Talking Phillip Island

Press Release | February 28, 2010

The following is from Suzuki…Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam recorded his first ever World Superbike win in the first race of this year’s Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island today.He led the race from start to finish and took the flag, just 4000ths-of-a-second ahead of Michel Fabrizio (Ducati).He and his Suzuki Alstare team mate Sylvain Guintoli then disputed the lead for most of the second race, but Haslam’s dreams of a double were dashed right at the death by Spaniard Carlos Checa (Ducati). Nevertheless, his tremendous win in race one and runner-up spot in the second puts him on the very top of the Superbike World Championship, nine points ahead of his nearest rival.Also encouraging for the team was Guintoli’s ability to run at the front and be in contention: The Frenchman led his team mate eight laps out of 22 and did not look out of place at all. This was his first race of the year, on the new 2010 GSX-R1000 bike, with a new team, but he also showed that he too will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Although he missed out on the podium, he did receive a trophy – for the fastest lap of race two – so he did not leave Phillip Island empty handed.Leon Haslam – Race 1: 1st, Race 2: 2nd: “I am so happy to get my first WSBK win and it feels great! I want to thank the team and all the staff back at the workshop for all their support and hard work and I’d also like to thank Francis and Patricia Batta for having faith in me.”The first race was such hard work and it was impossible to relax for a second. I knew that I had Michel and Nori breathing down my neck, but I just kept concentrating on my lines and my braking points and tried to hold them off. I realised that Michel was in my wheeltracks going into the last turn and would try and use the draft to get past me, but I kept my head down and charged to the flag. At the end, I didn’t know if I’d won or not, but when I realised that I had, I was so unbelievably happy and it was such a fantastic feeling. All weekend I knew that a win was possible, but thinking about and it happening are two different things.”In race two, I had some problems with rear traction but I still thought I could win. I had a great fight with Sylvain and when I finally got ahead of him and made it stick, I thought he might act as a buffer between me and the rest. Then suddenly, Carlos was there. He dived under me just three corners from the end, on the last lap. I tried to get it back, but he managed to hold me off and take the flag. But it feels good to take a win and a second in my first race with the team and it feels fantastic to be leading the Superbike World Championship.”Sylvain Guintoli – Race 1: 6th, Race 2: 4th: “I have really enjoyed today and it’s been great fun. I can’t remember the last time I was leading a World Championship race, so to lead quite a lot of race two was a great feeling and now I want to do it again. When I was in front, I felt comfortable and I knew I could keep up a good pace. Everything felt very smooth and it was all going to plan until I made a small mistake and Leon and then Carlos went through. Carlos and I touched in turn 8 when my elbow was in contact with his front wheel and then I tried a bit too hard to get back straightaway when perhaps I should’ve been a bit more patient and that’s where I lost ground.”I could’ve made a better result in the first race if I hadn’t had such a bad start. My pace was good, but I was too far off the leaders, but I am learning about WSBK race pace and also the fact that the races are longer than what I have been used to. I am very happy with all the work we’ve done and am enjoying riding this bike so much. It was nice to get a trophy for the fastest lllap in race two and I hope that it will just be the start of many to come. I am looking forward to Portimao and my next trophy.”The following is from Yamaha…It wasn’t an easy start for Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland today at the season opening race in Phillip Island Australia. Race one saw both riders crash out, Crutchlow losing the front having run wide on onto a dirty section of track on lap two and Toseland highsiding on the fifth lap.Race two saw a fiercely contested battle for points with both riders fighting off riders including Biaggi, Corser and others to stay within the top ten. Combined with a less than perfect set up on both bikes and struggling for grip the riders put in an incredible ride to bring their bikes home in the points, Crutchlow in ninth and Toseland tenth.Crutchlow moves on to round two in Portimao in 12th position in the championship on seven points, team-mate Toseland sits just behind in 13th with six points.Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (DNF, 9th)

“Race one was unfortunate, I felt we had good pace and were running up in the top five quite comfortably, I just made a little mistake. I was a bit better than Rea into the hairpin so had to run wide to avoid him and lost the front on the dirt. The second race was hard, I felt like I had no grip from the start and still some chattering. If we had better grip we could have pulled more out of it. We need to go back to the drawing board and work some stuff out.”James Toseland, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (DNF, 10th)

“I really needed to finish the second race after the crash in the first. To only finish 14 seconds from the front with the issues we’ve had this weekend is not so bad. I was really disappointed with the first race, with my injury on Friday I wanted to have two good finishes today. Full credit to the team they’ve tried so hard but unfortunately we haven’t had the software here to solve the issue. We know what the problem is and I’ve given enough feedback and input to give the guys a direction to go in. We’ve got a lot of work to do, no doubt, but even with all the problems we’re not actually that far away. The package, the power, the balance and the suspension have come on leaps and bounds. On to Portimao now, it’s a long season so we can do it.”Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager

