Round 11 – Magny Cours
Inclement weather wreaked havoc with the WorldSBK class as the second session at the Pirelli French Round began in torrential rain. As a result, the lap times were significantly slower as the riders searched for grip.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) left it late to finish fastest in the morning session but the Dutchman deemed the conditions too wet for any meaningful run in the afternoon and chose to sit FP2 out.
In van der Mark’s absence, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) proved the man to beat during FP2 but it wasn’t without a scare. Rounding the Estoril corner, the world champion suffered a huge moment as the rear of his Kawasaki stepped out. The Ulsterman maintained control and went on to top the session ahead of former team-mate Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), current team-mate Leon Haslam and surprise package Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) in fourth, although all riders were slower than they had gone in FP1.
Overall though it is Van der Mark quickest on Friday as he looks to chase down his team-mate Alex Lowes in the battle for third in the standings. Van der Mark has finished on the podium at Magny-Cours in each of the last three years and will fancy his chances of doing so again, whatever the weather.
Michael van der Mark
“It’s been a bit of a strange day. This morning the track was wet at the start but already starting to dry up a little, so we waited quite a long time before going out. At the end it wasn’t dry, it wasn’t wet, and the track conditions were less than perfect, but I had a good feeling with the bike straight away. I didn’t really push for a time, but ended up quickest, so it was a good start to the day. This afternoon it started to rain a lot before the session, and it continued throughout. We waited to see if the conditions would improve, but they didn’t so we decided to sit out the session as I have a good feeling with the bike already and, anyway, the forecast is for dry conditions from tomorrow onwards.”
Lowes ended the day in eighth overall, and much like his team-mate, took a safety-first approach during the afternoon downpour.
“Magny-Cours is one of those places where it’s sometimes a bit hit and miss with the weather, so the conditions today weren’t unexpected. It was good to get out on the track again this morning, even if the mixed conditions meant we weren’t able to learn much. But the feeling with the bike was good, which is one of the reasons why we opted to sit out the second session this afternoon, the other being that the weather looks set to improve ahead of FP3. Despite the limited track time today, we’ll be ready for qualifying and the first race tomorrow.”
Leading the Kawasaki challenge overall was Leon Haslam after a consistent day for the 36-year-old. Haslam was just two-tenths shy of the outright fastest time, indicating that both Kawasaki riders will be competitive tomorrow, wet or dry.
“It was slippery out there but it was OK in the end. This morning you just pushed as hard as you needed to. It was one of those sessions where if someone went fast, you went out and pushed a little bit harder. I think everyone was in the same boat. It was also just trying to gather information in case it is a wet race tomorrow. This morning was not fully wet in the end but this afternoon obviously was, so it was quite important for me to understand what the bike felt like in proper rain conditions. We also got to try the new rain tyre, which is very different. I feel we have had a positive day of collecting data and finishing inside the top three in each session.”
For Rea though a crash during FP1, followed by his near-highside in FP2, prove that nothing is yet completely certain in the championship.
“Overall I am happy with the day because normally with the forecast to be clear tomorrow, and Sunday being even hotter, it is hard to be fully focused on building a set-up. We changed some things with the engine brake settings and we just needed to confirm them in the wet. This morning I was not so happy and this afternoon we worked to confirm something a bit better in the set-up. The bike is behaving a little bit different to how it has in the past in the wet, especially in how I am loading the front. If we should face any more wet weather over the weekend we need to work on stopping the bike in the last part of braking. But I was happy to be fast in full wet conditions. This morning there was a dry line coming up near the end so a lot of people went fast right at the end. It was a positive day.”
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) earned the honour of top Independent rider with third spot, although four figured inside the top six as the heavy rain presented an opportunity for less fancied names.
