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Monday 30th May 2011

WEATHER INTERRUPTS CASTROL HONDA'S MILLER PROGRESS

The Castrol Honda World Superbike team suffered its worst qualifying session of the season at Miller Motorsports Park in the USA this afternoon. Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus qualified in thirteenth and fourteenth places respectively for tomorrow’s two fifth round races.

Despite perisistent rain and much lower temperatures, yesterday’s pace setter, Carlos Checa, took pole position for both Monday’s 21-lap races.

As the cold and wet weather swept across the 4.907km Miller circuit near Salt Lake City in Utah, Rea and Xaus were unable to find the ideal set up for their Castrol Honda CBR1000RR machines. Although the rain began to relent as Superpole began and lap times started to fall on the drying Miller circuit, both riders were eliminated after the first Superpole session.

With further rain showers forecast for tomorrow, both Rea and Xaus will work with their crews tonight, analyzing their data in a search for the rear grip that they complained eluded them both today.

Jonathan Rea – P13, 2m03.232s
I’m very disappointed with that qualifying result because we just couldn’t get the bike working today. We were struggling with grip in the wet conditions, especially on corner entry and when the bike is leant over. It was a combination of problems that included engine braking and clutch, and we weren’t able to get a handle on it. However, we’re not going to bury our heads in the sand – we’ll go through everything in detail tonight and get a plan together for whatever the conditions are going to be tomorrow. It’s not going to be easy from where we are on the grid but I’m hoping that we can fight for at least a top five placing. If the conditions are mixed, then a whole lot of other factors will come into play, so we’ll see how things are in the morning and play it by ear.

Ruben Xaus – P14, 2m03.382s
Yesterday was good, but today it rained and it seemed like Jonathan and I had the same problems. The main issue for me is the first touch on the gas, when the bike loses grip and tries to come round. It happens on all the left corners and, on the three right-handers, when there is less heat in the tyre, it’s quite dramatic the time we’re losing. We have some work to do now and the team will work calmly and methodically tonight to find a solution, which needs to be quite big I think.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Today’s qualifying results are, of course, really disappointing – we were all expecting and hoping for a lot more than that. Miller was not the best track for us last year, and this time around it has proved to be more than challenging. We’ve struggled today in the wet, which has surprised us because normally these are conditions in which we do quite well. Last night it appeared that we had found a good direction, but now, after today’s conditions, we definitely need to make a big step. We came testing here to turn things around but we seem to be struggling even more, so we definitely need to pull a big one out for tomorrow.

2011 World Superbike championship, round five – Miller Motorsports Park, USA

Final qualifying results:

1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 1m58.315s
2 Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati 1m58.390s
3 Marco Melandri (ITA) Yamaha 1m58.609s
4 Eugene Laverty (ITL) Yamaha 1m58.860s
13 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Castrol Honda 2m.03.232s
14 Ruben Xaus (ESP) Castrol Honda 2m03.832s

 

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