“It was definitely a really tough weekend for us. We solved some problems, and some we still have to work on. As we spent the two day test and the first day of the race weekend resolving the chatter issue, qualifying and race day was our first opportunity to really test the 2010 bike set up. We’ve seen that we have the potential to do well so we will go home and start working on the solutions to be ready to fight for the Portimao races. The team have worked really hard over the last few days to try and solve the issues and both Cal and James have given 100% to meet the challenges.”The following is from Honda…Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) improved on his qualifying performance in each 22-lap Phillip Island race, leaving the opening round of the year in overall sixth place.Jonathan had qualified seventh in the three-part Superpole after finding more difficulty in getting a set-up to make one fast lap than putting in a consistently fast race pace. In race one he was fourth, in race two sixth, but his second race of the day was by far the most challenging.His fellow Honda riders battled hard but each suffered with their own issues at this fast and undulating 4.445km circuit. Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) went from 17th in qualifying to 12th in race one. Stand-in rider for Broc Parkes, Josh Brookes (ECHO CRS Honda CBR1000RR), scored points for 14th in race two, despite qualifying 20th on the grid at his home circuit. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Garvie Image CBR100RR) qualified 22nd but moved up to 16th and then 17th in the races.In the first race Rea rode aggressively at the front of the second group of riders, finishing some ten seconds behind the winner, Leon Haslam (Suzuki). Rea had to ride with a combination of aggression and defensive strategy to stay ahead of the three riders following closely behind.In race two, held in very slightly warmer conditions than race one, Rea made changes to his machine set-up, but after running on at turn four, he was 22nd and last, but carved his way back to sixth, once more coming out on top of a multiple rider fight. In a race won by Ducati privateer Carlos Checa, Josh Brookes went back to the settings he used in testing and pushed up to 14th, earning two points. Max Neukirchner was pushed wide and had to fight back to score 16th, and miss out on any points. Thanks to his race one score, he is 15th in the rankings, on four points.With 23 points Rea is now sixth in the championship, tied on points with Sylvain Guintoli. Leon Haslam leads the championship on

45 points, following up his race one win with second place in race two.Portugal is the host country for the second round of the championship, on Sunday 28th March, at the Portimao circuit near the Algarve coast.WSB RIDER COMMENTSJonathan Rea, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda: “All positive to be honest. It is easy to look at the results and get downhearted but we are not going to do that, because that is where our pace was all weekend, between four and seventh. We knew it was going to be difficult to get on the podium but that was the aim. Getting fourth in the first race was the best-case scenario. In the second race, after running off then seeing P22 on my pit board, I dug deep every lap and caught up to sixth. The bike felt better from race one to two as well. I had a few bad races last year, so if that was a bad weekend we’ll take it.”Max Neukirchner, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda: “We made some improvements from the first race to the second race, but the only problem was that I made a mistake in the third lap of race two, when fighting with Biaggi and ran off track, losing about 20 seconds. It was hard to try and come back from that. I am really not happy but we did find some good things and I improved how I work with the team.”Josh Brookes, ECHO CRS Honda: “We went back to similar settings that we had at the tests, even though that meant we had some problems with chatter again. When we tried to get rid of those we lost the ability to keep a good line and turn the bike on the throttle. So we went back to what we had, I was able to race with some guys and took some points in race two.”Vittorio Iannuzzo, Squadra Corse Italia: “We had some issues in the test last week and although we did not score any points like we planned, we finished both races as well as we could. I had a problem in race one with my electronics as well.”LAVERTY WINS AT SECOND ATTEMPTRace winner Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) had used practice and qualifying to work on his race set-up almost constantly and as such he had qualified fourth on the grid. But in real race conditions he was untouchable for sheer pace and he held a strong lead right to the end of the 21-lap race, beating Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) and second fastest qualifier Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR).The race was re-run over its entire 21-lap distance after the first attempt was eventually declared null and void after oil was spread on the track at the Hayshed and second corner, while Laverty was in the lead. Laverty repeated his quick starting trick again and controlled the pace from the front.Both Sofuoglu and his fellow front row qualifier Michele Pirro (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) experienced tyre issues in the race, with Pirro pulling out in the end, after his tyre deflated.Massimo Roccoli (Czech Intermoto Honda CBR600RR) was forced to use his second bike, with a partially used tyre, in the restart putting him sixth overall. He had been ninth on the grid.Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) went from 11th on the gird to ninth in the race, despite not getting the best start in the re-run.In his first ever Supersport World Championship race, reigning Superstock 600 European Champion for Honda Gino Rea (Czech Intermoto Honda

