders were able to venture out on slicks. The afternoon qualifying took place in completely dry conditions and all 28 riders improved their lap times, with Aussie Troy Corser (Yamaha) ending fastest, with a lap of 1:57.257. Second quickest today is series leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati), with Carlos Checa (Honda) third and Max fourth. Team Suzuki Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama finished just behind Max in fifth place, with team mate Fonsi Nieto twelfth.
Max – 4th, 1:57.929
I am sort of satisfied, but there is still some time to go so I know that we can improve. Although I have been here before, it was a different layout I raced, so it is like learning a new track for me. We missed the chance of putting slicks on at the end of the first session but, as the afternoon was dry, it was no big problem. At the moment it is not so easy for me to ride fast here because the grip level doesn’t feel so good. Maybe that’s because the track is a bit dirty and also very cold so it’s hard for the tyres to work at their best.
Yukio – 5th, 1:57.956
This is my first time here and I like this track because it goes up and down a lot. For me there are three corners that are very bumpy, so it has been a small problem to get a good chassis set-up to cope with the bumps. My main problem today is grip! It was difficult today to get a good level of grip and maybe that’s because it is so cold. Also the track itself is cold and that doesn’t help the tyres get hot enough. Otherwise there were no real problems and tomorrow we will work on improving the engine management so that the bike is smoother to ride. We’ll also make some suspension adjustments to see if we can get better grip but, all in all, I am satisfied today.
Fonsi – 12th, 1:58.354
This is my first time here and I think the layout is not so bad, but today the grip level was not so good. I found it difficult to get a good feeling for the grip in turn one and maybe we need to change the balance of the bike and the gearing. It’s a first gear corner and it’s going to see a lot of action in the race for sure! At the moment, I just need more time on the track so that I can understand it before going fast.
The following is from Ducati…
After a wet free practice session in the morning, factory riders Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) were relieved that the track had dried somewhat before the afternoon’s first qualifying session, in which Bayliss achieved the second fastest time and Fabrizio the eighth. With neither rider ever having seen this track until their arrival here yesterday, changes to set-up were made throughout the day with each rider facing their respective difficulties. It was no surprise that, aside from Bayliss, the fastest riders of the day were Corser, Checa and Neukirchner, the few to have ridden the track before (though alterations have been made to the track in recent years). Having said that, the nine fastest riders all recorded times within a second of each other and so this promises for some close racing over the weekend.
Troy Bayliss 1m57.6s
“I was pretty happy with this morning’s session in the rain and we found a pretty good solution which allowed us to put in some decent laps. This afternoon in drier conditions was more difficult and we had a few niggling problems with one bike that threw us off and put us a little behind everyone else. We finally got a few good laps in and got going towards the end of the session but I could be happier and hope we can do a bit better tomorrow. I’m also pretty sore from the crash I had in Salt Lake and one of my ribs had been hurting out there today but anyway, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Michel Fabrizio 1m58.0s
“It went quite well today all things considered. We have no idea how the weather will be over the weekend which is a problem of course but I went pretty well this afternoon and it seems like a nice track. I’m losing a couple of tenths in the first split, in a similar way to how I was going at Miller so I want to try and make a bit of time up round those first corners tomorrow. We’ve tried different tyres today, during the wet and dry sessions, so we know more or less what to try tomorrow, whatever the conditions. I’m feeling quietly confident for the weekend.”