Monterey (USA), Friday 27 September 2013: round 12 of the World Superbike Championship got underway today at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway in California, USA; Team SBK Ducati Alstare enjoyed warm and sunny conditions during this first day of track action and results were extremely positive.
Ayrton Badovini used the morning’s free practice session to familiarize himself with what is for him a new track, making some set-up modifications with his team during the 45 minutes available. He closed the session in eleventh position with a time of 1’26.0. Niccolò Canepa, who substitutes the injured Carlos Checa this weekend and has raced here in the past, lapped a tenth of a second faster than Ayrton (1’25.9) to position himself tenth at the session’s end.
In a change to the usual Superbike race schedule, both qualifying sessions took place this afternoon. In Qualifying 1 Niccolò and Ayrton started to get into their rhythm and both were able to improve significantly on this morning’s times. While Ayrton dropped his time by a full second, stopping the clock on 1’25.0 to take eleventh position, Niccolò improved by 1.5 seconds, recording an extremely impressive 1’24.4 with which he projected himself into second position, only 0.013 of a second behind leader Laverty.
Later in the day, in second qualifying, Ayrton took a step forward. After a small crash at turn 6 in the early stages of the session, he returned to the track and recorded a 1’24.6 that positioned him tenth, a good result considering he is riding with an injured left ankle. Niccolò, evidently at ease on the American track, waited until the final minutes before showing his real potential. The first rider to lap in under 1’24 today, Canepa’s best lap, a 1’23.9, ensured him of final second place, an extremely positive result that augers well for the races.
Ayrton Badovini: “The track is difficult but we’re getting to grips with it gradually. The problem is that, with all the left-hand corners, after a while my foot starts to play up. I didn’t want to push too hard today, in order to save something for tomorrow. But I’m fairly pleased because I don’t think our pace is bad and it seems that the new weight distribution is making a difference. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Niccolò Canepa: “I’m extremely happy! To come to a track as difficult as this one, and considering this isn’t my category, finishing second today is a great result. I’m also confident because I know we still have room for improvement and so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Our pace is looking good and so, all things considered, I’d say we’re in a good place. Thanks to the team for all their hard work so far; I hope we can improve further tomorrow.”
Superpole will take place tomorrow morning followed by Race 1 at 2pm local time. Race 2 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, again at 2pm.
TIMES (Qualifying): 1. Melandri (BMW) 1’23.7; 2. Canepa (Ducati Alstare) 1’23.9, 3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’24.1, 4. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’24.3; 5. Davies (BMW) 1’24.3; 6. Eslick (Suzuki) 1’24.3; 7. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’24.3; 8. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’24.3; 9. Haslam (Honda) 1’24.5; 10. Badovini (Ducati Alstare) 1’24.6