Fabrizio Leads Day One In Kyalami: Updated

Cycle News Staff | May 15, 2009

For the second race in a row, Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio ended the first day of practice and qualifying for World Superbike with the fastest times. Now we’ll have to wait and see if he can do it again tomorrow when it really counts, or if someone will again knock him off the top spot.Either way, today belonged to the Italian as he lapped the Kyalami circuit in South Africa at 1:38.103 to take provisional pole position after earlier leading the first free practice session. Fabrizio lapped at 1:38.103 to best Brit Jonathan Rea, the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider having his best World Superbike qualifying effort to date with a 1:38.506 – some .4 of a second off Fabrizio’s best.Third fastest went to Texan Ben Spies, the Yamaha rider lapping at 1:38.600 on his R1. Spies will try and earn his sixth straight pole position tomorrow as the World Superbike men return to 2.6-mile Kyalami circuit for the first time since 2002.The provisional front row was filled today by Stiggy Honda’s Leon Haslam, the Brit regaining his form after a disappointing weekend in Monza. Then came Aprilia’s Shinya Nakano, heading the second row as the last rider rider in the 1:38s as he lapped at 1:38.998.World Championship points leader Noriyuki Haga was next, followed by Guandalini Ducati’s Jakub Smrz, Spies’ Yamaha teammate Tom Sykes and then Aprilia’s Max Biaggi. Ruben Xaus rounded out the top 10 on the factory BMW.DFX Ducati’s Regis Laconi suffered five fractured vertebrae in a first session practice crash at Kyalami, but is reported by team and organizers to have suffered no neurological or cerebral damage. He slid off on only his first lap of the weekend, exiting Turn 11, he and his bike sliding into the gravel at high speed and disappearing from the view of the regular trackside TV cameras.He is understood to have suffered the vertebrae injuries as his head and neck dug into the gravel. Some reports that he had hit a tire wall without any airfence on it were denied – in categorical fashion – by the organizers. Laconi is in hospital and the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seven vertebrae in his upper back are currently having two plates clamped across them to immobilize his injured bones and start what is expected to be a long healing process. More news as it comes in.Gregorio Lavilla was the fastest of the fill-in riders today, the Spaniard riding Brandan Roberts’ Guandalini Ducati to the 13th fastest time. Fonsi Nieto, who has taken over Max Neukirchner’s Alstare Suzuki, ended up 22nd in his return to the series with Steve Martin the 24th and last rider on the timing sheets on Troy Corser’s factory BMW.Friday Qualifying

1.                  Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:38.103

2.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:38.506

3.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:38.600

4.                  Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:38.865

5.                  Shinya Nakano (Aprilia) 1:38.998

6.                  Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) 1:39.055

7.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:39.230

8.                  Tom Sykes (Yamaha) 1: 29.258

9.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:39.230

10.                  Ruben Xaus (BMW) 1:39.357