The following is from Ducati…Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio, with the bit between his teeth and undoubtedly spurred on by his maiden win at Monza last week, took to the Kyalami track today with a perceptible determination, to top the time sheets in both the morning free practice session as well as this afternoon’s first qualifying. Noriyuki Haga meanwhile concluded this first day in sixth position, having made various changes throughout the session to try to resolve problems with the front suspension.In the first qualifying session of the weekend, on a track that had cooled significantly since the morning’s practice, five riders ducked under the 1m39 barrier with Michel lapping fastest, with a lap time four tenths faster than that recorded by second-placed Honda rider Jonathan Rea.The injury that Noriyuki sustained to his right bicep during last weekend’s Monza round remains sore, and prevented him from performing at the maximum level, however the treatment that he is receiving from the doctors at the Clinica Mobile allowed him to ride without particular problems.Last here in December when he participated in winter testing, Ducati man Michel Fabrizio topped the time sheets on each of the three days, with a fastest time of 1m39.7s, recorded on the third and final day. Team-mate Noriyuki, riding the 1198 for the first time during those tests, registered a fastest lap time of 1m39.9s.Michel Fabrizio 1m38.1s
“Everything has gone well so far. After the win and second place at Monza I’ve arrived here ready for action. We were fast right from the beginning of this morning’s practice and this made it easier to improve further during the qualifying. We’ll see tomorrow but I’m sure that to remain ahead I need to go a few tenths faster than I have today. I’m aware that I’m 21 points off second place in the championship and knowing this only spurs me on further!”Noriyuki Haga 1m39.0s
“Physically, I’ve not had too many problems and my arm already feels better this afternoon compared to this morning but it’s getting tired easily and I haven’t been able to put together many consecutive laps. The bike isn’t copying the uneven track surface and this puts more strain on my arm. Anyway, today the bike has felt similar to how it did during winter testing which is a good thing but tomorrow we need to try a different setting to improve on times and get us to the front of the pack.”The following is from Infront Sports…Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) continued his recent run of positive form as he powered to the provisional pole in the opening qualifying session for the sixth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship at Kyalami. The 24-year-old Italian, who dominated the pre-season testing session here last December, set a new official benchmark of 1 minute 38.103 seconds around the 4.246 km circuit.Second place went to Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), the British rider four-tenths of a second behind Fabrizio, as he continued his good form of late. Texan rookie sensation Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) moved up from 14th to third in the last few minutes of the session, while Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda) was back up at the front with the final provisional front row slot.Shinya Nakano was next up for Aprilia, followed by points leader Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), whose arm is still swollen following last Sunday’s incident at Monza. Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Ducati), Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike), Max Biaggi (Aprilia) and Ruben Xaus (BMW) make up the top 10, while South African champion Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team) caused a few eyebrows to be raised at one point as he was running in an impressive third place before ending the session in twelfth. Suzuki Alstare riders Yukio Kagayama and Fonsi Nieto, in for the injured Max Neukirchner, struggled today, finishing in 15th and 22nd position respectivelyDuring the first lap of the morning’s free practice session, Regis Laconi (Ducati DFX) crashed in the section between Turn 11 and Turn 12. Unfortunately in the crash the French rider, despite not hitting any obstacle, suffered a severe trauma to the cervical vertebrae. Transported by helicopter to the nearby Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg, Laconi is reported as being on the danger list. The serious injuries suffered mean that an operation will be required, which will be carried out by a neurological specialist in the next few hours.World SupersportThere was a spectacular three-way battle for the quickest time of the day in the Supersport category. It looked as if it was going the way of Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport), but then Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) managed to dip under his time. In the end the quickest mark was set by the 2007 Supersport champion Sofuoglu with a time of 1 minute 41.566 seconds. Fourth place went to reigning champion Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), the Australian almost a second behind his team-mate. Fabien Foret’s positive form is continuing for Yamaha World Supersport, as the Frenchman took his R6 to fifth place, where can also be found the two ParkinGo Triumph Be1 machines of Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli. Season revelation Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec) was also on good form in eighth position, while major progress was made by Indonesian rider Doni Tata Pradita (YZF Yamaha), who was eleventh quickest.The following is from Suzuki…The first day of practice and qualifying was a difficult one for Team Suzuki Alstare Brux. Yukio Kagayama struggled with the bumpy nature of the 4.263 kilometre circuit and finished fifteenth quickest. Fonsi Nieto, standing in for the injured Max Neukirchner, has never raced at this track before and today was the first time on the GSX-R1000 K9 bike. He used the day to learn the bike and the track and ended with the 22nd best time. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) posted the day’s fastest lap, with a time of 1:38.103. Second quickest was Jonathan Rea (Honda), with Ben Spies (Yamaha) third.Yukio – 15th, 1:39.475
We started with the set-up we used when we tested here last December, but my bike didn’t work as well. The track feels more bumpy to me and that meant I could not push as hard as I wanted. We improved the bike in the afternoon, but many other riders went faster, so I ended 15th. My main problem today was the bumps, but the rear tyre was also spinning in a couple of corners, so tomorrow we will try some suspension changes to see if we can make any improvements.Fonsi – 22nd, 1:40.544
New track, new bike and a lot to learn today for me. Fortunately I know the team very well and they have helped me a lot. I am very happy to be back in World Superbikes and I feel as if I have never been away because this team is so good. The K9 bike is very different to last year’s bike, but I hope to learn everything fast and keep on improving. I don’t particularly like this track because for me it is very bumpy and dangerous in some places.The following is from BMW…Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider Ruben Xaus rode superbly on the first day of qualifying at Kyalami and put his S 1000 RR into the top ten. Ruben’s lap of 1:39.357 was less than 1.3 seconds slower than the provisional pole time of 1:38.103 set by Michel Fabrizio (DucatI), but was just one of his many consistent laps. Ruben’s team mate this weekend, Steve Martin, used today to get familiar with the bike, try different set-ups and gain confidence.Ruben – 10th, 1:39.357
Considering that this is our debut year, to finish in the top ten on day one is very good, especially when you see how close the lap times are. I’m happy because I have gone 2.7 seconds faster today then when we tested here in December. I think I have also adapted to the bike better now and, as far as I am concerned, everything is improving. And, good news, because finally I didn’t have a ‘black Friday!’Steve – 24th, 1:42.015
Generally I am quite happy with how the day has gone and there have been no problems. I managed to feel what’s going on with the tyres and try different set-ups. I haven’t raced in World Superbikes for four years, so there are no expectations on me. Since the first time I tested the bike (in spring last year) it has come on in leaps and bounds and it is still getting better. All we’re really missing is time on the bike to try different things and improve it. It’s always hard to do that at the racetrack, especially when you consider how competitive the championship is this year.Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)
The team have worked hard and done a good job today. I am very happy with Ruben’s performance, especially as he didn’t have his usual ‘black Friday’. He did consistently good laps and was able to still be fast at the end, which is perfect. Steve has also done a good job and he will improve the more track time he gets. He is giving the team good information and feedback and we are very happy to have him deputising for Troy this weekend.