Talking Kyalami

Press Release | May 16, 2009

The following is from BMW…Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider Ruben Xaus was baulked by two other riders in Superpole 2 and missed getting into Superpole 1 by a whisker. In the end Ruben lost out on the chance of getting into Superpole 1 by just one tenth of a second. It was disappointing for Ruben and the team because that one tenth of a second was enough to deprive Ruben of at least a place on the front two rows of the grid. Steve Martin (Troy Corser’s replacement) continued his Kyalami learning curve whilst providing the team with lots of information and feedback.American Ben Spies (Yamaha) won his sixth Superpole of the season, with Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) second, Max Biaggi (Aprilia) third and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) fourth.Ruben – 15th, 1:38.194

I am really disappointed because only one tenth of a second or so was the margin between getting into Superpole 1 or not. I really believe I could’ve got into Superpole 1 had it not been for getting held up by Biaggi and Nakano. The time lost there was enough for me to lose one tenth of a second and a place on the second row of the grid. Instead, it’s another start from row four and a lot of work to do at the beginning of the race. But, I am happy because today my lap time is three seconds faster than when we tested here in December. Today the bike was awesome and I am sure I could go faster with harder tyres. But that’s not possible at the moment, so I just have to get on with whatever I get.Steve – 23rd. 1:41.227

I’m really quite happy even though it would’ve been nice to be a bit further up the grid. Each time out, I am getting closer to the race pace, but this is never going to be easy because the field is so high class. There are no slow riders out there and don’t forget that I have not raced at this level since 2007. I am enjoying myself though, and happy because when I talk things over with Ruben we both feel more or less the same about what’s happening on the bike.Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)

Of course it is disappointing to get so close to qualifying for Superpole 1 and then lose it because of something that happened due to other riders. But this is how it is and we have to learn from it and progress. It would’ve been interesting to see what might happened if Ruben had got into Superpole 1, but I am confident that this will happen before too long. Steve did his job well, rode safely and gave the team lots of feedback so I am happy about that. Now let’s see what happens tomorrow.The following is from Suzuki…Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Yukio Kagayama ended Superpole qualifying with the thirteenth quickest lap time and will start tomorrow’s pair of 24-lap races from the fourth row of the grid. Fonsi Nieto (Max Neukirchner’s deputy here) continued his steep learning process with the 2009 GSX-R1000 K9 and the Kyalami racetrack and finished the day 21st.

American Ben Spies (Yamaha) won his sixth Superpole of the season, with Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) second, Max Biaggi (Aprilia) third and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) fourth.Yukio – 13th, 1:38.130

In Superpole qualifying 1 and 2 I did not get a good feeling with either of my two Q tyres and so my lap times were not so good. But, I am happy with my bike set-up for the race and confident that I can fight with the top guys if I can make two good starts. I have only tested at this track once before and have never raced here, so the first start tomorrow will be a new experience for me and very interesting. I hope for two good starts and two good results and that is what I will fight for.Fonsi – 21st, 1:39.831

Each time I go out on the bike, the feeling is better, but I have a lot to learn in not much time. We have improved a lot since yesterday for sure and I think it was bad luck to miss getting into Superpole by just one place. This track is new to me and I do not like it because it is so bumpy. That makes it harder work finding a good bike set-up. I am not happy with my grid position, but I am happy because I am getting more and more used to the bike.The following is from Ducati…Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), fastest again on board his Ducati 1198 in second qualifying this morning, was robbed of his first pole position by an incredible thousandth of a second this afternoon at Kyalami. In a thrilling edition of Superpole, Michel looked like he would reign supreme, ahead of the pack in the final minute, but then in the final seconds Yamaha man Spies lapped a fraction of a second faster than the Italian to take his sixth consecutive pole of the season. Noriyuki Haga, having qualified for today’s Superpole in eleventh place, picked up the pace on qualifying tires to snatch fourth and a precious front row place alongside Michel, in second, and Biaggi, in third, for tomorrow’s races.In the morning’s qualifying session, despite not improving on his fastest time of yesterday, Italian rider Michel Fabrizio was once again the fastest rider on track and was also the most consistent, putting together a string of laps in under 1m39 to qualify for Superpole in first position. Hot on his heels this morning was the British Superbike contingent with Haslam, Rea and Sykes qualifying in second, third and fourth for the afternoon’s Superpole. Noriyuki Haga qualified safely for Superpole but in eleventh place, having spent time making further modifications to identify a more advantageous setting to try during tomorrow’s warm-up.Michel Fabrizio 1m37.2s

