Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) set the fastest time of the first wet qualifying session at Vallelunga. In a great team display Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) went fourth fastest, despite the atrocious track conditions.
Haga also fell at high speed in the timed session, on a part of the track where many riders also ran off the track or crashed. Corser came close to falling at the same spot, but saved his potential high-side before coming into the pits to finish his session with a top four time.
The second day of qualifying, which will culminate as usual with Superpole, is expected to be run in dry conditions, which will allow the team to get back to the kind of settings they used in the summer test at Vallelunga in July.
David Checa (Yamaha GMT94) went 20th, one place up on his team-mate Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha GMT94). Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) was 24th from 27 entrants.
Noriyuki Haga (1st – 1’50.595 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“We set the fastest time so we can be very happy with that but the rain made things much more complicated for us, and everyone else as well. I fell hard on the part of the track that flicks left before the back straight, and the bike landed on my head at one stage. I was surprised because I had found more feel with the back tyre grip through the session, and when the back tyre went it felt the same way as it does when you hit oil. No warning, no slide, just gone. But we set the fastest time, even though I also fell earlier in that same session, when I lost the front. I would be happy if tomorrow it is not raining!”
Troy Corser (4th – 1’51.228 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“Today it was just a case of getting through the day, no crashes and find a bit of a set-up, just in case we need it tomorrow. The track itself is not too bad when it is not actually raining. In those conditions there is some kind of grip, but it’s just a bit greasy in a few places. As soon as it starts to rain the water starts building up, especially in the new surface where Nori fell. The water is not running off, so it’s like a pond. Through the back kink you could not see the edges of the track. It would have been nice to get some nice dry track set-up, but we have a good set-up from the test we did here in the summer anyway.”
Massimo Meregalli (Team Manager, Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“today went well apart from the big Nori crash. Even though we effectively lost a day’s set up because of the rain today as we tested here in the dry in July we are confident we have a good base set up to go into the weekend with. Considering the weather on track we are very happy with our riders who both qualified well.”
The following is from Suzuki…
Today’s atrocious conditions hindered Team Suzuki Alstare riders Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama and Team Alstare Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner, and none were able to finish in the top ten. Yukio was closest, with eleventh, with Fonsi fourteenth and Max nineteenth. The rain started in the morning and became heavier throughout the day and resulted in many crashes, including two by Max. Fortunately the young German was not injured and he, like all the riders, is hoping for an improvement in the conditions tomorrow. Japanese rider Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) topped the standings today, with Ruben Xaus (Ducati) second, Troy Bayliss (Ducati) third and Troy Corser (Yamaha) fourth.
Yukio – 11th, 1:52.507
Today the track was very slippery and although my feeling for the track is better than Donington it is not prefect yet. This track is a bit strange because there are two different parts with different surfaces. Funnily enough the older part has the better grip than the newer part. The new section had a lot of standing water in many places this afternoon and there it was impossible to see the track because you can only see water! I hope the conditions are better tomorrow.
Fonsi – 14th, 1:52.719
We started with our wet set-up from Donington and made some changes to the mapping and other small changes. I feel I have more grip here than I had in Donington, because there I could hardly lean the bike over. There is a lot of standing water round this track, particularly in the last corner and it’s difficult to see exactly where the track is. Like everybody else, I am hoping for better weather tomorrow.
Max – 19th, 1:53.336
This is a difficult place because there are two different track surfaces and the grip level is different in both of them. For me, the older section has better grip than the newer part, but there are some places on the track where there is so much water you cannot see the surface at all. I had two crashes today, but no injury, so it’s no big thing at all. The first crash happened when the rear end just suddenly came round without any warning and I fell. The second was because there was just too much standing water and I hit it and crashed. It was quite easy to do!
The following is from Ducati…
After spending four days in the rain at Donington just two weeks ago, the Ducati Xerox Team were not expecting to face similar conditions here at Vallelunga. Two wet sessions left factory riders Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio in third and sixteenth place respectively at the end of today’s first qualifying.
The rain intensified mid-way through the afternoon qualifying session, meaning that nearly all riders spent a good part of the session confined to the garage. Troy, who had recorded the third fastest time earlier in the session, decided not to go back out on track. Team-mate Michel exited for the final time just minutes before the end of the session but unfortunately the track conditions prevented him from improving on his lap times. As the weather is likely to improve tomorrow, the Ducati Xerox team will start over in the morning, positive that they will improve performance throughout the weekend.
Troy Bayliss 1m51.1s
“It doesn’t feel like we’re at Vallelunga to be honest, as all the test sessions we’ve done here in the past have been in hot, sunny conditions and now we’ve had rain all day today. It’s rained solidly but at least we had good settings from the last wet weekend in Donington so it’s gone ok for us. Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny again so we hope that’s the case and that we can have a positive, and dry, weekend. I’m feeling comfortable on the bike and so the plan is to do two good races on Sunday, take some solid points and see what the situation is at the end of the weekend .”
Michel Fabrizio 1m52.8s
“The problem this afternoon was that just as I was starting to pick up pace it started to rain more heavily, meaning I had to come back into the garage. I didn’t get another chance to improve my times after that as the rain continued. There were certain points of the track where I was sliding a lot, a lack of grip that meant I was losing the rear. Anyway, they are saying that tomorrow should be sunny again so I’m hopeful that that’s the case and me and team will start afresh, improving on today’s performance.”