“Very difficult weather here today at Magny-Cours, a track that is already very tricky in the wet because the grip is so unpredictable. This morning it was starting to dry a bit towards the end of the session and the track wasn’t so bad. This afternoon, with the onset of the rain, it was difficult to see and the bike was aquaplaning a lot, even in places where there didn’t look to be a lot of water. Luckily it looks like we’re going to have better weather tomorrow and Sunday and I hope we’ll get three dry races. It’s never easy here but this afternoon I wasn’t fast, but I felt better on the bike and this morning the feeling was even a bit better. But while I’m still not completely confident when it’s fully wet, the feeling is definitely better than it was in Misano.”
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) held onto fourth with home favourite Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) demonstrating his wet-weather credentials, finishing fifth in both sessions.
“The rain seems to be following me around at the moment! The grip here at Magny-Cours has always been limited in the wet, but it seems to get worse every year. We did a pretty good job this morning. Maybe as the track dried towards the end a slick may have been an option, but it would have also been a risk, which we preferred not to take as it will be dry from tomorrow onwards. This afternoon I didn’t do so many laps but we tried a few things in the fully wet conditions that could stand us in good stead if the weather forecast proves to be wrong, which is a distinct possibility here. It was good to finish the opening day in the top five, but we have a lot to do if we’re going to prepare the bike for dry qualifying tomorrow morning in the final 20-minute practice session, which we hope will be run in good conditions.”
Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) is another rider to watch if the weather takes a turn for the worse, with the Italian an impressive sixth today on the leading Honda.
With Rea and Lowes completing the combined top eight, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) ends Friday as the fastest Ducati rider, narrowly ahead of Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven).
Ducati’s championship hopes still rest on the shoulders of Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and the Spaniard wound up in 13th, one spot ahead of team-mate Chaz Davies with neither venturing out this afternoon.
“For sure it wasn’t the best day to make my debut on this track! This morning, on the wet track surface, I crashed after losing the rear at Turn 1 on the opening lap, but luckily I suffered no physical consequences. I quite like the Magny-Cours track and it doesn’t seem as difficult as Imola or Portimão. I could also see that in case of rain it doesn’t have much grip but it’s the same for everyone. In the second session the heavy rain made the situation even more difficult and because of my shoulder, which is still not at 100%, I preferred not to take any more risks and stayed in the box. Let’s hope that the weather improves for tomorrow and gives me a chance to increase my confidence with the track for the race.”
Moriwaki Althea Honda Team are boosted this weekend by the return of Leon Camier and the Briton showed promising pace in both sessions, ending up 11th overall. By contrast, Sandro Cortese found the going tough with 19th in FP1, followed by a heavy fall at the Adelaide hairpin later in the day which left him with a left shoulder contusion, plus a left elbow contusion and abrasion.
WorldSBK Combined Friday Practice Times
|1||M. Van Der Mark||Yamaha YZF R1||1m51.852|
|2||L. Haslam||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+0.223|
|3||M. Melandri||Yamaha YZF R1||+0.795|
|4||L. Mercado||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+0.868|
|5||L. Baz||Yamaha YZF R1||+0.968|
|6||A. Delbianco||Honda CBR1000RR||+1.053|
|7||J. Rea||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+1.074|
|8||A. Lowes||Yamaha YZF R1||+1.093|
|9||M. Rinaldi||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+1.154|
|10||E. Laverty||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+1.372|
|11||L. Camier||Honda CBR1000RR||+1.657|
|12||T. Razgatlioglu||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+2.177|
|13||A. Bautista||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+2.239|
|14||C. Davies||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+2.281|
|15||R. Kiyonari||Honda CBR1000RR||+2.289|
|16||J. Torres||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+2.307|
|17||S. Barrier||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+2.455|
|18||T. Sykes||BMW S1000 RR||+2.592|
|19||S. Cortese||Yamaha YZF R1||+4.764|
|20||M. Reiterberger||BMW S1000 RR||+5.109|
The final WorldSSP session of the day was held in heavy rain ensuring that this morning’s lap times remained unbeaten. Given the risk attached with running in such conditions, FP1 pacesetter Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) chose to watch the second session from the garage, safe in the knowledge that he would finish the day fastest overall at his and the team’s home round.
