Atrocious conditions at today's 12th-round World Superbike Championship first day of qualifying in Vallelunga in Italy hindered Team Suzuki Alstare riders Fonsi Nieto, Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner.
Kagayama was the best rider in 11th, Nieto was 14th and series top rider Neukirchner an uncharacteristic 19th.
The rain started in the morning and became heavier throughout the day and resulted in many crashes, including two from Neukirchner. Fortunately the young German was not injured and he, like all the riders, is hoping for an improvement in the conditions tomorrow.
Japanese rider Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) topped the standings today with Ruben Xaus (Ducati) second, Troy Bayliss (Ducati) third and Troy Corser (Yamaha) fourth.
Yukio Kagayama - 11th, 1:52.507:
"Today the track was very slippery and although my feeling for the track is better than Donington, it is not prefect yet. This track is a bit strange because there are two different parts with different surfaces. Funnily enough, the older part has the better grip than the newer part. The new section had a lot of standing water in many places this afternoon and there it was impossible to see the track because you can only see water! I hope the conditions are better tomorrow."
Fonsi Nieto - 14th, 1:52.719:
"We started with our wet set-up from Donington and made some changes to the mapping and other small changes. I feel I have more grip here than I had in Donington because there I could hardly lean the bike over. There is a lot of standing water round this track, particularly in the last corner, and it's difficult to see exactly where the track is. Like everybody else, I am hoping for better weather tomorrow."
Max Neukirchner - 19th, 1:53.336:
"This is a difficult place because there are two different track surfaces and the grip level is different in both of them. For me, the older section has better grip than the newer part, but there are some places on the track where there is so much water you cannot see the surface at all. I had two crashes today, but no injury, so it's no big thing at all. The first crash happened when the rear end just suddenly came round without any warning and I fell. The second was because there was just too much standing water and I hit it and crashed. It was quite easy to do!"
Friday WSB qualifying: 1 Haga (J-Yamaha) 1:50.595, 2 Xaus (E-Ducati) 1:50.879, 3 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:51.146, 4 Corser (Aus-Yamaha) 1:51.228, 5 Kiyonari (J-Honda) 1:51.419, 6 Lavilla (E-Honda) 1:52.012, 7 C.Checa (E-Honda) 1:52.143, 8 Rolfo (I-Honda) 1:52.407, 9 Laconi (F-Kawasaki) 1:52.463, 10 Walker (GB-Honda) 1:52.466, 11 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 1:52.507. 14 Fonsi Nieto (