Hopkins scores season-best 11th at Assen

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Crescent FIXI Suzuki’s John Hopkins battled changeable weather, red flags, crashes and treacherous racing conditions at yesterday’s third round of the World Superbike Championship at the TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands to record his best finish of the season so far.

Hopkins and the rest of the field had to make a difficult choice at the start of the second race as a damp but drying track was declared wet for the race. Hopkins and his crew made a decision to use the intermediate tires in the unpredictable conditions, but unfortunately the track started to dry quickly and the threatened rain never materialized, leaving Hopkins to battle on with a lack of feel and confidence in the tires and try to get the best result possible. He brought his machine home in 11th place to take his best result so far this season and obtain valuable data for the team to work on.

In the first race Hopkins was well placed to battle for a top-six finish as the race reached just over half-way distance, but a sudden and torrential rainstorm caused the race to be red-flagged. The re-started race was a nine-lap contest in the treacherous conditions, and Hopkins was one of many casualties as he slid off his GSX-R1000 after only one lap. Fortunately he was uninjured and was able to take his place in the second race.

Teammate Leon Camier had to pit in the initial race due to tire degradation and in the re-run second part of the race he was a victim of the conditions and crashed on the sighting lap and was unable to make the re-start. Luckily he didn’t cause any further damage to himself on top of the injuries he received from yesterday’s huge crash in practice. The second race was less eventful for Camier, as he too chose the intermediate tires and was also unable to put them to good use. He safely made his way to the finish without too many incidents to claim some valuable championship points and will now aim to get himself fully fit for the next event.

Yesterday’s first race was won by Efenbert Liberty Ducati’s Sylvain Guintoli, with victory in the second event going to Jonny Rea onboard his Factory Honda, despite the British rider sustaining a severe finger injury after crashing in the first race. Max Biaggi took over at the head of the championship standings after former leader Carlos Checa failed to score in the second race.

Crescent FIXI Suzuki will next be in action in Italy when the World Superbike paddock heads to Monza for the fourth round of the season on Sunday May 6.

John Hopkins – Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 11th:
“The conditions today were very difficult for all of us. I got a decent start in race one, but got bottled in at the first turn and lost a few positions. I began to make my way back up the field and was just getting in touch with the back of the lead group when the rain fell and the race was stopped. Up until then, I had settled into a good rhythm and was feeling confident at the thought of mixing it with the leaders. When the race began again in the wet, I just had no grip at all and, like many others, slipped off on the soaking track. We basically made the wrong decision regarding tire choice for race two and suffered because of that. It was a gamble that didn’t work and I was sliding around, both front and rear, but was determined to bring the bike home and get some points.”

Leon Camier – Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 14th:
“For race one, our settings were a bit of a gamble and my tire was shredded by nine laps. The race was then stopped a few laps later and we all went on full wets. I have no idea why I crashed on the warm-up lap because I was hardly touching the throttle. One minute I was OK and the next minute I was on my backside. We didn’t know what tires to use for race two because although the track was mostly dry, the clouds seemed to be on their way again. I wasn’t feeling too confident, so went for what seemed the safe choice – intermediates – but our choice didn’t work out because the track dried. The guys on slicks could lap so much quicker and I couldn’t do anything about it. All I could do was ride as best I could, not crash and get to the finish line.”

Jack Valentine – Team Manager:
“Today was a really tough day at the office, not helped by not having a good wet weather set-up. We never had big grip issues in the wet last year in BSB, but we were definitely missing mechanical grip here today and that’s a shame because both John and Leon usually go well in the wet. We made some changes to the bikes for race two but the track dried and our plans went out of the window. Both riders were a bit low on confidence after their earlier crashes so we went for the safe option of intermediate tires. If we’d chosen slicks, the story might have been very different, but we weren’t the only ones to get caught out.

“On a positive note, both John and Leon are happy with the chassis in dry conditions and the recent engine improvements by Yoshimura are definitely heading in the right direction. I’m also happy that John and Leon both brought their bikes home in the second race. It wasn’t easy but they knuckled down, crossed the finish line and scored some points.”

Assen WSB Race 1: 1. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 18’38.395: 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 18’41.028: 3. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 18’41.426: 4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 18’42.322: 5. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 18’42.769: DNF. John Hopkins (Crescent FIXI Suzuki). DNF. Leon Camier (Crescent FIXI Suzuki).

