Bikes: Tough qualifying for Alstare

AT RAIN-LASHED DONINGTON

Poor weather continued at Donington Park yesterday and Team Alstare Suzuki's Max Neukirchner, Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama continued to suffer with grip problems throughout the day.

The morning's qualifying session was very wet and Nieto and Kagayama struggled to get into the top 16 for Superpole right from the start. In the end, neither made the cut and were left languishing in 23rd and 24th places respectively.

For Neukirchner the situation was not much better, though he did end 16th and at least qualify. But the grip problems persisted in the 'Wet Superpole' and, although he tried his very best, he could only finish 14th quickest.

Aussie Troy Bayliss (Ducati) took Superpole, his sixth of the season, with a time of 1:42.013. Joining him on the front row of the grid are Honda riders Ryuichi Kiyonari and Carlos Checa, with Ruben Xaus slotting into fourth place.

Max Neukirchner: 14th, 1:43.895:

"All three of us had the same problem - no grip! I was happy I managed to get into Superpole, but really my feeling for the rear end did not get much better. The front is OK but, despite all the changes we made and the things we tried, we never managed to get a good feeling at the rear. It's hard to know what to do, but I still think I can make a good result tomorrow because many things can happen in a race and, if it is wet, I am sure there will be many crashes. So my idea is to keep upright, ride as hard as I can and see what happens."

Fonsi Nieto: 23rd, 1:47.344:

"So far, this weekend has been a disaster! Normally I don't crash a lot, so to crash twice is a big surprise to me. Also, normally I am quite good in the wet, but here I have found no rear grip in two days even though we've tried many different things. This afternoon's free practice was a bit better than the two previous sessions, but there's still some way to go to find a good set-up. I really hope that it will not rain tomorrow because that is probably the best chance I have to make a good result."

Yukio Kagayama: 24th, 1:47.363:

"This weekend has not been easy and the conditions have been very difficult. When it was wet in Germany earlier this season, the grip was not so bad and I could make a good lap. But here, at Donington, I have found no rear end grip at all, so it's been hard to go fast. We've made many changes over these two days but have not been able to find any rear grip. In fact, the bike feels as if it is aquaplaning in the turns and on the straights! I even tried changing my riding style today but it didn't make any difference. This is the first time I have not qualified for Superpole and that makes me a little angry and frustrated. I would prefer a dry race tomorrow and two very good starts!"

Final WSB qualifying: 1 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:42.013, 2 Kiyonari (J-Honda) 1:42.353, 3 Checa (GB-Honda) 1:42.486, 4 Xaus (E-Ducati) 1:2.573, 5 Ellison (GB-Honda) 1:42.582, 6 Biaggi (I-Ducati) 1:42.619, 7 Tom Sykes (GB-Rizla Suzuki) 1:42.624, 8 Corser (Aus-Yamaha) 1:42.875, 9 Crutchlow (GB-Honda) 1:43.125, 10 Fabrizio (I-Ducati) 1:43.172. 14 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 1:43.895. 23 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 1:47.344. 24 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 1:47.363.

RIZLA SUZUKI REPORT:

Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes showed his speed by sitting on pole position for nearly half of the wet Superpole at the Donington Park 11th round of the World Superbike Championship before eventually ending up seventh after a late crash meant he wasn't able to improve as the track became faster.

Due to the wet conditions, Superpole took a different form where each rider is allowed a maximum of 12 laps. Sykes went out early in the session using only five of his laps and securing pole position which he then held for 23-minutes.

As Superpole progressed the track conditions improved, Sykes slipped down the order, but keen to go for pole he returned to the action only to succumb to a high-side crash at Coppice corner during the last five minutes of qualifying. Luckily he walked away unhurt.

Tom Sykes:

"That was an interesting session. We made some changes and straight away they worked. I was very happy with everything and we did hold pole for a long time. We decided to go back out in the last few minutes and I must admit I didn't feel it was a big mistake but I paid the price. All in all second row is good at World Championship level. Hats off to the whole team as we have made a lot of progress with our wet setting which was our main concern and we can take that to BSB. I'd like a couple of dry races but I won't lose any sleep over it. I'll wake up tomorrow morning, look out the window and take it from there."

Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:

"Overall I'm pleased with today. We held pole for the first half of the session and then slipped to second where we stayed for a while. As we saw everyone's lap times start to improve we decided to go back out during the last 10 minutes. I think Tom did a fantastic job and was unlucky to go down at Coppice. He has been riding at a high level and mixing it with the World Class riders in horrible conditions. He needs that kind of experience to get to the next zone and needs to be out there challenging the other riders. Everyone is in good spirits, the bike is well set-up and we are looking forward to tomorrow. The team has done a first class job."

SUPERSTOCK 1000:

Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon defied the conditions at Donington today to take pole position for tomorrow's 11th round of this year's Superstock FIM Cup.

The young Belgian mastered the slippery 4.023 kilometre circuit to post a lap of 1:45.860, over two tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival Chris Seaton (Suzuki). Third quickest is Jon Kirkham (Yamaha) with Alessandro Polita (Ducati) fourth.

Xavi Simeon - 1st, 1:45.860:

"I am very happy to be on pole position today and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. This morning I had a small crash, maybe because I was trying a bit too hard a bit too soon, but I wasn't hurt at all and that was the main thing. In this afternoon's final qualifying we had to be very careful which tyres we used when, because the conditions changed during the session, but happily we made the right choice and I was able to set the fastest lap. We haven't had any dry time so far so if it is dry tomorrow it's not going to be easy. But, it will be the same for everybody and we will have to make the most of it. My intention is to go for victory, whatever the conditions!"

Final Superstock 1000 qualifying: 1 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 1:45.860, 2 Seaton (GB-Suzuki) 1:46.111, 3 Kirkham (Yamaha) 1:46.412, 4 Polita (I-Ducati) 1:46.748, 5 Roberts (Aus-Ducati) 1:46.897, 6 Pirro (I-Yamaha) 1:46.928.