Monterey (USA), Saturday 28 September 2013: it proved to be a trying day for Team SBK Ducati Alstare at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway today; after qualifying in fourth position on the grid, substitute rider Niccolò Canepa crashed out of the race while injured Ayrton Badovini finished in a valiant ninth position.
Riders once again enjoyed dry and sunny conditions today at the Californian track of Laguna Seca. Team SBK Ducati Alstare used the morning’s final free practice session to make last-minute set-up changes ahead of the Superpole and Race 1. Niccolò consolidated yesterday’s strong performance, completing a series of fast laps and closing practice in fourth place (1’23.9), while Ayrton finished eleventh with a time of 1’24.6.
Superpole – in the first phase Canepa immediately set a very fast 1’23.5 with which he positioned fifth, progressing easily to session two. Badovini needed to make a second exit with his first qualifying tyre, recording a 1’23.9 which placed him eleventh. In Superpole 2 Niccolò closed sixth having made only one timed lap while Ayrton used his second qualifying tyre to take the ninth fastest time. In the third and final session, and with no qualifying tyre left to use, Ayrton closed in ninth place with a time of 1’24.7. Niccolò, having saved both qualifiers for this all-important session, ducked under the 1’23 barrier to record an impressive 1’22.8; missing out on a front row spot by just one tenth of a second, he qualified in fourth place (second row) for the weekend’s two 26-lap races.
Race 1 – the riders were lying seventh (Canepa) and thirteenth (Badovini) when, on lap six, a crash for one of the wildcards caused damage to a section of air-fence, causing the race to be red-flagged. In the restarted race, Niccolò moved into eleventh place, with Ayrton in thirteenth. Unfortunately after six laps Canepa suffered a fall, losing the front of his bike, and was unable to continue. A second red flag was waved minutes later when another rider crashed, leaving oil on the track. In a restarted (12 lap) race, Badovini started from ninth position. Battling briefly with Cluzel and then Elias, the Ducati Alstare man held ninth for the best part of the race and, despite the pain in his ankle, crossed the line in that same position, earning valuable championship points in the process.
Ayrton Badovini: “I’m pleased on the one hand because in the final race I was able to make my best lap, so it was going a little better than in the first two ‘heats’ but unfortunately I’m really paying physically at this track. As I can’t push with my foot, I’m having to compensate with my arms and after eight or nine laps I just can’t keep the pace up. I’d been to the Clinica Mobile for painkilling injections prior to the race but I was still suffering during the race. Anyway we’ve done what we could today. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow but the way I’m feeling right now I think I’ll really struggle to make 26 consecutive laps.”
Niccolò Canepa: “Unfortunately I was having a little trouble in the first ‘heat’ and this meant that we started further back in the second. In trying to make up lost ground I unfortunately made a mistake and fell, losing the front. We’d made a small change to try and improve the bike but it didn't have the desired result, perhaps the heat also affected the performance of the front of the bike. Tomorrow we’ll make another change and hopefully I’ll be able to put together a good race.”
Superpole – 1. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’22.6, 2. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’22.6; 3. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’22.7; 4. Canepa (Ducati Alstare) 1’22.8; 5. Davies (BMW) 1’23.0; 6. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’23.3; 7. Melandri (BMW) 1’23.3; 8. Cluzel (Suzuki) 1’24.0; 9. Badovini (Ducati Alstare) 1’24.7….
Race 1: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki); 2. Davies (BMW); 3. Laverty (Aprilia)…. 9. Badovini (Ducati Alstare)…. DNS Canepa (Ducati Alstare)