The Pata Honda World Superbike Team helped get the 2013 championship officially underway in today’s opening practice sessions at Phillip Island in Australia. New team member Leon Haslam ended the day sixth fastest behind provisional pole sitter, Michel Fabrizio, while Jonathan Rea was just two tenths of a second slower in tenth.

2013 World Superbike

After an overcast morning, today’s first qualifying session took place in warm and dry conditions at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit, following four days of testing which started last week.

Following a winter re-surface, the track is showing no signs of being any less abrasive on tyres and both Pata Honda riders have been working on seeking a compromise of grip and longevity to get through Sunday’s two 22-lap, first-round races.

Leon Haslam – P6, 1m31.687s

It felt really good today and we were just concentrating hard on our race set-up. We got a tyre that we did race distance on and the lap times were as good as anybody’s so I’m happy with that. A couple of tyres are definitely not the option – they’re just blistering and I think a couple of people are suffering with that. I think I was only one of a few riders that didn’t use the soft tyre this afternoon so I was quite happy with the lap time, which felt quite easy and comfortable, and I’m happy with the progression we’re making. We’ll spend tomorrow working on tyre life and fine-tuning the electronics, which seem to change day-by-day with the weather and the wind. It’s getting stronger each day so I hope it doesn’t change direction tomorrow – otherwise we’ll have to start all over again!

Jonathan Rea – P10, 1m31.884s

I was excited and nervous this morning, starting a new season, but it was quite tough witnessing the Supersport session this morning, which was full of mayhem and five red flags. I was a little unsure about the track conditions to start but we worked slowly and surely through some electronics changes but, unfortunately, my comments were a little strange because we were struggling to make progress with my feeling on the bike. In the second session this afternoon we did a long run and I picked up a much better rhythm at the end and I felt a lot better on the bike. We still need to do more work with old tyres but we’re not so far away on used tyre pace. I feel we still need to do some work to get an out-and-out lap time. We’ve had a long de-brief and I think it’s clear that we can still improve the engine braking and the initial touch of the throttle.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

I think we’ve had quite a reasonable day. Every time Leon went out he was just fast and he didn’t really bother to put in a tyre to achieve a lap time, so that’s looking good. With Jonathan we’re still fine-tuning settings and we did a long run this afternoon. It was good to give him a bit more of a rhythm but I think we have to do more with the settings and compare to the test here, when we were a bit quicker. The biggest issue here is tyre life and finding a tyre that will do the distance.

2013 World Superbike championship, round one – Phillip Island, Australia

First qualifying results:

  • 1. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia 1m31.317s
  • 2. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 1m31.392s
  • 3. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m31.539s
  • 4. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki 1m31.608s
  • 5. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW 1m31.638s
  • 6. Leon Haslam (GBR) Pata Honda 1m31.687s
  • 7. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 1m31.754s
  • 8. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia 1m31.793s
  • 9. Syvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia 1m31.863s
  • 10. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Pata Honda 1m31.884s