After a strong opening to the Kyalami WSBK weekend, Leon Haslam and Ryuichi Kiyonari were both disappointed to bow out of Superpole during the second elimination phase.
After showing promising pace in first qualifying, Stiggy Racing's Haslam was again on the pace on Saturday morning, securing the second fastest time second qualifying as his 1min 38.505secs effort left him behind only weekend pacesetter Michel Fabrizio. However, things began to unravel during the critical Superpole session when, having pushed hard in a bid to put his Monza Superpole nightmare behind him, the Briton again made an earlier than hoped for exit.
Running on a soft race tyre in a bid to save his qualifiers, Haslam finished the first shoot-out phase safely in fifth place, before being one of the first riders to leave the garage for the second session and setting a target time for the competition. Attempting to secure a place in the fastest eight, however, the Honda rider ran off-track and left himself without a competitive lap as the pace hotted up. As a result, his initial target time proved good enough only for tenth on the grid and a place on row three.
"We've tried a few different things on tyres in free practice this afternoon, and the time I did on the race tyre was pretty good, so I opted to use it in the Superpole," Haslam revealed, "I went out in the second Superpole on my first qualifier, but I didn't get the best of laps with it, and it put me in fourth position. Then, when I came in for another qualifier, I made a little bit of a mistake on my first lap and ran off, and never got the chance to use the qualifier.
"Another tenth of a second would have gotten me through to the final shoot-out, so it was luck of the draw, but I am pretty happy with the progress we have made today, and am looking forward to racing tomorrow."
Team manager Johan Stigefelt echoed Haslam's assessment of the day, and also remained confident that his young charge could 'definitely be strong in the races'."
Ten Kate Honda Racing's Ryuichi Kiyonari found himself in a similar situation to Haslam and, having claimed podium results at Monza, will only start from twelfth at Kyalami.
The Japanese ace has been seeking a better balance on his CBR1000RR Fireblade for the 4.24km circuit, which differs greatly in character to Monza, but qualified for Superpole without drama and then cruised through to phase two as one of the fastest 16 riders. However, when it came to finding the speed to make it through to the final shoot-out the Ten Kate machine missed out by just a tenth of a second.
"This morning, the balance of the bike was much better than yesterday, and I had a better feeling with the engine," 'Kiyo' reported, "In free practice, I was changing from one bike to the other to make comparisons, but the feeling went – from the rider, more than the bike, I think, because the settings were the same.
"Tomorrow, I need to be more smooth on the throttle, I think, to get the best from the tyre. But, with a good start, I can try. If I have a start like race one at Monza, I will have to push very hard, but I will never give up."
Haslam and Kiyonari will be joined on row three of the grid by Shinya Nakano, who just missed out on a top eight slot after being bumped to ninth by Aprilia team-mate Max Biaggi's improvement, and local favourite Sheridan Morais, who transcended Kawasaki's usual performance and his own WSBK inexperience to claim eleventh spot.