Assen WSB Race 2: 1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 36’45.936: 2. Guintoli 36’48.755: 3. Laverty 36’58.574: 4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 36’58.698: 5. Leon Haslam (BMW) 36’58.700: 11. John Hopkins (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 37’43.451. 14. Leon Camier (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 36’50.679.

World Championship Classification: 1. Biaggi 92: 2. Checa 91: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 79: 4. Guintoli 66: 5. Melandri 66. 17. Leon Camier (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 14. 21. John Hopkins (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 8.

Jonny Rea bounces back for a win at Assen

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Castrol Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea took his fourth win in the last six races at the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands in the second of yesterday’s two third-round World Superbike Championship races at the Dutch circuit.

The first outing was won by Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli after it was red flagged when rain began to fall on the 4.542km (2.8M) circuit. Rea had been well-placed in the dry first part, opting to run with a harder compound rear tire. In the restart, however, despite a strong start in the wet conditions, Rea crashed out of second place, injuring the ring finger on his right hand.

The tough 25 year old from Northern Ireland opted to start the second race, but was forced to sprint to the medical center for a pain-killing injection after his sighting lap to the grid.

Although the race had been declared wet, Rea’s crew opted to run with slick tires on the drying track, again with the harder rear compound. After dropping a few places in the early stages, Rea fought his way back to the front, taking a three-second victory over race one winner Guintoli.

Rea’s teammate, Hiroshi Aoyama, took points in both outings, despite starting from 21st on the grid. A lack of rear grip in race one prevented him finishing higher than 12th, and the option of intermediate tires took him to 13th in race two.

Jonathan Rea – DNF and 1st:
“I felt pretty confident with our strategy in race one and I was feeling quite comfortable when the rain arrived and stopped the race. The rain caught out a few people in the second part, including me, and I was just pushing a little too hard when the rear broke away. I’m so happy for the race two result though, especially for all the guys back at the workshop. We know that the package isn’t where it should be but they continue to push 100 percent. I’m so grateful for that, because nobody’s given up and we just try to make the bike better every race. I felt I had a little more oomph this weekend – I’ve struggled to get a really happy feeling with the front forks but we’re getting them to work now. The new one-bike rule also makes it difficult to develop the package, so to get a day here last week with two bikes was really useful. It gives me more confidence and we’re now operating in a new area with the bike. I’ve moved the bars and myself further back to get a bit more edge grip and I think the testament to all that is that we worked all weekend on a strategy with the harder rear. Nobody considered this for the race but, if race one had stayed dry today, I was sitting comfortably, in a good position, ready to pounce at the end. It’s really nice to give a little something back to the team, but we’ve still got work to do.”

Hiroshi Aoyama – 12th and 13th:
“It’s been quite a difficult weekend for us and we were struggling to get rear grip. We worked on it a lot but every time we found something better the conditions changed so we could not really improve the base feeling on the bike. Race one was my first on Pirelli rain tires so I went a little bit carefully and saw many riders start to crash. At the end I finished 12th which was not too bad, starting from 21ston the grid. In the second race we also started in damp conditions, so tire choice was critical. Carlos Checa gambled a bit with rain tires and we also gambled a bit, choosing a cut slick, but in the end there was no more rain so it was really conditions for slicks and we couldn’t find good pace. I’m a little bit sad for myself but, for the team, Johnny did a really good job, so I want to congratulate him. Next time, I’d like to fight for the podium and celebrate with him.”

Pieter Breddels, Technical Coordinator:
“Race one today started dry and with Jonathan we made a different tire choice to our rivals. He maintained a good pace but had some quite scary moments before the red flag came out. Part two was full wet and Johnny got a really good start but unfortunately crashed and hurt his hand. Hiroshi had no grip at the rear in the wet, so he did what he could. Race two was wet but it was drying quite fast so we were keeping a close eye on the weather, helped by our experience here. At the very, VERY last minute, we decided to go with slicks – in fact, we only just had time to get the front tire in on the grid. Jonathan held his nerve after dropping back a few places and he started to build his race, hunting down the other riders one by one. It ended in a spectacular victory, which everyone is really happy about. I think we need to try Jonathan’s settings with Hiroshi, who managed to speed up during the race, even though the tires were dropping off. But Jonathan showed again today that the Honda is still a winning package.”

