Donington Park (UK), Saturday 25 May 2013: a hard-fought Superpole this afternoon at Donington Park saw the Ducati Alstare men, Canepa, Checa and Badovini, qualify for tomorrow’s races in ninth, tenth and fourteenth position respectively.
Conditions were slightly warmer and much sunnier for second qualifying this morning, with a track temperature of 22˚C that allowed all three of Ducati Alstare’s flagbearers to work well and without interruption. Each of the riders dropped his times during the 45 minutes available, with each recording his fastest time in the final stages. All three qualified for this afternoon’s Superpole, in eleventh (Checa), thirteenth (Canepa) and fourteenth (Badovini) position.
Superpole 1: in the first Superpole phase and in good conditions all three riders made a first exit on race rubber before returning to the track on qualifying tyres. At the end of this first mini-session Canepa was eighth with a best time of 1’28.5 followed by Checa and Badovini, twelfth and fourteenth respectively. Badovini, suffering from grip problems, closed his Superpole here, and will line up on the fifth row of the race grid tomorrow.
Superpole 2: Checa was able to drop his time by more than half a second with respect to the first phase but despite this improvement he concluded the second phase in tenth position, which means that he will start from the fourth row tomorrow. Canepa meanwhile went straight out on the second qualifying tyre available to him, recording the seventh best time, enough to proceed to the third and final phase with a fastest lap time of 1’28.3.
Superpole 3 – having already used the two qualifiers, Canepa was back out on a race tyre and was able to record a best time of 1’29.3 which positioned him ninth at the session’s end. A small error during his fast lap meant that he couldn’t improve on row three of the grid, from where he will start tomorrow’s races.
Carlos Checa: “This afternoon we started with a different engine after a few issues yesterday and this morning. The Superpole didn’t go so well, it’s not an excuse but I came across some traffic and we had some difficulties that meant that I couldn’t reach the third phase. This evening we’ll work to try and make a few improvements regarding race pace and then we’ll see tomorrow. Today, compared to yesterday, my shoulder’s been hurting a bit – we have to see how I am tomorrow, after completing race distance. This is one of the more physical tracks so it won’t be easy but I’ll do my best.”
Ayrton Badovini: “We hoped to do a little better in Superpole and at least reach the second phase but it didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get on so well with the qualifier and I wasn’t able to make a clean lap. We had a few problems with grip and chattering, and hope to find some solutions this evening. We’ll have to see what we’re able to do tomorrow from the fifth row – of course it won’t be easy starting from that position but I’ll try hard to obtain two good results.”
Niccolò Canepa: ”Reaching Superpole 3 was already a good result considering that, as a wildcard, this is my first approach in Superbike with the new Panigale. But I’m sorry at the same time because I thought we could be a couple of positions further forward on the grid, but I made a mistake during my fast lap. I was pushing harder and went long. I’m confident as far as race pace is concerned and we should be able to do well tomorrow; I just need to concentrate on making a good start and will do what I can to stick with the others.”
Francis Batta, Team Manager: “I’m worried about Carlos’ shoulder and we’ll have to see what he is able to do tomorrow. I’m pleased with Niccolo’ who has shown a dedication with which he has been able to bring the bike close to the second row. This is good for the whole team because it demonstrates that the bike has potential and has supplied us with important data with which to work; our aim is to reach the positions that count before the end of the season. As far as Ayrton’s concerned, Superpole didn’t go well but consistency in the races should allow him to obtain better results.”
TIMES (Superpole): 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’27.3; 2. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’27.7; 3. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’28.0; 4. Rea (Honda) 1’28.1; 5. Camier (Suzuki) 1’28.2; 6. Melandri (BMW) 1’28.2; 7. Davies (BMW) 1’28.6; 8. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’28.7; 9. Canepa (Ducati Alstare) 1’29.3; 10. Checa (Ducati Alstare) 1’28.4… 14. Badovini (Ducati Alstare) 1’29.2