February 21, 2008

Team Suzuki Press Office – February 21, 2008.

Despite the incredibly strong winds at the World Superbike Championship opening round at the Doha circuit in Qatar today, Team Suzuki Alstare riders Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama took strong third and fifth fastest times overall.

Max Neukirchner experienced some handling problems but also didn’t want to risk anything in the difficult conditions so he kept things steady to finish 10th.

Aussie Troy Corser (Yamaha) ended first qualifying with the day’s fastest lap, 1:59.627, two tenths of a second quicker than his fellow countryman Troy Bayliss (Ducati). Nieto had been fastest in the morning untimed practice session and ended third quickest in the afternoon with Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) fourth.

Fonsi Nieto – 3rd, 2:00.307:

“I’m happy with the first day of practice here in Qatar and think that what we did today was a good result. It was hard today because of the very strong wind and, because the wind was not consistent, it made things quite difficult today. I’m particularly happy because Corser, Bayliss and Haga all tested here recently, so to be up with them today is very satisfying. Both the wind and the sand make it easy to miss your line and once that happens, you lose time. We did a lot of good work on the bike today and hope to carry that on tomorrow. I hope that the wind is not so strong and we can make good progress throughout the day.”

Yukio Kagayama – 5th, 2:00.599:

“The wind today was unbelievable! I don’t think I’ve ever raced in such strong winds before and certainly not winds that stayed at the same strength all day. It made many parts of the track a problem, especially the second last corner for me. I think the wind pushed me off line five times in five laps at that turn and that meant that I lost time. Also, I was hit in the visor many times by small stones and that made life a bit interesting! For tomorrow, I think we’ll keep the same chassis set-up but make some adjustments to the engine and the electronics to make the bike smoother and easier to ride. I just hope the wind is not so bad!”

Max Neukirchner – 10th, 2:00.904:

“It was very windy out there today and I had many problems in many parts of the track because of that. It was not easy braking for the turns because sometimes the wind was behind you, sometimes across you and sometimes in your front!  The last four turns were a particular problem for me and I know that I lost quite a bit of time there. But despite all that we did some good work today and found a good direction for the bike. Unlike most of the other riders here, this is my first time at the track since the race last year, so I have some catching-up to do. I hope the wind is not so strong tomorrow so that I can push harder and improve my time.”

Thursday Results: 1 Corser (Aus-Yamaha) 1:59.627, 2 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:59.853, 3 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 2:00.307, 4 Haga (J-Yamaha) 2:00.476, 5 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 2:00.599, 6 Xaus (E-Ducati) 2:00.695. 10 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 2:00.904.