Team Suzuki Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama mastered a bumpy track and blustery conditions in this 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."
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.
Tom Sykes, "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."