Sykes leaves Assen third in the points

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Kawasaki World Superbike Team’s Tom Sykes could not fully capitalize on his pole position at the TT Circuit Assen yesterday, finding a technical problem in Race 1 and then finding himself on an incorrect tire choice in Race 2.

Tom Sykes leads from Marco Melandri and Maxime Berger

Tom’s fortunes in the two races at Assen were as changeable as the weather on race day. In the first running of Race 1, Sykes’ bike succumbed to a faulty water pump hose clip, and he was forced to retire from what had started out as a leading position. Rain returned just as Sykes was experiencing difficulties, and the race was stopped soon after he pulled out. He was unable to make the restarted wet race – run over nine laps – which awarded full points and was won by Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli.

In Race 2 – run over the full 22 laps – Sykes got the hole shot, but Effenbert Liberty’s Jakub Smrz had opted for an intermediate front tire and shot into the lead for a time. Tom found his hard rear tire option difficult to work with on a track surface that started out with some damp patches on it, but then rapidly dried out. He slowly dropped back; fighting all the way and ultimately rallying as his hard tire started to work better as the race progressed.

Sykes took ten points for his sixth place finish in Race 2, and in doing so remained in third place in the WSBK championship fight, only 13 points from new leader Factory Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, and 12 points behind Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, who no-scored in race two.

Team Pedercini Kawasaki’s rookie, former AMA Supersport standout Leonardo Mercado, scored a best Kawasaki finish in Race 1, tenth in fully wet conditions. He followed that up with another points scoring ride to 15th and another point in Race 2.

Pedercini’s David Salom was 13th in race one and 12th in race two. Mercado and Salom both have nine points, with Mercado ranked 19th and Salom 20th.

Tom Sykes:
“A tricky day but things could have been worse. It is just the way racing goes because we have had good pace all weekend with the ZX-10R and that pole time was very good from yesterday and I was confident o build on that. In race one we were able to do something from pole but unfortunately we had a small issue with the clip for the radiator hose. In race two with many things to consider, we chose a different tire in the rear, the hard one, and it looked like it cost us a lot of time and caused me a lot of issues. At the end of the day we brought the bike and there are many positives to take away. We have some very good circuits coming up for our bike.”

World Superbike Championship Round 3
TT Circuit Assen, The Netherlands

Race 1
1. Sylvain Guintoli, Ducati 1098R
2. Davide Giugliano, Ducati 1098R
3. Carlos Checa, Ducati 1098R
4. Max Biaggi, Aprilia RSV4
5. Eugene Laverty, Aprilia RSV4
6. Michel Fabrizio, BMW S1000 RR
7. Jakub Smrz, Ducati 1098R
8. Niccolò Canepa, Ducati 1098R
9. Marco Melandri, BMW S1000 RR
10. Leandro Mercado, Kawasaki ZX-10R
11. Maxime Berger, Ducati 1098R
12. Hiroshi Aoyama, Honda CBR 1000RR
13. David Salom, Kawasaki ZX-10R
14. Lorenzo Zanetti, Ducati 1098R
15. Mark Aitchison, BMW S1000 RR
RET Ayrton Badovini, BMW S1000 RR
RET Chaz Davies, Aprilia RSV4
RET Leon Haslam, BMW S1000 RR
RET John Hopkins, Suzuki GSX-R1000
RET Leon Camier, Suzuki GSX-R1000
RET Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR-1000RR
DNS Brett McCormick, Ducati 1098R
DNS Tom Sykes, Kawasaki ZX 10R
DNS Joan Lascorz, Kawasaki ZX-10R

Race 2
1. Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR1000RR
2. Sylvain Guintoli, Ducati 1098R
3. Eugene Laverty, Aprilia RSV4
4. Marco Melandri, BMW S1000 RR
5. Leon Haslam, BMW S1000 RR
6. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki ZX 10R
7. Ayrton Badovini, BMW S1000 RR
8. Max Biaggi, Aprilia RSV4
9. Davide Giugliano, Ducati 1098R
10. Michel Fabrizio, BMW S1000 RR
11. John Hopkins, Suzuki GSX-R1000
12. David Salom, Kawasaki ZX-10R
13. Hiroshi Aoyama, Honda CBR 1000RR
14. Leon Camier, Suzuki GSX-R1000
15. Leandro Mercado, Kawasaki ZX-10R
16. Mark Aitchison, BMW S1000 RR
17. Carlos Checa, Ducati 1098R
RET Lorenzo Zanetti, Ducati 1098R
RET Jakub Smrz, Ducati 1098R
RET Chaz Davies, Aprilia RSV4
RET Maxime Berger, Ducati 1098R
RET Brett McCormick, Ducati 1098R
RET Niccolò Canepa, Ducati 1098R
DNS Joan Lascorz, Kawasaki ZX-10R

