Published on 12 May 2012 by Toni M.
Tom Sykes took his fourth Superpole of the season at Donington Park, while Leon Haslam was right behind him and they were the only two riders to go under the 1.28 barrier, but in tomorrow’s races - if it stays dry - and on race tires it will be a very close battle and we actually might see a factory BMW on the top podium for the first time.
Here’s what some of the riders had to say after today’s Superpole session:
Tom Sykes - 1st
“I am looking forward to tomorrow and we can use any rear tyre. It is just a matter of how we feel, what the conditions are and we will take it from there. The track here feels bumpier this year, some of the white lines are greasy, and it feels like more of a challenge. At the start of the weekend we had quite a harsh feeling with the set-up on the bike but we have improved it. You have to get every last bit out of the motorcycle. I was missing a bit of feeling but we kept working in Superpole 1 and 2, making some very small changes and finally in Superpole 3 those changes made all the difference. Small things make a difference at this level. I’m confident with the race set-up and hopefully we can have some good consistent weather to put on a good show for spectators. It was also nice to get the pole award from Roger Burnett who scored the first ever SBK pole right here at Donington. Twenty-five years on it’s happened to me!”
Leon Haslam - 2nd
“I am really happy to be on the front row at my home race! A big thank you to my team. In Superpole 1, we had a small issue with the bike. After fixing that, we put on a qualifying tyre. Then in Superpole 2, I clocked a new best lap on race tyres and was on P1. In Superpole 3, we decided to use the qualifying tyre right at the end, but Tom was quicker. He keeps going and getting his pole positions! In general, the race tyres were working really well, but we were struggling a bit with the qualifying tyres. The times are very close and I think it is going to be an exciting race. There are a lot of riders who can be fast and for sure racing is always close at Donington. We have been working quite hard on race set-up and are pretty consistent. Now we have to see what the weather does but at the moment I’m pretty happy. ”
Marco Melandri - 3rd
“I am very happy. The team and the people back at the BMW Motorrad factory did a great job. To be on the front row again in a dry Superpole here at Donington, a completely different track to Monza, is very important for us. It is great to be back after the issues we had yesterday. Today, I was happy with the race tyre and I felt good. I kept the qualifying tyres for the last Superpole but unfortunately they were not working perfectly; I had some chattering with them although the time was not too bad. Thank you to my team for the good work they did. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow. I will try to be on the podium.”
Max Biaggi - 4th
“Compared to Friday we have definitely improved, but there is still something missing because we are still struggling too hard to get everything to fall into place. The others are ahead of us. They’ve demonstrated speed on the fast lap and good race pace again today. In order to keep up with them we need better management of the bike which will allow me to be quicker and more consistent right from the start: if we want to be in it to the end, we cannot afford to lose contact with the front runners.”
Jonathan Rea - 6th
Firstly, we achieved our target which was to make Superpole 3, and the bike’s still working really well. I’m having some problems with the wheelie control on the straights and some aggressive power. We’ll try to smooth that off for tomorrow but, at the moment, the race looks a little strange because everyone’s found a little bit of pace with the softer tyre, which is quite fast. We’ve had one looking pretty good after some distance and one looking terrible so we need to evaluate the risk to go with that one, or run with the harder tyre, which is a lot slower, but we know it’ll complete the race in good shape. The bike’s working a lot better than last year so we’re definitely making progress with the CBR and the whole team is working well.
Leon Camier - 7th
“That was pretty close to getting our first front-row start of the year and I am a little disappointed that I didn’t quite manage it. It’s been good to put in a decent number of laps and because of that we’ve been able to improve the bike and the electronics. I did a long stint on a hard tyre and set some good and consistent lap times. Although the front row of the grid would’ve been great, as long as I make good starts, I expect to be mixing it with the leaders going into turn one.”
Carlos Checa - 9th
“We had tried the qualifying tyre at the start of the second Superpole phase but when I saw that I needed to go out again, I opted for the race tyre. I thought I’d be able to make a low 1m28. I gave it all I had but it seemed like I didn’t have the same level of grip that I had had in the morning, and I couldn’t do quite enough. Anyway, it went like that and tomorrow I’ll need to make a really strong start.”
Eugene Laverty - 12th
“We struggled once again in Superpole. We had some difficulties in all the sessions, but in the last free practice we made significant progress with some changes to the bike’s set-up. Unfortunately the soft qualifier caused some annoying chattering that created quite a few problems for me. We’ll start from the third row, but I’m encouraged by the fact that I’ve got a good race pace even after the tyre starts to wear,” he said.
Davide Giugliano - 13th
“In the morning things were going ok but then in Superpole, with the race tyre, I wasn’t able to put together a lap like I had been doing in the morning. Perhaps I was a little on edge, I don’t know, but it’s a shame because I missed out on phase two by just a tenth of a second. We need to make a strong start tomorrow, which won’t be easy from the fourth row but I’ll do my best.”
Hiroshi Aoyama - 17th
This morning we weren’t able to improve and the time between me and Berger was very close but, unfortunately, he made it to Superpole and I did not, so I am very disappointed. We have problems in quite a lot of areas, which I hope we can improve for tomorrow’s races. It’s a pity because we started with quite a good feeling on the first day, but today the others kept improving and we were not able to. I can’t push in the areas I want to and it’s quite difficult to pass other riders here, but I’ll do my best in the races and see what happens.
Loris Baz - 18th
“I think things have gone quite well so far and step by step I have been learning the bike. It took some time to get a good feeling on the Superbike, especially from the front, but I found it today. Qualifying went well, I think. I was 18th and only 1.5 seconds from the fastest lap after combined qualifying, so I think that is really good for my first time at a race on the bike. In the final free session I matched my fastest time from the morning qualifying session and then we put on a harder rear tyre, but I crashed in the last corner. That is a shame as I feel I could have improved my best time again in that session. I have no objective for raceday, if I finish 20th I will be happy and if I finish 15th or better I will be really happy!”
Peter Hickman - 19th
“Of course I am disappointed not to get into Superpole, but I always knew it would be a tough ask. I am still learning how the FIXI Crescent Suzuki behaves and each time I get on it my experience grows. I’m really happy with everything and I’m looking forward to racing against the top guys in the Championship. I generally make good starts, so I will do my best tomorrow to make up some places early on and see what happens as the race progresses.”