“I thought I’d done it today, I really thought I’d got my first Superbike pole, but it wasn’t to be and Ben beat me by just a thousandth of a second. I am very happy with my performance today but of course it’s a pity I missed out on the pole by such a fraction. We have a good race pace and I’ve been really consistent with my lap times up until now, so I hope that me, and Nori too, can be up there fighting at the front for the wins here tomorrow. I really enjoyed the racing at Monza last week and I know that this great track will be the setting for two similarly exciting races tomorrow.”Noriyuki Haga 1m37.5s

“We’ve spent the day trying to solve the same issues that we suffered from yesterday, as the bike is still causing me problems on the uneven track surface. We still have more work to do in order to be competitive for the races. I managed to do some good laps in Superpole but these were on a qualifier of course which is totally different. Anyway overall I am happy to be on the front row and I hope my arm doesn’t hinder my performance too much over race distance.”The following is from Ben Spies publicist…Today will go down as a red-letter day for Ben Spies and Yamaha. In one of the most spectacular Superpole sessions ever Spies nipped Ducati’s Michel Fabrizio to win the pole for Sunday’s South African round of the World Superbike Championships. Spies crossed the line on the final lap of qualifying, turning a one minute, 37.288-second laps on the factory Yamaha R1. That time established a Superbike track record at Kyalami and was just 1/1000th of a second faster than second-place qualifier Fabrizio.The Kyalami pole gives Spies a perfect six consecutive World Superbike poles in his rookie season. He’s now tied fellow Texan Doug Polen for the World Superbike record of six consecutive poles – a record established 18 years ago.After a quiet Friday, where he was third in provisional qualifying, Spies seemed in no mood to play it coy during Superpole at Kyalami.”We made some changes to the bike after yesterday to make it work better,” Spies said of improvements today. “I just tried to put in some solid laps in Superpole and really never got a really clean lap in the first two sessions.”Despite not having what he considered a well-constructed lap, Spies still went out and laid down the top times in both the first and second Superpole sessions. In session one it was Spies clocking a 1:37.809 to top the charts by just 5/100ths of a second over Jonathan Rea. Spies made it to the final session by turning the fastest time in session two with a 1:37.423, two-tenths over a surging Fabrizio. That set up a riveting final Superpole session.Spies immediately went to work, setting a best of 1:37.366 in the final session of Superpole.”Even though that was the top time at that point, I knew it wasn’t a great lap,” Spies admitted. “I’d turned a 37.4 on race tires, so I knew we could shave off a little more and figured I’d probably need to.”As the clock wound down Spies’ time looked like it might be good enough to hold the top spot, but Fabrizio responded with a stunning 1:37.289 on his final lap. Spies returned the favor and did the same improving his best on his final lap with a 1:37.288 to earn his sixth pole in six events so far in 2009, this time by the slimmest margin possible.In spite of his record-setting pole run at Kyalami, Spies thinks there is still plenty of work ahead for the team in preparation for Sunday’s races.”We’re still struggling some with race set up,” Spies explained. “Hopefully we’ll chip away and get things worked out in practice tomorrow morning. Regardless, I know it’s going to be a tough race. I think we’ll be right there near the front and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”The Kyalami pole sets up the possibility that Spies could establish a new World Superbike record for consecutive poles when the championship moves to the United States and Miller Motorsports Park, near Salt Lake City, in two weeks time.In the U.S., both World Superbike rounds from Kyalami can be watched back to back on Speed TV tomorrow (Sunday, May 17) starting at 2:00 pm Eastern.Ben Spies is sponsored by Yamaha, HJC, Alpinestars, Specialized and Parts Europe.

By Press Release