Team Italia & the Ducati 1199 Panigale on the Superstock 1000 podium with Savadori and La Marra

April 22nd, 2012 No comments

Lorenzo Savadori

Despite the cold weather and wet track conditions, Team Italia FMI’s Lorenzo Savadori and Eddi La Marra wrapped up today’s FIM Superstock 1000 race at the TT Circuit Assen in the best way possible despite a race full of crashes and shortened due to oil on the track. The Italian riders both started from the second row but soon set the pace with La Marra leading and Savadori in fifth position, engaging in a thrilling battle with Barrier, Baroni and Baz.

In the front, the Barni Racing Team Italia duo took the new Ducati 1199 Panigale to the limit, without making mistakes despite the tricky conditions. Only Barrier managed to keep the pace of La Marra and Savadori. After taking over the lead, he tried to pull away but the two riders stayed within reach.

With four laps to go, the race was red-flagged due to the oil that Sandi’s bike spilled on the track, putting an early end to the three-way battle in the front.

Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati#32), 2nd, -0.732”:
“I knew I could do better than during qualifiers, and I posted fast laps since the beginning. I’m happy for this podium after the problems we had in Imola. The bike works well and we can still improve.”

Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati#47) 3rd, 0.823”:
“I got off a great start but then risked to highside a couple of times due to the damp track, which made me lose my rhythm. After I caught up with Barrier, I was faster and could have challenged for the victory. It’s unfortunate the race was red-flagged, but I’m satisfied with the podium.”

Cristiano Migliorati (FMI Technical Coordinator):“For the first time, both Team Italia riders are on the podium, which shows we’re doing a good job. I’m happy with their performance and the team’s work. We will play at home in the next couple of races (Monza and Misano), and we need to take full advantage of that to keep aiming at the top positions.”

FIM Cup Superstock1000 Standings:
1) Barrier (FRA) 50pt.; 2) Baz (FRA) 33pt.; 3) EddiLa Marra(ITA) 32pt.; 4) Lorenzo Savadori (ITA) 28pt.; 5) Reitenberger (GER) 24pt.

The next FIM Cup Superstock1000 race will be held in Monza, on May 6

ASBK News: Top End clean sweep for Waters

April 22nd, 2012 No comments

Team Suzuki rider Josh Waters scored a hat trick this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Northern Territory, qualifying on pole yesterday and winning both races today by a comfortable margin to secure his third consecutive win at the track and extend his QBE Insurance Australian Superbike Championship points lead.

He managed two red-flag restarts to lead both races into turn one and faced few challenges on the way to a pair of wins in front of a record crowd of more than 7,500 fans. Waters has won five of the six races contested since the ASBK series returned to Darwin in 2010.

While he was elated to secure the elusive triple, he said his focus was on the bigger picture and scoring good points for his championship tilt.

“It’s been a perfect weekend to be honest, I love the track and came here pretty confident but I didn’t think I’d have it this easy,” said Waters. “In terms of the championship, it’s great. It’s 51 points, and that’s the best I could have asked for.”

Waters was absent from last year’s West Australian round at Barbagallo Raceway and said he looked forward to carrying the momentum over for the next event in two weeks.

“I haven’t raced at Perth since 2004 but I went pretty well back then,” he continued. “I like the track and the bike is coming on really strong so I’m hoping I can go there and keep the ball rolling.”

The Superbike class runs combined with the lesser-modified Honda Australia Prostock class, in which Waters’ younger brother Nicholas competes. An end-of-season switch from the 600cc to the 1000cc class seems to be suiting the youngest of three sibling racers from Mildura, who beat a number of Superbikes home on his GAS Racing Honda.

“It’s awesome to be up with the Superbike guys, it’s just a pity I don’t have anything for them down the straights,” said Waters. “I’m always chasing Josh. He’s obviously the guy to beat and as brothers we’re pretty competitive. I’m on a bike that’s down on power so it will be tough but he sets a really good benchmark for me to chase.”

The brothers lead their respective classes – Superbike and Prostock – by considerable margins after today’s races.

