These just in:
An extremely unlucky day for Team SBK Ducati Alstare today at Istanbul Park
Istanbul (Turkey), Friday 13 September 2013: luck was unfortunately not with Team SBK Ducati Alstare today at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey. While taking part in the first practice session of this twelfth round of the World Superbike Championship, both Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini crashed, injuring themselves in the process.
This morning's first practice session took place in very warm conditions (30˚C air temperature, 44˚C track). The session was longer than usual, 90 minutes in length, in order to give the riders time to familiarize themselves with this new track. Carlos, after suffering a few problems early on in the session, was making solid improvement during the second half of the session, recording times that brought him close to the leading group but unfortunately, right after having registered his fastest lap of the session (59.2), the Spaniard was the victim of a nasty highside at Turn 2. He was taken to the Clinica Mobile as a result, where doctors diagnosed a contusion to the upper thorax as well as a possible fracture of the left scaphoid. Unfortunately Carlos will be unable to continue this weekend; further medical tests are required in order to establish when he will be able to return to the track.
Badovini made a good start to the session, immediately finding his rhythm on this new track. He remained in the top positions for the best part of the extended session but unfortunately, just ten minutes from the end and while in the process of making a very fast lap, he too crashed, losing the front at Turn 12. Having stretched the ligaments in his left ankle as well as suffering severe swelling due to a hematoma in the same ankle, it was decided that he would not participate in this afternoon's qualifying to give the swelling chance to reduce. Doctors are however confident that Ayrton will be able to ride tomorrow.
The two riders finished this first session in tenth (Checa) and eleventh (Badovini) position.
Carlos Checa: "I have a lot of pain in the chest area on both the right and left side. I've also hurt my wrist but as there is already a screw there, resulting from an injury that dates back to 1996, it's not yet clear whether I've now fractured it again or not. I obviously cannot ride in this condition; the doctors have advised me to rest up."
Ayrton Badovini: "We had made quite a good start. There are a few things we still need to sort out but the session had been going fairly well until the crash, also considering that we were using a harder tyre solution that I normally have more difficulty with. We didn't need the crash of course, my foot was trapped between the track and bike but fortunately, thanks to my boot, the damage was limited. I have however stretched all the ligaments in my left ankle and broken a vein, which is the reason for the swelling. The doctors tell me that, as long as I rest up today and keep my ankle iced, then I should be a in a position to ride tomorrow - I won't be in great shape of course but I'll do my best."
BRACE FOR SYLVAIN GUINTOLI FRIDAY AT ISTANBUL: FIRST IN BOTH FREE PRACTICE AND QUALIFIERS.
EUGENE LAVERTY STARTS OFF CAUTIOUSLY ON A NEW TRACK TO THEN PICK UP THE PACE AND FINISH THIRD IN THE FIRST QUALIFIERS.
Istanbul, 13 September 2013 - The first Turkish World Superbike weekend could not have gotten off to a better start for the Aprilia Racing Team. Sylvain Guintoli, lying second in the championship at just one point behind the leader, stopped the clock with the best time in both sessions today, widening the gap to more than half a second in front of his nearest rival. Without a doubt Sylvain has the advantage of being familiar with the Istanbul track, a difficult circuit to interpret as indicated by the many crashes today.
In the morning free practice sessions, 90 minutes long instead of the usual 45 precisely for the purpose of familiarising the riders with the track, Sylvain immediately found a good feeling. The afternoon free practice sessions were similar, with no one able to come close to the French rider on a fast lap, whereas the limited grip conditions mean that some fine tuning is essential to make sure the riders can last the distance. In fact, Guintoli has already identified tyre duration as the crucial point for the Istanbul weekend, but he knows that for this situation he can count on the performance of his RSV4.
Sylvain Guintoli: "I'm usually one to start off slowly, but today I pushed hard right away because I felt very confident right out of the gate. At the Nürburgring I was close to the front runners but I was still lacking something. Here I want to be strong straight away. There will be two hot races on Sunday in more ways than one and it will be a delicate situation for the tyres. The battle for the championship is heated and it is no fluke that the top positions today are held by the main title contenders. We will need to work well in view of the races and grip is the main concern".
