A lack of rear grip stymied World Superbike Championship leader Noriyuki Haga's progress on the first day of competition for round two at Losail, Qatar, the Japanese rider down in 11th on the provisional grid.
Eager to capitalise on his early advantage in the standings, Haga was hoping for a strong start to his Qatari endeavour but instead found himself outside the top ten and struggling for grip.
Emerging 1.4secs behind pace setter, and anticipated title rival, Ben Spies, Haga described his day as 'strange', but insists the Ducati Xerox is performing well, while he is confident of finding a solution to his problems.
“Today was a strange day for me. We tried a different rear suspension setting to that used in Australia but the grip did not improve as we expected it to. Anyway the feeling I have with the 1198 is good and tomorrow we really just need to resolve the fact that I'm lacking rear grip.
“I will speak with my technicians again to decide how we will proceed tomorrow, we need to find a new way forward. There were some fast times recorded today so I need to pick up my pace tomorrow.”
Team-mate Michel Fabrizio fared better, going one tenth and three positions better than Haga in eighth. However, he too was struggling with the same grip issues.
“It feels like we lost his morning's session as we completed very few laps so have had to make up for that this afternoon during qualifying, and haven't had time to make the progress we hoped for. If we had gone straight out this morning without problems we would surely have done better than we did this afternoon.
“I have had some problems with grip and we need to see which tyres can last race distance but all in all, I'm reasonably confident for now and we know what we need to try tomorrow in second qualifying.”