CBR600RR) jumped up to tenth from 14th.Laverty takes his five-point championship lead over Lascorz to his team’s home race in Portugal on March 28th.WSS Rider CommentsEugene Laverty, Parkalgar Honda: “We made improvements all over the course of the weekend, but yesterday what we were working towards was a

race set-up for the second half of the race, making sure the bike looked after the tyres. I think that is why I only qualified fourth but I

knew that we could do 1’35 laps consistently in the race. The laps the other guys put in during qualifying were incredible, and I couldn’t match

them, but what was important was that I could do it for 21-laps.”Kenan Sofuoglu, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda: “I had some issues with the rear grip in the race and I had to manage that. I was trying to save it to

the last lap but I had to slow down at the end. I am on the podium but I am very disappointed.”Massimo Roccoli, Czech Intermoto Honda: “We were unlucky in the race but we still got sixth place. I had to use my second bike but the rear tyre

already had five laps on it. In the first eight or nine laps it was good but in the last few laps the grip dropped off. But top six first time out is OK.”Michele Pirro, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda: “We had a deflation of the tyre and I could not continue. I do not know why there was the problem, but it

finished my race. Immediately there was not a good feeling in the restart so I could not do the pace I wanted. I had crashed on someone else’s oil in the first start as well.”Miguel Praia Parkalgar Honda: “The second start did not go well, and with all the oil dust on the first lap there were lots of different lines from

the riders. I could not get away with the group I wanted to be in. I was hoping for a top seven but I got into the top ten at least.”The following is from Ducati…The crowds at Phillip Island were today treated to two spectacular Superbike races, the first of which resulted in the closest ever finish in Superbike history, with Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) crossing the line just 0.004 of a second behind Leon Haslam on the Suzuki. Less than a second behind Michel, in third place, was his team-mate Noriyuki Haga. Race 2 was also extremely hard fought and some very close racing which made for great viewing saw Michel battle his way to a third place finish with Nori just behind him in fifth.This morning’s warm-up passed without incident for Michel, who registered the fourth fastest lap time but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for his team-mate Noriyuki, victim of a 250 km/hour crash on entering in the first corner after being knocked from his 1198 by Xaus. The doctors of the circuit’s medical centre declared him fit to ride, although the Japanese rider had suffered some bruising to his back, as well as a severe blow to the right forearm which swelled to such an extent as to require an pain-relief injection before the race.Despite the difficulties in warm-up, race 1 began very well for both Ducati Xerox riders, Michel holding second position and Noriyuki, fast as lightning in his start, making up several position, to rocket from tenth to third position through the first corners. Right from the second lap the gap between the leaders, Haslam, Fabrizio and Haga, and the chasing pack, led by Jonathan Rea, began to increase and by mid-race the top three had built a five second advantage over fourth placed Rea. In the final four laps Michel tried to find a way past the young Briton but it was not to be and a final charge to the finish line led to a photofinish, with the result being declared the closest ever finish in a Superbike race. Michel crossed the line a mere four thousandths of a second after Haslam, with Haga following less than a second behind to snatch the third spot on the podium.Race 2 began in exactly the same way as the first, with Haslam, Fabrizio and Haga again off the line quickest to take an immediate lead. Haslam’s team-mate Sylvain Guintoli soon joined the fray, as did Carlos Checa mid-race, and a five-way battle for supremacy ensued. Nori, still suffering after the earlier crash, could not keep pace with the other four but held fifth position, taking home important points in the process. Checa, on board Althea Racing’s Ducati 1198, waited until the last lap before passing both Fabrizio and Haslam to take the lead, leaving the Italian and the Briton to battle it out for second.A very strong start for the Ducati Xerox Team as far as the championship standings are concerned, Michel in second position with 36 points, Nori fourth with 27 and their combined performances today putting Ducati in joint first place with Suzuki in the manufacturers classification.Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 2nd , Race 2 -3rd)

“I had a great battle with Leon in Race 1. In the last four laps I tried to understand where I could attempt to get past him but it wasn’t easy so I pushed on right to the finish line and, to tell the truth, I thought I’d done enough! Leon and I were right there together as we crossed the line, and on the big screen I could see my wife celebrating in the box – but the result was decided by the photofinish and I had to settle for 20 points this time. The great thing about the Superbike championship however is that there are two races…. My team did not make any changes to the bike before the second race and I was again able to make a good start but it was a very difficult race. I stayed there with the leading pack but I realized it would be very hard to win, and in the last four laps it became more difficult to fight. I am very happy with today’s results, which put me in second place on the leaderboard after round 1. It will be a very long and challenging season but we’ve made a good start today.”Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 3rd , Race 2 – 5th)

“My result in Race 1 was really good as far as I’m concerned as I had had a crash during the warm-up and suffered from a bit of arm-pump during the race. I was confident that I could make a good start from 10th position and I did so and then I tried to keep up with Michel and Leon but my arm led me to make a few small mistakes. Anyway I really enjoyed the race and the points I made in the race are definitely a good start for the championship. In the second race my arm played up more and it became harder to brake, I felt very tired physically. But all in all, with regard to the classification and bearing in mind this morning’s accident, it didn’t go too badly; I finished third and fifth and we take home some good points.”

By Press Release