FP2 was largely dominated by Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) who gradually improved his pace throughout the afternoon, despite the conditions showing know sign of significant improvement. The Briton was the only rider to drop underneath the two-minute barrier with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 1.191s adrift in second. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) was the man to fly the French flag this afternoon, edging out compatriot Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) while Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) ensured four Kawasaki riders broke into the top five in FP2.
Overall, Perolari’s late dash in FP1 proved to be fastest of the day, with Mahias second overall ahead of Isaac Vinales (Kallio Racing) who restricted his running to just three laps in FP2. Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) was fourth with Jules Cluzel gearing up for a must-win weekend with the fifth fastest time, proving he will a rider to watch whatever the weather has in store this weekend. Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) rounded out the top six and will have high hopes of consolidating a top ten place in the championship standings.
Jules Danilo followed closely behind his team-mate in seventh ahead of Hikari Okubo who finishes the day in eighth overall, despite his impressive showing in FP2. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was a cautious ninth, a position he matched in FP2 as the Italian completed 16 laps, a total only bettered by wildcard Maximilien Bau (GMT94 YAMAHA). Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) completed the top ten, although he was one of seven riders to spend the whole afternoon under shelter in the garage.
Of the riders that did brave the conditions in FP2, championship leader Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was seventh, although that wasn’t enough to lift him from 18th in the combined standings. Elsewhere, Jaimie Van Sikkelerus (MPM WILSport Racedays) suffered his second crash of the day while ESS class runner Gaetan Matern fell at Estoril corner, an accident which left the Frenchman with a left humerus fracture, bringing an end to his weekend.
WorldSSP600 Combined Friday Practice Times
|1||C. Perolari||Yamaha YZF R6||1m44.802|
|2||L. Mahias||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+0.082|
|3||I. Vinales||Yamaha YZF R6||+0.385|
|4||A. Badovini||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+0.633|
|5||J. Cluzel||Yamaha YZF R6||+1.215|
|6||P. Sebestyen||Honda CBR600RR||+2.198|
|7||J. Danilo||Honda CBR600RR||+2.244|
|8||H. Okubo||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+2.301|
|9||F. Caricasulo||Yamaha YZF R6||+2.351|
|10||L. Cresson||Yamaha YZF R6||+2.575|
|11||K. Smith||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+2.759|
|12||T. Gradinger||Yamaha YZF R6||+3.439|
|13||H. Soomer||Honda CBR600RR||+3.902|
|14||R. Hartog||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+4.432|
|15||R. De Rosa||MV Agusta F3 675||+4.450|
|16||G. Ruiu||Yamaha YZF R6||+4.917|
|17||G. Van Straalen||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+5.198|
|18||R. Krummenacher||Yamaha YZF R6||+5.422|
|19||F. Fuligni||MV Agusta F3 675||+6.091|
|20||J. Van Sikkelerus||Honda CBR600RR||+6.660|
|21||N. Calero||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+7.030|
|22||G. Pot||Yamaha YZF R6||+7.295|
|23||M. Bau||Yamaha YZF R6||+8.835|
|24||X. Navand||Yamaha YZF R6||+9.130|
|25||D. Valle||Yamaha YZF R6||+11.704|
|26||G. Matern||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+11.709|
|27||C. Stange||Honda CBR600RR||+11.760|
|28||G. Sconza||Honda CBR600RR||+14.407|
Wet weather dominated day one for the WorldSSP300 class at the Pirelli French Round, however Group A enjoyed a window of drier conditions earlier in the morning. With heavier rain then falling, Dion Otten (MTM Racing Team) saw his FP1 time remain unbeaten with many of the big hitters faced with tougher conditions in Group B.
