Shakey pushed to his limits on his final qualifying lap and ended up three-quarters of a second away from pole position. James, returning from injury after a three-month lay-off, kept going faster as the session progressed and is building his confidence quickly - he finished just 0.4 secs behind his team mate. Ducati’s Gregorio Lavilla is on pole position.
Superbike racing starts at 1310 on Sunday, September 17th, at the 12th round of the Championship at Silverstone in Northamptonshire. Due to demand, ITV1 will show extended coverage of the racing, starting at 1435. It will also be on Sky Sports 2 at 2300.
“I was a little disappointed not to get onto the second row but after thinking about it I am actually quite pleased with today. I have been approaching the weekend cautiously and it was only in qualifying when I started to push hard. Little things like dragging the brakes and muscling the bike through the corners are coming back to me and the lap times are coming down as a result.
“On race rubber I am almost as fast as my qualifying time and providing I get a good start, I think I have the pace to compete for the top eight. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying being back on a race bike again and loads of credit goes to my Rizla Suzuki crew for giving me a bike that is quick and comfortable to ride – thanks guys!”
“I was maxed out on my last qualifier and nearly lost the front end a couple of times. Maybe I was actually trying a bit too hard and lost time and rhythm that way.
“I am not far off the leaders and tomorrow will be a completely different day. When the lights go out it’s anybody’s race and I’ll be giving it my all.”
Niall Mackenzie, Race Operations Manager:
“James has shown real spirit and determination to come back from serious injury and qualify in the top 10 today, particularly with the pace at the front being so quick. His own pace on race tyres is even more impressive – a full second faster than last year - and certainly capable of letting him run in the top eight in the races. It’s great to have James back with the team.
“Shakey has been trying very hard and is on the second row. In truth we would have preferred a higher grid position, but as ever, he is a better racer than qualifier and we expect him to be mixing it with the front runners tomorrow.”
Qualifying Times: 1: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 1:25.174, 2: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.035, 3: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.395, 4: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.549, 5: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +0.556, 6: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.564, 7: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.604, 8: SHANE BYRNE (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.762, 9: Michael Laverty (Honda) +0.808, 10: JAMES HAYDON (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.130.
Audi Qualifying Award: 1: Haslam 82, 2: Lavilla 75, 3: Harris 55, 4: Kiyonari 51, 5: Rea 50, 6= SHANE BYRNE (RIZLA SUZUKI), Rutter 35, 8: Hill 19, 9: JAMES HAYDON (RIZLA SUZUKI) 12, 10: Dean Thomas (Kawasaki) 11.