In the premier class, Josh extended his lead over defending Superbike champion Glenn Allerton to 26 points, with Nicholas moving 23 points clear of Chas Hern in Prostock. Team Honda’s Wayne Maxwell scored two race podiums in a good recovery from his Phillip Island DNF to finish second for the round. Third overall was Brisbane-based rider Robert Bugden who paired an impressive second place in race 1 with a top-five finish in race 2. The Team Volvo Group Suzuki rider’s consistent run moves him into third in the championship, with Glenn Allerton holding down second on his BMW following fourth and second-place finishes today.

Triumph’s Mitchell Carr was another to score a clean sweep today, winning both Motul Australian Supersport races to move ahead of Josh Hook into the championship lead. Carr won the opening race by 4.8s and withstood the advance of the Honda-mounted Hook in the second to take the checkered flag by just 0.168s. He moves 11.5 points clear of Hook and a further 20.5 points clear of polesitter Glen Scott, who was impressive this weekend on his Yamaha.

Daniel Falzon was a comfortable winner in both of the day’s Suzuki Superstock class races, while Sam Clarke and Corey Turner shared Dunlop Superlites spoils.

The QBE Australian Superbike Championship returns to the track in a fortnight alongside the V8 Supercars at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE C’SHIP at Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin. Rd 2.

Race 1: Superbike: J Waters (Suzuki) 1, R Bugden (Suzuki) 2, W Maxwell (Honda) 3, G Allerton (BMW) 4, B Attard (Suzuki) 5, J Stauffer (Honda) 6, S Charlton (Suzuki) 7, N Waters (Honda) 8, B Henry (Suzuki) 9, C Hern (Suzuki).
Race 2: Superbike: J Waters (Suzuki) 1, W Maxwell (Honda) 2, G Allerton (BMW) 3, J Stauffer (Honda) 4, R Bugden (Suzuki) 5, B Attard (Suzuki) 6, S Charlton (Suzuki) 7, N Waters (Honda) 8, L Magee (BMW) 9, B Henry (Suzuki) 10.
Championship Points: J Waters (Suzuki) 97 pts 1, G Allerton (BMW) 71 pts 2, R Bugden (Suzuki) 69 pts 3, J Stauffer (Honda) 67 pts 4, W Maxwell (Honda) 63 pts 5, B Attard (Suzuki) 62 pts 6, B Henry (Suzuki) 55 pts 7, S Charlton (Suzuki) 43 pts 8, C Trounson (BMW) 26 pts 9, C McMillan (Honda) 24 pts 10.

Race 1: Supersport: M Carr (Triumph) 1, G Scott (Yamaha) 2, J Hook (Honda) 3, B Waters (Suzuki) 4, C Quinn (Yamaha) 5, L Day (Suzuki) 6, C Casella (Honda) 7, A Quinn (Yamaha) 8, A Senior (Honda) 9, M Levy (Suzuki) 10.
Race 2: Supersport: M Carr (Triumph) 1, J Hook (Honda) 2, G Scott (Yamaha) 3, B Waters (Suzuki) 4, C Quinn (Yamaha) 5, L Day (Suzuki) 6, A Senior (Honda) 7, C Casella (Honda) 8, M Levy (Suzuki) 9, A Quinn (Yamaha) 10.
Championship Points: M Carr (Triumph) 83.5 pts 1, J Hook (Honda) 72 pts 2, G Scott (Yamaha) 63 pts 3, B Waters (Suzuki) 60.5 pts 4, C Quinn (Yamaha) 56.5 pts 5, L Day (Suzuki) 52 pts 6, A Senior (Honda) 44.5pts 7, C Casella (Honda) 42 pts 8, A Quinn (Yamaha) 37.5 pts 9, R Taylor (Yamaha) 30.5 pts 10.

Fifth place for Checa, 19th for Giugliano on tomorrow’s WSBK grid at Assen

April 21st, 2012 No comments

Davide Giugliano

The third Superpole of the 2012 World Superbike Championship season took place this afternoon with varied conditions at the Netherlands’  TT Circuit Assen. Carlos Checa, championship leader after two rounds, qualified in fifth place for tomorrow’s races while his teammate Davide Giugliano will start from the fifth row, in 19th position.

