Team Suzuki Alstare rider Fonsi Nieto finished the first day of qualifying at Brno yesterday for round nine of the World Superbike Championship with the sixth fastest time and was the quickest of the Belgium-based squad.
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner was ninth fastest, but Suzuki Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama is still suffering problems with his left hand and could only manage 11th.
Local hero Jakub Smrz (Ducati) sent the home fans wild by topping the standings at the end of today's qualifying session. Second is Aussie Troy Corser (Yamaha) ahead of fellow countryman Troy Bayliss (Ducati) with Max Biaggi (Ducati) fourth.
Fonsi Nieto - 6th, 1:59.926:
"I'm quite happy today and feel very positive about tomorrow - as long as the weather stays OK and it doesn't rain. Today we tried two different styles of bike. We tried a new style of balance and new-spec engine on one bike and an old style balance and old-spec engine on the other. At the end, my preference was for a new-style balance together with an old-spec engine. We are working a lot on the suspension and trying to get the front forks to absorb better. The track has new asphalt and in the afternoon the grip felt similar to the morning, but the tyre life was better. If it stays dry I think that the grip will improve some more and the lap times will come down further."
Max Neukirchner - 9th, 2.00.179:
"I think today went well and we didn't have so many problems. The track asphalt is a bit strange at the moment because we used hard tyres and the tyre life was not as good as when we changed to softer ones! We altered the chassis set-up in the afternoon to help me keep the line in a corner and we will continue to work on this. The new asphalt definitely has more grip and I am sure that the lap times will improve quite a bit as long as it doesn't rain."
Yukio Kagayama - 11th, 2:00.361:
"The ligaments in my left hand are still giving me some problems, and my strength there is not yet 100%, but the pain is less. The track doesn't feel the same as last year and the new surface reminds me of Qatar - sandy with not a good feeling. But the lap times are not so bad. We made a little mistake with the settings in the beginning of the afternoon, qualifying, but changed them at the end of the session and improved the feeling. Tomorrow we will make some adjustments to the front and rear suspension and see if we can the bike better entering the corners."
Friday WSB qualifying: 1 Smrz (CZ-Ducati) 1:59.125, 2 Corser (Aus-Yamaha) 1:59.493, 3 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:59.517, 4 Biaggi (I-Ducati) 1:59.747, 5 Lanzi (I-Ducati) 1:59.850, 6 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 1:59.926, 7 Fabrizio (I-Ducati) 2:00.024, 8 Canepa (I-Ducati) 2:00.131, 9 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 2:00.179, 10 Xaus (E-Ducati) 2:00.196, 11 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 2:00.361.
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon posted the third-quickest lap in first qualifying at Brno today behind provisional pole sitter Maxime Berger (Honda) and Claudio Corti (Yamaha).
Both Berger and Corti tested on the new asphalt at Brno recently, but Simeon didn't, so he felt happy to secure his position.
Xavi Simeon - 3rd, 2:04.844:
"I wasn't happy this morning because the track didn't feel so good. In the afternoon session we started with this morning's tyres and then put on new front and rear tyres and almost immediately I went five seconds a lap faster! Most of my rivals tested here recently so I think I have done well to be third today. The bike feels good and fast and the only thing we will do is make some small changes to make it faster in the corners because that's where I'm losing time at the moment. The new track surface feels very different to last year and I'm going to have to get used to it very soon so that we can get a good bike set-up. I had 23 staples removed from my shoulder a day or so ago and I feel much better as a result. When I had the plate and the screws inserted, the doctors told me that I had broken my collarbone in four places, not three as originally thought. But I don't think three places or four places makes any difference to me on the track. I just get on with it!"
Friday Superstock 1000 qualifying: 1 Berger (F-Honda) 2:04.062, 2 Corti (I-Yamaha) 2:04.311, 3 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 2:04.844, 4 Antonelli (I-Honda) 2:04.854, 5 Roberts (Aus-Ducati) 2:04.895, 6 Pirro (I-Yamaha) 2:045.012.
The RES Software Hoegee Suzuki team finished the first practices respectively in sixth and 21st positions.
Both Barry Veneman and Didier Van Keymeulen are expecting that after some adjustments, the Suzuki GSX-R600K8 will be faster during the second practices tomorrow.
Many riders struggled with grip problems during the free practice in the morning. This had also to do with the new asphalt on the track. Also Veneman had this problem and he finished the morning session on the 13th place. After the mechanics worked hard to find the right settings on the bike, Veneman was able to ride with the front men, finishing sixth.
Marc Hoegee - Team owner RES Software Hoegee Suzuki:
"This morning we had a pretty hard time, but because of the new asphalt everybody had to deal with the same problems. We had to change a lot on the settings from both Suzukis, but with the different temperature in the afternoon, this was not the case. We did some small adjustments which had a positive effect on the settings and so both riders were able to improve their self a lot."
"Luckily it went much better during the qualifying practice than it went in the free practice this morning. With new tyres I could set down some good lap times and also my feeling with the bike was ok. Still there are some points we have to improve: I noticed this especially when the tyres started to wear out. We have to work on this for tomorrow's qualifying. Today I tried both bikes and I am actually surprised that I had the best feeling with my second bike. Who knows how things will go if my first bike is running well."
Didier Van Keymeulen:
"I had some grip problems on the front this morning. After a few laps, my front tyre was totally done. We were able to solve this so I had a lot more grip during the qualifying session. Because of the adjustments we made, we also had to change some other settings on the front. That is the points where we have to work on now so the bike runs well tomorrow. Again we are all standing close together and I expect that with these adjustments, I have to be able to win several places tomorrow."