Eugene Laverty had only gotten a small "taste" of the Intercity Istanbul Park turns in his GP days, so he got off to a more cautious start, preferring to use the morning free practice sessions to familiarise himself with the track. By the qualifiers, however, he had come into his own, picking up the pace as his feeling on the Turkish turns improved. He ended the day with the third best time, an excellent starting point to work from for Superpole tomorrow and the races on Sunday.
Eugene Laverty: "Grip conditions this morning were really critical, so I preferred a more cautious approach in the first few laps. As the track started to clean up we improved my RSV4, making it more agile and looking for more grip on the rear. The track is really nice. The way it's set up reminds me a bit of Aragon. Turn 11 is extremely fast - really incredible. I must say that the bike is already working well. The RSV4 usually isn't too hard on the rear tyre and in these conditions that could prove be a strong advantage".
A good start for team Althea and Davide Giugliano in Istanbul
Today saw team Althea Racing take part in the first practice and qualifying sessions of this, the eleventh round of the World Superbke championship at Intercity Istanbul Park in Turkey. This is a first visit to the Turkish track for both the championship and the Althea Racing team and conditions were hot and sunny for today's opening sessions.
Davide Giugliano made a good start to the weekend and thanks to a time of 1.58"445 he secured sixth position in the morning's free practice session which was 90 minutes in length rather than the usual 45, to give riders a chance to learn the new layout. Without pushing, team Althea's rider was able to demonstrate his confidence on what is a technical track that is not easy to interpret. In the first qualifying session Davide was able to improve on his best time, stopping the clock at 1'57"649, a time which positioned him eighth at the session's end.
A positive start for Genesio Bevilacqua's team that has worked hard to prepare for tomorrow's Superpole but above all for Sunday's races.
Davide Giugliano: "The track is great and I'm having fun riding this new layout. Together with my team we are working hard to find a good setting for my RSV4 and we're making some modifications that will allow me to improve my rhythm. I'm not far from the leaders, many of whom have already raced on this track, while it is totally new to me. In the afternoon we improved on this morning's performance, a sign that we're moving in the right direction. I'm confident for tomorrow and look forward to continuing with the work started today."
Pata Honda riders ease into Istanbul Park
Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio, who is replacing the injured Jonathan Rea, finished in ninth and tenth places respectively at Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey this afternoon after the opening qualifying for Sunday's two 11th-round World Superbike championship races.
The 5.340km circuit on the Asian side of Istanbul is new to many SBK riders and Haslam and Fabrizio spent this morning's extended free practice session familiarizing themselves with its combination of corners and marked elevation changes.
As this afternoon's qualifying session began, both Pata Honda riders began to attack the circuit more but will require tomorrow's qualifying and free practice session to fine-tune the settings on their Honda CBR1000RR machines for Sunday's two 18-lap races.
Leon Haslam - P9 1m57.699s
I'm really enjoying this new track. It was a little dusty first thing and there wasn't much grip out there but it was getting better this afternoon. I felt pretty good this morning and got into a good rhythm but, when I went out this afternoon, we'd gone the wrong way with the setting. It was such that we couldn't change back so we tried a few things and gathered some data and that was it. My quickest lap was the second one out so we were kind of resigned to it. We've got a good plan for tomorrow though, so I'm looking forward to going through it all tonight and getting out there again in the morning.
Michel Fabrizio - P10 1m58.340s
I am quite happy. The circuit is fantastic but I don't have much feeling for it yet - the layout is quite difficult but I am enjoying riding it and learning more with each lap. It's also step-by-step with the bike. I haven't really changed anything with the bike yet. This morning I was three seconds from the front, now it's two. Tomorrow morning, hopefully one, and then we are close! The bike is very good but I don't want to upset Jonathan with many changes yet!
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
We lost quite a lot of time this morning with Michel's bike with some technical issues, which should not have been the case. He took it fairly easy this morning and we asked him to push on a bit this afternoon. There are some issues with the setting now that we need to work on - the front end, for example, and we need to find some more rear grip. All in all though, it was a solid day and we'll hope for another one tomorrow! It looked quite promising for Leon for most of the day and he was always in the group of fastest riders. Unfortunately, he ended up ninth and, although he's close to the riders immediately in front, we'd hoped to fine four tenths with a new tyre. That didn't happen, but we're finding our way with some issues he had this afternoon so that should improve the bike in order for him to improve the lap time tomorrow.