Team Suzuki Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama mastered a bumpy track and blustery conditions in yesterday afternoon's qualifying at Brands Hatch to end the day with the third fastest lap time ahead of Sunday's World Superbike Championship 10th round.
His team mate Fonsi Nieto finished 10th and Max Neukirchner 14th.
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) took provisional pole position, just over a tenth-of-a-second faster then Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha).
Yukio Kagayama - 3rd, 1:26.156:
"In this morning practice and at the start of this afternoon's qualifying I did not have a good feeling with the bike and also suffered problems with the grip. But my mechanics and I made some changes to the balance of the bike and the chassis set-up and there was a big improvement straight away. I was able to put in some good laps and now I feel that we can improve further. The wind was very strong this afternoon, especially in the first and last turns and it was easy to get blown off line if you weren't careful. I am a little sore from my crash at the Suzuka 8 hour race last weekend. I hit my left knee and it is not as flexible on the bike as it should be. The damaged ligaments in my left hand are getting better, but I know this is going to take quite some time. It is a little frustrating, but my job is to race so I just have to try and forget about it."
Fonsi Nieto - 10th, 1:26.582:
"Today was not so bad and although I only finished 10th quickest my lap time was not so far away from the leader, so I'm pretty happy. I used my number one bike for the whole day, except at the end when there was a problem with the exhaust and I had to switch to my number two bike. I prefer my number one bike and that's what we'll work with tomorrow. We will carry on working on the traction and wheelie control because it is important to have this working well at this track."
Max Neukirchner - 14th, 1:26.830:
"The first practice felt good and we had a good set-up and the lap times were not so bad. But when we started trying different tyres, the grip went down. Towards the end we used a front and rear combination that worked well and now we will look at Yukio's data and see if we can use some of it and improve. The race line round here is OK, but when you get off-line the track feels dirty and slippery, so you have to keep your wits about you."
Friday WSB Qualifying: 1 Kiyonari (J-Honda) 1:26.017, 2 Haga (J-Yamaha) 1:26.144, 3 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 1:26.156, 4 Biaggi (I-Ducati) 1:26.166, 5 Smrz (CZ-Ducati) 1:26.290, 6 Lavilla (E-Honda) 1:26.441, 7 Corser (Aus-Yamaha) 1:26.461, 8 Muggeridge (Aus-Honda) 1:26.565, 9 Sykes (GB-Suzuki) 1:26.572, 10 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 1:27.582. 14 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 1:26.830.
RIZLA SUZUKI REPORT:
Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes showed raw ability and speed during the opening day of the 10th round of the World Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch in Kent, qualifying in a competitive ninth place, just half a second away from pole position.
The Huddersfield-based wild card rider wasn't fazed on his World Superbike debut by the plethora of stars that were on track alongside him as he knuckled down to work his way through the Pirelli tyre combinations available this weekend. He took the challenge to the regular World Superbike riders, grabbing a top-10 placing and putting in consistent lap times throughout the day.
His Rizla Suzuki worked well on the arduous 2.3-mile undulating Kent circuit as his team already had a good set-up from previous British Superbike rounds. With one second covering the top 15 riders, Sykes has a tough weekend ahead but is confident there is more to come.
"That was a decent session and I'm quite happy with the set-up. We need to make a few little changes as the World Superbike tyres have different characteristic to the BSB tyres. I want to be able to use more of the potential grip on the rear. I'm only 0.5 seconds off so it isn't the end of the world and I'm happy with our race tyres."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager Rizla Suzuki:
"That was a pretty good first qualifying session. We've spent time on our race set-up and working through the available tyre combinations, some of which we haven't tried out previously. We have a few chassis changes to make to the Rizla Suzuki which will help the front hold the line when Tom is on the gas. I'm really pleased so far as we are running consistent times and have good race pace. On ideal times Tom would have been seventh - there isn't much in it. I know we can improve and Tom will step up again tomorrow and challenge for the front row."
WORLD SUPERSPORT REPORT:
Barry Veneman secured the sixth fastest time and a provisional second starting row during the first day of the British race weekend as team mate Didier Van Keymeulen ended the day on a provisional 22nd position.
Many riders struggled with grip problems because of the slippery track during the free practice in the morning. Also RES Software Hoegee Suzuki rider Veneman had some problems to find grip with his Supersport machine, but despite this grip problem he closed the session in fifth.
Marc Hoegee - Team owner RES Software Hoegee Suzuki:
"In general we had a good first day today. The grip problem was not because of the machine, but it had to do with the track. I knew we should have more grip in afternoon, so for the qualifying session we didn't apply big adjustments to the Suzuki. Today we put most attention on the lap times. Barry managed to set down a fine lap time and a provisional place on the second starting row is good. Didier was not so lucky today but the basis is good and I expect that we can make another step forward tomorrow."
"I am satisfied about today. We tried some small things on the bike during the practices but we spent most time to set down a good lap time during the qualifying session. Actually I expected that I was able to ride a faster lap time then I did today. To realise this, it is important that I take the corners with more nerve. It is not possible to measure out the whole circuit hereâ€¦ you just have to be brash enough to go into the corners with nerve. For tomorrow we shall adjust some things on the bike which makes us even more competitive."
Didier Van Keymeulen:
"There are a few things I struggled with today and I have to improve those. Some of these things are the same as Barry mentioned, but there are also things which I can improve by myself. We know which way we have to go, so tomorrow it must be possible to show the improvement. Unfortunately tomorrow's weather forecast is not very good so I hope that it stays dry during the second qualifying session. I find it pretty hard to ride on this track but of course I will do anything I can to get the points this weekend."
SUPERSTOCK 1000 REPORT:
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon finished the first day of qualifying at Brands Hatch with the 11th fastest time but was not happy with proceedings today.
He and the team were unable to find a good set-up in today's two sessions but are confident that things will be different tomorrow.
Xavi Simeon - 11th, 1:30.809:
"I am not happy today because I could not get a good feeling with my bike. We tried different things but the result was the same - little or no grip. I had many problems exiting the corners and just couldn't get on the gas as fast as I wanted to. The funny thing is that I went faster on old tyres today than on new ones because I couldn't feel any difference! The track is very bumpy but that's not the problem. I hope the team and I can find a good set-up tomorrow because I really want a good result on Sunday and leave Brands Hatch leading the series."
Friday Superstock 1000 Qualifying: 1 Berger (F-Honda) 1:29.315, 2 Corti (I-Yamaha) 129.938, 3 Pirro (I-Yamaha) 1:30.015, 4 Roberts (Aus-Ducati) 1:30.064, 5 Kirkham (GB-Yamaha) 1:30.085, 6 Morais (RSA-Kawasaki) 1:30.382. 11 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 1:30.809.