The following is from Kawasaki...Parkes Into New Look Superpole At First AttemptWSBK, Phillip Island, Australia, 28 February 2009Broc Parkes secured a starting slot in the new format of Superpole qualifying and will start Sunday's two 22-lap World Superbike races from row four of the grid.
Parkes Into New Look Superpole At First Attempt
After finishing regulation qualifying in 20th place on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, Parkes then successfully passed through the first phase of Superpole elimination, but was unable to use his qualifying tyres to best effect in the second session, and had to settle for 16th on the grid. This means he will start from row four for Sunday's pair of 22-lap Superbike races.Makoto Tamada, suffering set-up problems as he went for his quickest time, was unable to improve his qualifying pace from Friday's first session, and now starts the races from 22nd on a grid of 28 riders.Parkes enjoyed his return to real Superbike racing, particularly at his home racetrack, and although he was hungry for a higher starting place, he achieved the standard he had set himself before this race weekend began.The level of competition in 2009 has already proved to be every bit as tough as was expected, with the regulation qualifying sessions putting at least one rider from each of the seven competing manufacturers inside the top 20. Only 0.943 seconds covered all the riders from provisional pole to 20th place before Superpole began.The new Superpole qualifying format, split into three periods of track action, sees the 20 fastest riders then being thinned down to 16 after session one, then eight after session two - with the final eight riders chasing the Superpole win itself. The new system was voted a success by most who took part in it, with pole finally going to new WSB American star Ben Spies.Broc Parkes: "When we came here after testing we had an idea of where we would finish in qualifying, and we have reached it. I was pleased to have made Superpole first time in my return to the Superpole class and even more pleased to make it into the second section of Superpole. We didn't make the improvements we wanted to when we used qualifiers, but for my first qualifying experience back in this class it wasn't too bad. It's incredibly close this year with so many riders covered by only a second."Makoto Tamada: "I wanted to finish higher in qualifying of course, but we were having some problems with stability and corner entry. We need to improve set-up to stop running wide in corners, and to let the bike turn into corners more easily. Under braking the bike is good. We have more things to test for tomorrow in warm-up and I am sure we can improve things for the races."The following is from Ducati...Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga participated in the restyled Superpole for the very first time this afternoon at Phillip Island. The knock-out format sees three twelve-minute sessions in which 20 riders are reduced to 16 and then to 8 before the final 8 play for the places on the front two rows of the grid. Noriyuki progressed to the second session in which he recorded the thirteenth fastest time, thus establishing his place on the fourth row. Team-mate Michel proceeded on to the final session, to achieve fifth place on tomorrow's grid.During second qualifying in the morning, the fastest twenty riders, all of whom thus progressed to Superpole, were all within a second of each other, emphasising just how close a battle the 2009 Superbike championship is going to prove to be! Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki and Michel finished in fourth and sixth place in the morning, to qualify comfortable for all three Superpole sessions. Both riders have proved fast all weekend and are satisfied that they are on the pace for tomorrow's races.The Superpole trophies were presented this afternoon by reigning World Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss, who took both the Rider's and Constructor's titles with the Ducati Xerox Team in 2008.Michel Fabrizio 1m31.8s"I hoped to be able to go faster in the third Superpole but unfortunately, again due to tyre-wear, it was not an achievable goal. I can however be satisfied that we have the necessary race pace even if I wont be starting from the front row as I wished. We have worked hard all weekend and I have been consistently fast up until now so I am still confident for tomorrow's races."Noriyuki Haga 1m31.9s"Unfortunately the new Superpole proved a little difficult for us, and perhaps we didn't have the right tactics today. This new format means teams have to have tactics and there is more of a gamble. I would have liked to be faster of course and apologise to the fans that I won't be further forward on the grid but anyway, at least I don't go into tomorrow under great pressure, as I would have been if I had made pole! I am already thinking about my game plan for the races. We know we have been fast in all the sessions so far, we are comfortable with the race setting and we have pretty much decided with regard to the tyre to use for tomorrow's races. I will give 500% and I will go out there and do my best!"The following is from Suzuki...The new three -session Superpole system was in action for the first time at today's World Superbike opening round at Phillip Island in Australia and caused a few upsets in the finishing order.With just two qualifying tyres available for the three sessions, it meant that deciding which qualifying tyre to use and when to use it was a bit of a lottery.
