Despite emerging with positive results, all three Ten Kate Honda riders will put a line underneath provisional qualifying for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at Vallelunga as they expect the rainy conditions to give way to sunnier weather over the weekend.
Both free practice and provisional qualifying were held in difficult conditions, but with a much better forecast for final qualifying and the races, none of the riders were willing to take too many risks.
Nonetheless, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Carlos Checa and Kenan Sofuoglu made decent starts to the weekend, the former bouncing back from a fall in free practice to go provisionally fifth best.
“Today was just a bit of practice in the wet and the only thing we learned was that the track was very slippery, especially at the back of the fast opening section. I made a silly mistake and crashed this morning, but it was very difficult to get any feeling for what the front of the bike was doing.
“This afternoon it was even wetter and very dangerous – there was just too much water on the track and it wasn't going anywhere. We'll start again tomorrow.”
Checa was only marginally slower in seventh, the Spaniard adding that he wasn't willing to push too hard on what is a tricky circuit in the wet.
”We tested a bit for the wet today to get a feeling for the bike and the track. But we didn't want to take any risks knowing that tomorrow and Sunday should be dry. On this track you spend a lot of time changing direction under acceleration and it's very difficult in those conditions. The time we needed to plan for a dry race was lost today, but it's the same for everyone. It just means we have lots of work to do tomorrow.”
Sofuoglu, meanwhile, caused a stir in morning practice by going a morale-boosting fourth quickest, but he slipped back to 12th in qualifying as he began to struggle with a shoulder injury sustained in a fall at Donington Park.
”I was fourth in practice this morning but I couldn't improve my time this afternoon. This was because the rain got even worse and the cold and damp affected my shoulder, which is still a little sore after the crash at Donington. Anyway, tomorrow is supposed to be dry so we will see how things are in the morning.”