As expected, this morning’s second qualifying session took place in the rain with a track temperature of just 4 degrees C (39 degrees F). Despite the difficult conditions, Giugliano made some fast laps right from the start, recording one of the fastest times of the first half of the session 2:01. Unfortunately, towards mid-session, the Althea Racing rider crashed, but was thankfully unhurt. It took time to repair the damage to the bike, and Giugliano was unable to return to the track.

Lap times began to fall in the final stages of the session when the rain stopped, but Checa wasn’t taking any risks, preferring to work on the setup, and recorded a best of 1:57. Yesterday’s dry qualifying times thus determined who would enter this afternoon’s Superpole, meaning that Checa qualified with no problems in fourth position while Giugliano unfortunately closed outside of the top sixteen. He will start from 19th position on tomorrow’s grid.

Superpole 1:
Today’s Superpole was declared wet despite the fact that the rain had stopped once more and the track was beginning to dry out again. Regulations dictate that a wet Superpole comprises two free sessions, each twenty minutes in length. Checa went out on slick tires, and by the end of the session had clocked a best time of 1:38.8, closing the first phase in third position and proceeding to the second phase without difficulty.

Superpole 2:
This time Checa took to the track first with a race tire and then on a qualifier. The times dropped dramatically in this second session, thanks to a quickly drying track. Checa recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.1, which assured him of fifth position on the grid for tomorrow’s races.

Carlos Checa:
“This weekend has been, let’s say, different to many others, in that we’ve seen almost everything from a weather point of view, and such variable conditions have prevented us from working well, as it’s not been really dry or really wet for any length of time. In these conditions it’s also difficult with only one bike, as we can no longer set up one for the dry and the other for the wet, and so we lose time. I can’t make any guesses for the races; the only thing I can say with certainty is that everything is entirely unpredictable here at Assen.”

Davide Giugliano:
“Let’s say that it didn’t go our way this morning. We hoped to be able to make a few laps in the dry, seeing as we didn’t manage to qualify for the Superpole during yesterday’s session. But the track only got worse during today’s session, and was neither completely wet nor totally dry. I’d say that we’re better prepared for a wet race tomorrow, as we’ve had less time to work in the dry, but I just hope that we have one or the other, wet or dry, rather than mixed conditions like today.”

Team Honda Racing on the front row for tomorrow’s ASBK races at Hidden Valley

April 21st, 2012 No comments

A very strong day of ASBK qualifying today for Team Honda Racing at Hidden Valleyplaces Wayne Maxwell in P2 and Jamie Stauffer in P3 on the grid for tomorrow’s Superbike races. Josh Hook will start from P3 on the grid in the Supersport category

Jamie Stauffer

Defying the rising heat of the Hidden Valley circuit, both Superbike riders performed well in the 2 Qualifying sessions with Stauffer recording his fastest lap time of 1:07.850 in Qualifying 1 and Maxwell a 1:08.033 in Qualifying 2 providing both Honda riders the opportunity to challenge for the Superpole point.

“It wasn’t the best Superpole lap ever for me; I probably didn’t attack quite as hard as was needed. However, I’m starting from P3 and that is the front row so it all comes down to tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the races tomorrow and going after two race wins.”

Maxwell’s Superpole lap time was 1:07.751, which was just 0.135 behind Waters, placing him in P2 on the grid. Stauffer will start from P3 after recording a flying lap time of 1:07.951, just 0.335 behind Superpole. The Superpole lap times suggest that tomorrow’s racing will be close in the Superbike category.

“I’m happy with the progression throughout the weekend so far. To be starting from second on the grid and to be so close to pole is great. We are still working through set-up, but I am confident with our race pace for tomorrow.”

In the 600 Supersport class, Team Honda’s Josh Hook has again shown that he is comfortable onboard his Honda CBR600RR by qualifying third in combined qualifying sessions and then recording the third-fastest lap time in Superpole with a lap time of 1:11.263. This was Hook’s second attempt at a flying Superpole lap, and he is looking forward to tomorrow’s races, starting from P3 on the grid.

“Superpole was tough, but it is only the second time I have done it, and I think the more you do it the more confidence you get so I’m happy to be on the front row for both races tomorrow. I’m feeling confident going into the races and I know I’ll be able to stick with front runners to challenge for the win.”

Waters maintains perfect Hidden Valley pole record

April 21st, 2012 No comments

Team Suzuki Australia‘s Josh Waters has continued his dominant run in Darwin, sealing pole position for tomorrow’s two 17-lap QBE Australian Superbike races at Hidden Valley. The result keeps Waters’ perfect run of pole positions alive, having secured the top grid position for three years running. The Victorian’s 1’07.616 lap was his fastest of the day as he used the earlier qualifying sessions to find the best setting for a flying lap.

