Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 1 April: Régis Laconi turned in the
third quickest time in today's opening qualifying session for the second
round of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island as his team-maten James Toseland concentrated on gaining a good set-up for Sunday's two races.
Both Ducati Xerox Team riders showed blistering speed on their factory 999 machines today, Laconi establishing an outright WSBK championship record of 316 km/h around the spectacular 4.4 km island track in the morning, a top speed that was equalled later in the day by Toseland.
Despite running a fever throughout the day, the 29 year-old Frenchman'
s time of 1m34.084s put him on the provisional front row of the grid behind
the two Suzukis of Aussie Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama from Japan but a
fraction in front of a clutch of five more Australian riders on their home
"I am quite pleased with what we did today, we got through a lot of
work" declared Laconi. "I did a lot of laps but I have no more strength left in me because I've had a high temperature since this morning. Nothing to worry about however because I don't feel sick. Our 999 bikes are going
really quick here but we know that in top speed we are second to no one.
Still a few more things to do to get the bike the way I like it but I'm sure we'll make further progress tomorrow. At the end I put on a qualifying tyre, just to be on the safe side because you never know what the weather will be like tomorrow. We didn't come testing here this winter and the bike is very different from last year's so we virtually have to start from scratch. I really love this track, I might not be Australian but let's just pretend that I am, OK?".
Toseland was the only top rider not to fit a qualifying tyre at the
end of the session and ended up fifteenth quickest, but the reigning
champion was not too concerned, having preferred to focus on his set-up for
Sunday's two races.
"It looks worse than it is because on race tyres we are in the top 3!"
he joked. "We haven't used a qualifier, everyone else in front of me did so
I'm feeling pretty good. I just stayed out there on a race tyre and put the
work in. Around here you've got to know what the bike is going to do
underneath you, and I remember from previous years that qualifying is one
thing but the last six laps are another. I've worked hard today, I put a lot of laps together and my consistency is really good so I am happy. Ignore the timesheet, we can put a qualifier in at any time tomorrow and beat those times. I'm feeling good, every time I cross the line, I'm pleasantly surprised with the times I'm doing".
- 1. Corser (Suzuki) 1m33.191s
- 2. Kagayama (Suzuki) 1m33.787s
- 3. Laconi (Ducati Xerox) 1m34.084
- 4. Pitt (Yamaha) 1m34.094s
- 5. Muggeridge (Honda) 1m34.364s
- 6. Vermeulen (Honda) 1m34.405s
- 7. McCoy (Petronas) 1m34.491s
- 8. Martin (Petronas) 1m34.499s
- 15. Toseland (Ducati Xerox) 1m35.344s