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Virgin mystified at low grid positions
1 January 1901
The Virgin Mobile Samsung British Superbike team were busy solving a mystery after the second qualifying session at Mallory Park after riders Tommy Hill and Sean Emmett qualified in an uncustomary thirteenth and twentieth place respectively.
Throughout the two sessions both riders were consistently middle of the pack but failed to make an impression in the all-important closing moments of the afternoon's session to improve their position.
Both Emmett and Hill reported that the handling of the bike was excellent from the start/finish straight to Edwina's, but then struggled from the chicane through to the hairpin section of the track.
“I am really happy on race rubber, the bike just reeled them in, which is good because I've a fair bit of work to do tomorrow!" admitted Hill. "This track is so aggressive so tomorrow I will have to make sure I'm in the same frame of mind!"
Like Hill, Emmett was also bemused and commented; “Sometimes this sport throws things at you and no matter how good you feel on the bike you just can't get any further up the timesheets. Obviously I'm disappointed but more than that I'm a bit puzzled. I felt inch perfect out there, I was hitting all the apexes at the right point, I didn't run deep anywhere and then you come in and you have qualified on the fifth row! I'm going to sit down with my engineers tonight and have a look at the data and see if that gives us any clues.”
The pace of the Championship is so frantic that series leader Ryuichi Kiyonari constantly broke the current lap record throughout the day and qualified on pole.
“We have been to two different types of tracks, Brands Hatch Indy, which is slow and punchy and a very fast Thruxton and we were strong at both, so to come here and have problems is a bit of a mystery," commented team boss Rob McElnea. "However, saying that, we have not tested here with the new 'Pig' engine so perhaps that may have something to do with it. Either way tomorrow we have two races and the lads are determined as ever to make a strong impression.”
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