After a long summer break, the World Superbike Championship is back in full swing at the Nurburgring GP-Strecke circuit. After rain drenched the first practice on Friday, today was dry, allowing the riders to finally get down to business. Once the track was dry, Xerox Ducati lead rider and championship leader Nori Haga looked to be in excellent form after the injuries he suffered at the Donington round back in June, grabbing the Superpole from Hanspree Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea, who had been leading both wet and dry practice sessions leading up to the three Superpole qualifying sessions. Stiggy Honda’s Leon Haslam qualified in third position, with Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio on the final front row position in fourth.
"It's been good to get back into things yesterday and today,” said a satisfied Haga. “Also I did my best lap in Superpole. The bike is feeling really good and I like this track, but it's my first time here with Ducati so this is a good result. I needed a result like this for the championship battle."
Jonathan Rea will be a contender...
Jonathan Rea will be a contender for the win(s) at the Nurburgring after running strongly in all the practice and qualifying sessions.
Rea was still confident despite getting ousted from the top spot. "I put a pretty good lap in at the start and thought it was enough so I rolled off a bit, but all credit to Nori, that was a really good lap,” said the Irishman. “The bike's working really well here, I'm glad the guys didn't fall asleep on holiday during the summer break! We've come back with some development parts on the bike. I really love this circuit, but I can sleep solid tonight and look forward to things tomorrow."
Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam...
Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam shrugged off his recent struggles to qualify third at the Nurburgring.
Haslam was glad to have a good result after struggling for a good portion of the season. "We've had a tough mid-season and the last race at Brno wasn't one of the best so to bounce back after the break with a front row start—I've only had one this year—is really good. I've really got to grips with this new circuit, which I've never been to, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Xerox Ducati's Michel Fabrizion...
Xerox Ducati's Michel Fabrizion was a bit frustrated at qualifying fourth at the Nurburgring.
"I'm not particularly satisfied with fourth position on the grid,” said a frustrated Fabrizio. “It was a bit difficult because we made some changes to the bike in the afternoon session and were only able to find the right set-up in the second Superpole run. But it's OK, the others are looking really strong, even the two guys next to me on the grid, so it'll be a good battle tomorrow."
A crash in the second practice...
A crash in the second practice session cost Spies valuable time to get his bike setup dialed in, and he ended up qualifying an uncharacteristic fifth.
After languishing outside the top ten for most of the first wet practice session, Ben Spies improved dramatically as the day went on and managed to finish the session in second position, less than one tenth of a second from leader Haga. The afternoon’s second practice was a frustrating one, as a small crash at a difficult to access section of the circuit meant Spies lost over 20 minutes of valuable track time returning to the pit, leaving him with a less than perfect set up for the subsequent Superpole sessions. He made it through all three sessions, using a qualifying tire in the second and third heats and will start tomorrow on the second row of the grid in fifth position. “I didn’t do us any favors by falling in the second practice and missing out on valuable track time,” said Spies, “so we’re still looking for the right set up. We seem to be struggling a bit for grip on the bumpy sections and that’s what we’re trying to deal with. Combine that with the rain when we arrived and the lost time in free practice means we’ve only really had an hour of dry time here to find our set up. We’ve got the warm up and two races to figure it out so we’re on it.”
FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS:
- 1. Nori Haga (JPN) Ducati 1:55.489
- 2. Jonathan Rea (IRL) Honda 1:55.749
- 3. Leon Haslam (UK) Honda 1:55.776
- 4. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1:55.927
- 5. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:55.938
- 6. Troy Corser (AUS) BMW 1:56.296
- 7. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1:56.440
- 8. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda 1:56.699
- 9. Tom Sykes (UK) Yamaha 1:56.406
- 10. Shane Byrne (UK) Ducati 1:56.663