WSB : Pitt and Haga make a massive turnaround
Round: 3 - Spain
Date: 23 April 2005
Yamaha Motor Italia riders Andrew Pitt and Noriyuki Haga will start tomorrow's
round three of the Superbike World Championship from the second and third rows
of the grid after the team made major changes to the set up of their YZF-R1s.
After ending Friday in 21st and 24th places respectively, the team mechanics
changed the settings if their R1s - allowing the riders to lap comfortably one
and a half seconds a lap quicker to qualify them for the afternoon superpole
session in 12th and 14th place respectively. Both riders were able to further
improve their grid positions in the one-lap showdown, with Haga posting a
1:37.031 to take 10th and Pitt just missing out on the front row after clocking
a weekend best of 1:36.558 , good enough for a fifth place start in tomorrow's
race at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
Sandwiched between Pitt and Haga will be Yamaha Motor France's Norick Abe. The
Spanish-based Japanese star has been one of the most consistent riders
throughout the weekend and, despite losing two positions on his superpole lap,
was able to retain a second row start.
In a second qualifying session that saw a number of riders make considerable
progress, wild-card David Checa, riding for the Yamaha GMT94 team with whom he
won the Le Mans 24-hour race last weekend, was another to make stunning
overnight progress. The Spaniard improved his Friday time by over two seconds to
go from 27th in the overnight standings to qualify for superpole in 11th place,
a position he maintained after his superpole lap. One of Checa's team-mates at
Le Mans, Sebastien Gimbert had a superpole to forget though, taking his Yamaha
Motor France R1 to 15th, a drop of five places on his position going into
Championship leader Troy Corser (Suzuki) grabbed pole with a 1:35.666 lap time.
Completing the front row are Karl Muggeridge (Honda), Max Neukirchner (Honda)
and Chris Walker (Kawasaki).
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"You've got to be happy with that after yesterday! When I come into the garage I
was looking at the screen to see if I could stay on the front two rows. As it
was I almost made it to the front row, but I can't be too upset at missing out
after the progress we made. Straight from the first session it was obvious that
we made a massive change in the right direction and I can leave the circuit in a
very different mood from yesterday."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)
"I am happy with sixth because superpole is still new to me, so doing a 36 on my
own is good. I know that I can get some good starts from the second row and, if
I can do that, I am confident that I will be able to battle with the top riders."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"This is the first time I have had a one lap superpole since Magny Cours so I
think that I did not quite push hard enough. We made some big improvements today
but we are hoping to try a few more things in the morning warm up to improve the
feeling further. This is a track that I like, so if we can make the feeling
better and the start is good then we should be able to fight."
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France)
"This has been a tough weekend for me. Not only am I still feeling the effects
of Le Mans last weekend, I am also suffering from a bad cold. Tonight I will try
to get as much rest as possible and hope that I am in a better condition
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator, Yamaha Motor Italia)
"We did a good job today, but we know that the races are still going to be very
tough. We tried some things yesterday and these did not work, but when we went
back to the settings we found at the test here we were immediately quick. Andrew
did a good job to come from 24th yesterday and although Noriyuki still has to
have a little better feeling we know that he is a real race animal who is always
capable of doing something special when it matters."
Round: 3 - Spain
Circuit Length: 4005m
Lap Record: 1' 35.007 (Neil Hodgson, 2003)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 34.633 (Neil Hodgson, 2003)
Date: 23 April 2005
Session 2 :
Pos.Rider Manufacturer Nat. Superpole
1 T. Corser Suzuki AUS 1'35.954 1'35.666 1'35.676
2 C. Vermeulen Honda AUS 1'37.878 1'36.205 1'36.125
3 R. Laconi Ducati FRA 1'37.566 1'36.279 1'36.356
4 M. Neukirchner Honda GER 1'37.127 1'36.177 1'36.447
5 A. Pitt Yamaha AUS 1'38.291 1'36.714 1'36.558
6 K. Muggeridge Honda AUS 1'37.146 1'36.143 1'36.565
7 C. Walker Kawasaki GBR 1'36.731 1'36.194 1'36.847
8 N. Abe Yamaha JPN 1'37.520 1'36.241 1'36.862
9 Y. Kagayama Suzuki JPN 1'37.159 1'36.481 1'36.875
10 N. Haga Yamaha JPN 1'38.158 1'36.850 1'37.031
11 D. Checa Yamaha ESP 1'38.700 1'36.626 1'37.122
12 P. Chili Honda ITA 1'37.003 1'36.490 1'37.200
13 L. Lanzi Ducati ITA 1'37.465 1'37.024 1'37.297
14 S. Martin Petronas AUS 1'37.332 1'37.145 1'37.388
15 S. Gimbert Yamaha FRA 1'37.763 1'36.589 1'38.203
Front row for Curtain
Cooler conditions and an improved bike set-up allowed Yamaha Motor Germany's
riders to improve their overnight times and grid positions in Valencia, with
Kevin Curtain qualifying his YZF-R6 on the front row with a best time of 1:39.083.
With his squad able to improve the machine settings overnight, the experienced
Australian was able to cut almost a full-second from his Friday time to move up
one place from fifth to fourth.
Team-mate Broc Parkes was another improver and will start from the second row of
the grid, in sixth place. Like Curtain, Parkes was able to find improved rear
suspension settings to help him find the best part of a second and go into
tomorrow's race with increased confidence.
Sebastien Charpentier will start from pole position despite being unable to
better his Friday time of 1:38.352. Between him and Curtain on the front row
will be fellow Honda riders Katsuaki Fujiwara and Fabien Foret.
Meanwhile Yamaha Motor Germany's FIM Superstock Cup riders were impressive
during qualifying for tomorrow's opening round with 21-year-old Belgian Didier
van Keymeulen taking pole position from Turkish team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu. R1
riders will occupy eight of the first 10 grid positions in tomorrow's race, with
local rider Alex Martinez fourth on his Yamaha and Massimo Roccoli fourth on the
Lorenzini by Leoni R1.
Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany)
"It's basically the same situation as Phillip Island, in that we're going into
the Sunday without having decided on a race tyre yet. We've made a lot of
progress today but because we didn't find the set-up yesterday we'll be going
into the Sunday as if we are a day behind schedule. Rear grip is always the
factor here and we have two tyre choices. It's going to have to be a bit of a
gamble as the conditions in the morning warm-up will not be the same as for the
race: even if it was we still couldn't test both tyres in the 12 or so laps
we'll get. I am hoping that it is hot tomorrow and that should make up my mind
to go for the harder compound, although I will have to take it easy as that one
doesn't have as much side grip."
Broc Parkes (Yamaha Motor Germany)
"It went better today and I'm only a second off Charpentier, even though I never
had a lap where I thought I was really on it. The rear was our problem yesterday
but that was much better today. We can get a good result tomorrow but you never
know how it's going to go around here. The grip levels are constantly changing
and that makes it hard to predict how your tyre wear is going to be. If I can
get a good start and our tyre lasts the distance then I will have a good chance."
Terrell Thien (Team Manager, Yamaha Motor Germany)
"We can go to bed a lot happier tonight. We made good improvements with both
guys although their different riding styles means that what works with one guy
doesn't always work with the other. I think we can get a good result tomorrow,
although this is a race that can come down to tyres. For the front our choice is
clear, but for the rear we have two options. With one tyre we can definitely go
fast early on, although it could well drop off later in the race. The other
option is likely to last the distance but won't have as much outright grip. It's
a choice we have to make after the morning warm-up."