Josh Waters

The championship leader is keeping the result in perspective, and won’t be satisfied until it is converted into race wins tomorrow.

He’s won three races out of four starts at Hidden Valley Raceway and is looking to extend his points lead in the premier class with another strong run tomorrow.

“You can’t really take too much out of Superpole,” said Waters. “It’s one lap where you’re absolutely committed to every corner and every inch of track. Our bike has pretty good race pace but I’m not getting ahead of myself. Over the full 17 laps a lead will be very hard to maintain. I rate every rider in this class and to get a win against them is always challenging. Tires played a big part in today’s results and I think a lot of guys have not showed just how quick they are.”

Waters takes a point for pole from today and is gunning for a maximum of 50 points from tomorrow’s races.

Sixth fastest on the timesheets, defending champion Glenn Allerton may be one who has snuck under the radar after punishing a rear tire for an incredible 26 laps over two sessions on his BMW.

“If I’d gotten the track position I wanted I’d be in the high sevens and would have ended up much quicker,” said Allerton. “There was lots of traffic out there and I just didn’t get the space I needed. The pace was generally slower this afternoon but I was the only one out there doing low 8’s on a second hand tire so I’m not really worried.”

The defending Australian Superbike Champion is just one of many aiming to end Waters’ run of results.

Fellow Suzuki rider Robbie Bugden set the pace during the day, claiming provisional pole after setting a quick lap early. Bugden retained the position for the afternoon session but couldn’t match it with his rivals over the course of one lap. He will start fourth, with the Team Honda machines of Wayne Maxwell and Jamie Stauffer splitting the Suzukis.

Yamaha convert Glenn Scott will start the Motul Supersport Championship races from pole after blitzing qualifying in the 600 class today. Scott held off the charge of Triumph’s Mitchell Carr who was unable to replicate his qualifying record pace today.

Josh Hook finished third fastest and a despondent Brodie Waters was fourth, setting up an enthralling front row battle between four manufacturers.

Lincoln Gilding was the runaway winner of the opening Superlites race while Daniel Falzon set a new race lap record on the way to winning the first Superstock outing.
Action resumes from 9am tomorrow.

ASBK Round 2, Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin, Northern Territory 
Qualifying Times:

Superbike Superpole: J Waters (Suzuki) 1m07.616s 1, W Maxwell (Honda) 1m07.751s 2, J Stauffer (Honda) 1m07.951s 3, R Bugden (Suzuki) 1m08.130s 4. Merged Qualifying: R Bugden (Suzuki) 1m07.787s 1, J Stauffer (Honda) 1m07.850s 2, J Waters (Suzuki) 1m07.870s 3, W Maxwell (Honda) 1m08.033s 4, B Attard (Suzuki) 1m08.377s 5, G Allerton (BMW) 1m08.390s 6, S Charlton (Suzuki) 1m08.485s 7, N Waters (Honda) 1m09.118s 8, B Henry (Suzuki) 1m09.438 9, C Trounson (BMW) 1m09.981s 10.

Supersport Superpole: G Scott (Yamaha) 1m10.561s 1, M Carr (Triumph) 1m10.677s 2, J Hook (Honda) 1m11.263s 3, B Waters (Suzuki) 1m11.470s 4. Merged Qualifying: G Scott (Yamaha) 1m10.382s 1, M Carr (Triumph) 1m10.443s 2, J Hook (Honda) 1m10.501s 3, B Waters (Suzuki) 1m10.814s 4, C Quinn (Yamaha) 1m11.124s 5, L Day (Suzuki) 1m11.884s 6, A Senior (Honda) 1m11.894s 7, R Taylor (Yamaha) 1m12.381s 8, S Lambert (Suzuki) 1m12.681s 9, C Casella (Honda) 1m12.744s 10

Yamaha Kicks Off 2012 Endurance World Championship with Bol d’Or Podium

April 19th, 2012 No comments

Monster Energy YART Team

The 76th edition of the Bol d’Or at the Magny Cours Circuit in Nevers, France signaled the start of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship last weekend. A strong Yamaha presence on the starting grid included proven race winners Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani (Monster Energy Yamaha YART) and David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive (Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube). YART rider Jerman took his slick-shod YZF-R1 to the limit in the final three hours of the race, battling the damp conditions and GMT94 to take a hard-fought podium spot with third. The timesheets revealed an impressive run from the Yamaha rider, running nearly four seconds a lap faster than the closest competitors at the end.