A problem with the rear end sliding spoilt Alstare Suzuki's Max Neukirchner's chance of advancement into the final Superpole and Yukio Kagayama was also unable to go further.American Ben Spies (Yamaha) ended Superpole 1 with the fastest lap, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) second, Jonathan Rea (Honda) third and Jakob Smrz (Ducati) fourth.Yukio Kagayama - 11th, 1:31.867:"Today I had many problems with rear grip . We tried to change the balance of the bike for race tyres this morning and during the afternoon free practice, but there was no real improvement, so I am not so happy with the race tyres set-up. This Superpole is new, so we all have to try and understand how it works and what is the best thing to do at the right time. At the moment I think it is a bit of a gamble but we have to try to work it out. I think this track is very difficult for race and qualifying tyres, but I hope I can still make some good results tomorrow."Max Neukirchner - 14th, 1:31.916:"I was very angry when I saw that I was only 14th in the second Superpole session. We have improved the bike, step-by-step from yesterday and I think that our bike will be OK for a long run. I'm happy with the race set-up and now I need a couple of good starts and hopefully some good races."The following is from BMW...The new Superpole system ended in disappointment for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Troy Corser and Ruben
Xaus and, as a result, they will now start from the fifth row of the grid for tomorrow's opening round of this year's Superbike
World Championship. Two qualifying tyres were available for each rider in the Superpole 1, 2 and 3 and, in view of Troy's
fifth quickest time in normal qualifying, the team elected not to use a qualifier in Superpole 1. The gamble appeared to be
working until the final few minutes of the session, when some other riders went faster and Troy ended 17th - and out of
Superpole 2. Ruben also didn't manage to qualify for Superpole 2, due to a small tyre misunderstanding, but hopefully the
races tomorrow will end positively for him and team mate Troy.Troy - 17th, 1:32.843
I don't really like this new Superpole system because, at the end of the day, the rider who gets pole position is not
necessarily the fastest rider. We thought that because I had done the fifth quickest time in regular qualifying, we didn't need
to use one of our two qualifiers in the (three) Superpole sessions. So I went out in Superpole 1 on race rubber and lost out
on going into Superpole 2, by just one place. It's a bit of a shame, because now I will have to start the races tomorrow from
the fifth row of the grid and that is not going to be easy at all.Obviously, I'm going to try my hardest, but it's a pity that a new Superpole system has ruined what would've normally been
a place on the second row of the grid and that would've been just reward for all the hard work the team has put in. But
strange results have happened in the past, so who knows what will take place tomorrow.Ruben - 19th, 1:33.152
I think that there may have been a small misunderstanding about what tyres to use in Superpole 1 and so we paid the
penalty for that small mistake. But just like our team, Superpole is a new system this year and we are all going to have to
understand it and play it right. It is just another part of our learning process and something we have to go through, but we'll
manage it for sure. It's not nice to be on the fifth row, but this is not a bad track for overtaking and slipstreaming, so we
shall see what happens tomorrow.Rainer Baeumel (Team manager)
Before we entered this hard project, we knew that we would have a lot to learn, and today was proof. It was a shame that
Troy didn't get into Superpole 2, because we were all sure that he would've got on to at the second row of the grid. But
that's racing and we just have to accept and try and work hard for the results tomorrow. For sure, it's going to be a hard day
for both the riders, but I hope that we can leave Phillip Island with some good results.The following is from In Front Sports...
Texan WSBK rookie Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) powered to the first Superpole win of the season in an exciting opening round session at Phillip Island in Australia. The 24 year-old took the top slot on his YZF R1 machine with a time of 1 minute 31.069 seconds. In the new ‘knock-out' formula, Italian Max Biaggi scored a second place grid slot, his best ever performance in Superpole, on the brand new Aprilia, the Italian manufacturer returning to Superbike after a seven-year break. The front row of the grid is completed by Britain's Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Jakub Smrz of the Czech Republic, top Ducati rider on a private Guandalini machine.Spies, who had never even seen the Australian circuit before last week, set the first pole of his career in his first-ever WSBK race: "There was a lot of pressure on me today but first congratulations to these guys, I know how fast the lap time was and we all did a great job. The Superpole was really good, there was a lot of anticipation, a lot of nerves inside the pit box to get the first pole of the year. It's going to be hard tomorrow, with 7 or 8 guys up front and the real race will start 8 laps from the end. Luckily we have a good starting spot, that's all that matters and hopefully we can be there at the end. Just like Biaggi said, I was very surprised at how many people started doing 31s in the second session, we really had to grit our teeth in the last one and put together a good lap."Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) commented : "It's a big sensation for me to come back after so many years to Aprilia with this new project, the bike is good already. We still have to see which is the best way to go but for now qualifying was very good and exciting . I don't know about race pace for tomorrow but this is an encouraging start. When I saw everyone going 31s, I thought ‘wow, that is fast'. I had some trouble in the free practice before qualifying, we swapped bikes and it was not my favourite one but we made a great job."Jonathan Rea, who will be racing in only his second WSBK event tomorrow, declared : "Superbike for me is getting more and more exciting all the time, a big thanks to the team for helping me make the transition from Supersport so easy. I've got a lot of learning to do but every time I jump on the bike it's getting better. The new structure of Superpole was really exciting, with everyone in the box thinking should I go or should I stay, but lucky for us we used the first qualifier in the second session and got into the top 8. I saw Ben's lap time in the session before and it left me with a 31.3 with one qualifier left. We made a little mistake in the last run but I don't think we can go much faster than that."Jakub Smrz was also delighted with his Superpole performance: "For us it is a very good start to the season because we didn't test here like the other guys. Now I am very pleased with the bike especially because this morning we had some small problems, then in Superpole everything went better. It's very nice to be ahead of the factory Ducatis but it's only the start of the season and what is most important is to get a good result in the race."The exciting new Superpole formula saw the early elimination of four of the top 20 riders (Corser, Rolfo, Xaus and Hill). The two BMWs, which had performed well until then, were excluded after a conservative choice of tyre. The second run saw the elimination of Nakano, Kiyonari, Kagayama, Sykes, Haga, Neukirchner, Byrne and Parkes, with Ducati Xerox's Noriyuki Haga the prize scalp.Rea and Smrz headed the new generation of Superbike riders, the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland the best Honda in the timesheets, while his team-mate Carlos Checa from Spain also looks promising in seventh place. Row 2 will be made up of Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), Checa and Régis Laconi (DFX Ducati), while Haga faces an uphill struggle in the two races as he has to start from the fourth row of the grid.