Otten, who finished a strong sixth at Donington Park earlier this year, finished three-hundredths-of-a-second clear of Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) with Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) third as he goes in search of three consecutive top-six results this weekend.
Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300), who must win this weekend to have any chance of retaining her title, was fourth with Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) rounding out the top five.
With Group B running exclusively in wet conditions, precious few conclusions can be drawn by comparing lap times between the two groups.
Young Aussie Tom Bramich (Carl Cox- RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) suffered a crash in FP1, sustaining a concussion and fractured left elbow, and has been declared unfit. This opened the door for Mika Perez to step in, and the 2018 championship runner-up topped the overall times in Group B ahead of Adrien Quinet (TGP Racing) and Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) who suffered a crash in FP1.
Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) was fourth in Group B with Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (DS Junior Team) next up.
This weekend could see Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) crowned the 2019 WorldSSP300 champion and the Spaniard made a bright start, topping FP1 in Group B, closely followed by his nearest rival Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT). However limited running in FP2 for the championship leader saw him drop to 8th within his group, while Deroue sat out the second session completely.
WorldSSP300 Combined Friday Practice Times
|1||D. Otten||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||2m01.290|
|2||G. Hendra Pratama||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+0.036|
|3||N. Kalinin||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+0.151|
|4||A. Carrasco||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+0.178|
|5||J. Jahnig||KTM RC 390 R||A||+0.187|
|6||M. Bastianelli||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+0.199|
|7||T. Erhard||KTM RC 390 R||A||+0.291|
|8||K. Meuffels||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+0.331|
|9||Y. Okaya||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+1.294|
|10||E. De La Vega||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+1.724|
|11||T. Kawakami||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+1.829|
|12||T. Edwards||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+1.830|
|13||L. Loi||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+1.845|
|14||T. Moreton||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+2.558|
|15||M. Hrava||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+2.924|
|16||D. Iozzo||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+2.976|
|17||K. Hartmann||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+3.564|
|18||S. Markarian||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+4.264|
|19||F. Rovelli||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+4.629|
|20||K. Sabatucci||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+4.966|
|21||P. Giacomini||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+5.270|
|22||A. Longo||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+7.665|
|23||D. Delouvy||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+7.746|
|24||B. Molina||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+8.976|
|25||M. Perez||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+9.868|
|26||K. Aloisi||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+9.896|
|27||A. Quinet||Honda CBR500R||B||+10.816|
|28||V. Steeman||KTM RC 390 R||B||+10.900|
|29||H. De Cancellis||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+10.933|
|30||I. Offer||Kawasaki Ninja 400||A||+11.493|
|31||J. Perez Gonzalez||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+12.358|
|32||B. Sofuoglu||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+12.441|
|33||B. Sanchez||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+12.679|
|34||M. Gonzalez||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+12.963|
|35||B. Ieraci||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+13.021|
|36||M. Kappler||KTM RC 390 R||B||+13.234|
|37||J. Ioverno||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+13.490|
|38||S. Di Sora||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+13.531|
|39||J. Foray||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+13.864|
|40||S. Deroue||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+13.914|
|41||J. Facco||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+14.137|
|42||A. Pelikanova||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+16.016|
|43||M. Carusi||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+16.110|
|44||E. Ceolotto||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+16.123|
|45||M. Garcia||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+17.183|
|46||U. Orradre||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||+17.912|
|47||R. Dore||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||++17.964|
|48||S. Naud||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+18.251|
|49||J. Stroud||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+18.265|
|50||S. Raineri||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+18.324|
|51||J. Buis||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+18.507|
|52||H. Girardet||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+20.295|
|53||V. Schwarz||Kawasaki Ninja 400||B||+22.594|
|54||F. De Bruin||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+24.082|
|55||B. Neila||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||+34.570|
|56||M. Pedeneau||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||/|
|57||G. Carbonnel||Yamaha YZF-R3||A||/|
|58||A. Verdoïa||Yamaha YZF-R3||B||/|