CIA Landlord Insurance Honda riders Jules Cluzel and Hikari Okubo shrugged off injury in the World Supersport Free Practices today, ending the first day at the Chang International Circuit 4th and 7th respectively and securing automatic entry to Tissot Superpole 2 tomorrow.
Jules was a little disappointed not to be faster in the second session of the day, but he is confident he has found the best balance for the Honda CBR600RR for qualifying tomorrow.
Jules said: “I was expecting to go quicker this afternoon but we changed the gearing a lot which lost us some time and also changed my feeling. I also didn’t get a good feeling with the tyre but I think with a new tyre I will be able to be faster. We will do it tomorrow.”
Hikari improved on his time from the morning session and is in a strong position for qualifying. He said: “I am so happy to go to SP2. Position 7 is ok but I want better. I know my good and bad sectors so we will be looking at the data and machine settings so tomorrow I can push harder.”
Robin Mulhauser also improved on the time he set in the morning session, but with the times so tight, his 17th position means he will challenge for the top two places in Superpole 1 to achieve the best grid position in the race.
CIA Landlord Insurance Team Manager, Simon Buckmaster said: “It’s been a really good day, Jules and Hikari have done a great job after the disappointment and the injuries they sustained in Australia. Jules’s pace has been strong. He is always a little disappointed when he’s not fastest, but the things we tried were measured and considered to find the best balance for the bike. We are confident that we have a really good balance and setting for tomorrow to challenge for pole position and for the podium in the race.
Hikari has been fantastic. We weren’t sure when we arrived if he would be able to ride but he is pushing really hard and building his pace. He’s a little weak in the last sector, maybe his collarbone is a factor in this, otherwise looking at his other sectors he might have been challenging for pole. He is looking good for qualifying well tomorrow.
Robin improved 1.8s between the two sessions and he has a really good chance to challenge for a good points finish in the race with his target to be as close to the top ten as possible. This would really kick start his season and we can build from there.”
Free Practices Combined Results
- K. Smith 1’38.259
- D. Kraisart +0.150
- L. Mahias +0.180
- J. Cluzel CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +0.211
- P. Jacobsen +0.284
- C. Polamai + 0.291
- H. Okubo CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +0.293
- C. Gamarino +0.337
- K. Ryde +0.424
- G. Rea + 0.571
- R. Mulhauser CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +1.150