Three R1 teams where competing in the top five throughout the 24 hour race with the closing stages witnessing an intense battle between Monster Energy Yamaha and GMT94. Spanish entrants Yamalube Folch Endurance also put in a strong performance to finish fifth while GMT94, led by Christophe Guyot, eventually took fourth after losing some of their optimum racing speed.

In the Superstock class the Belgian Yamaha DG Sport Herock team with riders Didier Van Keymeulen, Alex Cudlin and Gianluca Vizziello finished just off the podium with a respectable fourth.

Mandy Kainz, Team Manager Monster Energy Yamaha YART:
“After a tough free practice with three crashes in just 22 minutes, we had to play it safe in qualifying. Our race set-up was good despite the limited efforts we could put in during pre-race sessions. The team did a great job building a completely fresh bike for the race and it worked faultlessly. The R1 performed magnificently, we had no issues during the 24 hours, that’s approximately 40 Superbike races in one so the reliability was great. But unfortunately we did lose a lot of time during pit stops because of issues with a new quick change system so we had to fight back on the track. We had to make up three laps in three hours to GMT94 and Igor was able to pass them just half an hour before the end of the race. We are really pleased with third and looking forward to the next races at Qatar and Suzuka.”

“In the final stages the team manager asked me to continue, so I pushed to the limit and got we got it,” said Igor Jerman, Monster Energy Yamaha YART.
“We were chasing for the podium for 22 hours,” continued team mate Gwen Giabbani. “Unfortunately we couldn’t fight for first and second position. We played a sort of Yo-Yo with GMT94. Just two hours before the end of the race everybody thought a podium spot was unreachable. Suddenly Igor struck like a genius and managed to get us on the podium.”
Third rider Steve Martin commented, “This third position feels like a victory for us. The weather conditions were tough; finally Igor went mad and very fast. I have to thank him for that.”

Christophe Guyot, Team Manager Yamaha GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube:
“We had a great race but couldn’t match the lap times as we had in qualifying. As a whole the race was encouraging for us and this is a positive result. Scoring very valuable fourth place points is a good start to the Championship. The team was flawless and the riders did an excellent job. Perfect pit stops allowed us to spend minimal amounts of time refueling and changing tires. Our new R1 confirmed the potential we saw in winter testing and the Michelin tires are competitive in all conditions. We’re certain that we’ll return to the podium soon.”

The next race in the series will be the Doha 8Hour in Qatar on June 10.

Team Honda Racing Head to the Top End for ASBK Round 2

April 19th, 2012 No comments

The Australian Superbike Championship is set to heat up this weekend with Round 2 being held at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. Team Honda Racing’s Jamie Stauffer, Josh Hook and Wayne Maxwell are ready to do battle, looking to secure maximum points this weekend.

Team Honda's Wayne Maxwell

The Top End always hosts an exciting event, and this weekend’s activities look to be no exception, with some ASBK riders arriving early to promote the series.

Wayne Maxwell spent the week acclimatizing to the intense heat of the Northern Territory and has taken time out to do radio interviews and visit a local elementary school where he spent some time with some very excited youngsters for Q & A sessions and photos.

The first round of the championship in February at Phillip Island was a successful one for Team Honda Racing. It was the first opportunity for Superbike riders Stauffer and Maxwell to test the all-new Honda CBR1000RR under race conditions, and both were impressed by the new model.

After one round, Stauffer is in third place in the championship, and Maxwell in eighth. Both are hungry to take the maximum points available this weekend at Hidden Valley to improve their standings.

Round 1, held in conjunction with the World Superbike event was also the first event with Team Honda Racing for #34 Josh Hook riding a 600 Supersport machine. The young rider exceeded expectations by taking the round honors in his category and has fit into the team extremely well. Hook will be the focus of much attention this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Having tested recently at Winton to fine tune the Honda CBR1000RR and the CBR600RR, Team Honda Racing could not be more ready for Round 2 of the Australian Superbike Championship. Practice today and Friday will be a good opportunity for the Hondas to re-acquaint themselves again with the Hidden Valley circuit ahead of qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday.