After a long wait, it is finally time to take to the track in Australia at the Phillip Island circuit for the first round of the Superbike 2009 season. The first qualifying session was held today, a veritable trial by fire after the practicing over the past week, in which the riders were finally all given the chance to measure up against one another face to face. The best lap was set by Smrz on the team Guandalini Ducati, but the field proved to be very evenly matched, with the top fifteen riders all within a second. The sixth fastest time of 1 min 32.928 sec set by Shynja Nakano was just 0.616 seconds behind the quickest lap by the Czech rider. The Japanese rider concentrated on finding a race rhythm with worn tyres, and continued to seem more at ease with the bike – a class that is completely new territory for him. Eleventh place went to Biaggi who stopped the clock at 1 min 32.995 sec, 0.683 seconds behind Smrz. Max is continuing to develop the relatively new RSV4, which still has a few teething problems concerning vibration, especially when entering curves.
"These two sessions were very exciting for me – said Nakano – it is my first real debut in the class and the first time that I’ve ridden together with all the other riders. In the practice session this morning we didn’t do too badly, while in the qualifying session we focused on finding a race rhythm with worn tyres and were getting good results. Then we fitted new rubber and set the sixth fastest time straight away. We are all very close and sixth place proves that we are pretty competitive. The bike still isn't completely sorted and the situation hasn’t changed much since practicing, but we know that we’ll be getting new material over the next races.”
“Looking at the time alone, things didn’t go badly – said Biaggi – but compared with the practice sessions the situation obviously hasn’t radically changed, but we knew that that would have been impossible. We still have the same big problem when setting up for curves, vibration at the back of the bike makes the wheel skip, which makes braking very difficult. We still have lots of work to do, although there have been some improvements – for example, the bike’s power delivery is becoming much smoother and more manageable.”