Fabrizio To The Top

Paul Carruthers | June 26, 2009

On five riders cracked the 1:40 barrier at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa this morning in free practice. Not so in the afternoon qualifying as 17 were under 1:40 and the top 11 were separated by less than a second. One thing remained the same, however – Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio was the man at the top of the timesheets again.Fabrizio, who is desperate to turn the fortunes of his year and the factory Ducati team’s 2010 World Superbike season around, went to the top of the leaderboard early in the afternoon qualifying session and he stayed there, the Italian lapping at a best of 1:38.477 – .604 of a second better than his morning effort.”We made a good start today,” Fabrizio said in a team release. “We started from last year’s set-up, but then made a variety of changes to both the front and rear of my bike. I have a good feeling and didn’t have any particular problems today. The only thing we need to work on is tire wear as I did a mini long-run today with the new tire that’s available to us, but after nine laps the grip was already dropping off.”Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow shot to the second on his very last lap, the Brit putting in a 1:38.529 – just .052 of a second behind Fabrizio, who for most of the session led by as much as half a second.”I think today went okay; I’m pretty pleased to be honest,” Crutchlow said in a team release. “I should have been fastest, but I got held up on my last hot lap. I think it’s going to be difficult in race conditions; tyre wear is a big issue as the track is very abrasive. Overall second fastest isn’t too bad on the first day, we’ll go away now and will look at more improvements for tomorrow with the team.”Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea was also a late charger in the session as jumped up to second late before getting knocked down to third by Crutchlow at the end. Rea lapped at 1:38.423 – .210 off Fabrizio’s mark.The provisional front row was filled by BMW’s Troy Corser, the Australian contining to show that the BMW effort has arrived after putting the bike on the podium for the first time last week in Italy.Row two was headed by World Championship points leader Leon Haslam, the Alstare Suzuki man heading Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, Ducati-mounted Jakub Smrz and Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.Shane Byrne and Luca Scassa rounded out the top 10 today. Noriyuki Haga, the man who won both races at Kyalami a year ago, ended the day 13th fastest.American Roger Lee Hayden ended his first day in Kyalami in 20th with a best of 1:41.054.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:38.477

2.                  Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:38.529

3.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:38.423

4.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:38.896

5.                  Leon Haslam (Suzuki) 1:38.951

6.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:38.954

7.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:39.027

8.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:39.094

9.                  Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:39.281

10.                  Luca Scassa (Ducati) 1:39.28820. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki) 1:41.054

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.