Noriyuki Haga grabbed his third consecutive front row start after taking second place in today's grid deciding superpole session at Assen.
The Yamaha Motor Italia star put in his fastest lap of the weekend on his superpole lap, boosting him up three places from his position at the end of regular qualifying.
As always, Haga spent the day's two hour-long sessions working on finding a good set-up for tomorrow's 22-lap races. With his mechanics he was able to solve the tyre chatter problems that plagued him in Friday's practice and qualifying sessions. Team-mate Pitt was the biggest winner in superpole, elevating himself from 13th to eighth after setting his quickest lap of the weekend. The Australian has struggled to find a good set-up for the restyled Assen circuit this weekend, but finally made big progress in the afternoon's free practice session.
Yamaha Motor France's trio of riders were typically close in qualifying, with just three-tenths of a second separating them after the two one hour sessions. Frenchman Sebastien Gimbert was the fastest of the three. He qualifyed for superpole in 12th place but was marginally slower on his grid deciding lap, pushing him back to 15th position on tomorrow's grid. Team-mate Shinichi Nakatomi will line up alongside Gimbert after making the cut for superpole on his Dutch debut. The former Japanese 250cc champion cut over two seconds from his Friday time as his knowledge of the circuit improved although, like Gimbert, he was unable to up his pace on the sticky superpole tyre and was unable to advance up the grid. Norick Abe just missed the cut on the third Yamaha Motor France-entered YZF-R1 and will start from 18th position.
Pole position for tomorrow's race goes to defending champion Troy Corser (Suzuki), with Haga, Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) and series leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati) completing the front row. Weather forecasts suggest a high chance of rain showers throughout the day, which could affect the races on a weekend when all track time has been in dry conditions.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia);
"We made some big improvements today and the feeling with the suspension is now very good. For tomorrow we will make some final changes and finish testing some tyres. If it rains then that will also change the situation. Anyway, it is important to make a good start here so I am happy to be on the front row. We'll try to make the extra changes and then we must see what happens tomorrow."
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia);
"We found a little problem with the bike and were able to make the bike better and more consistent. I was third fastest on the race tyre and although my superpole lap felt pretty good it was close but not close enough. Tomorrow's race is going to be tough and the last few laps are sure to be interesting!"
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France);
"We have done a good job today although I was a little disappointed to lose some places on my superpole lap. I think that we're in good shape for the races and I hope we can get some good results."
Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France);
"I was very pleased to make such a big improvement today. We made a few changes but mostly the improvement was down to me learning the track better. I'm looking forward to the races tomorrow and hope that we can get some good points in both races."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France);
"We've been working step-by-step to improve the bike and get the bike set up for the races. There is a very grippy surface here and we haven't had the same lack of traction that we've had at the last few races, it's just a case of making some small improvements. I know that there is a chance of rain tomorrow but I really hope that it stays dry."
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia);
"Both the riders did an improvment today and there are still some things to try for tomorrow and will do some more tests with the tyres. I'm quite positive tonight but we have to wait until tomorrow as it may be wet. We want it to be dry because you just never know what will happen in wet."
Karl Muggeridge - Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider (6th Position - Superpole Lap 1'39.543 - 42 Laps);
"The bike is working a lot better now and we have found a reasonable setting. We just need to work out which tyre to use. We know that the bigger 200 tyre will work better for durability, but the smaller one is good, yet doesn't last so well. I would like to run the skinny one but we'll have to make a decision. Maybe it will be wet anyway, as there are high odds of rain for tomorrow."
James Toseland - Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider (7th Position - Superpole Lap 1'39.565 - 44 Laps);
"I had a bit of a slide and wheelie out of the first section and I had to apply the rear brake, which lost me maybe a couple of tenths down the back straight, but the rest of the track was pretty good until the last chicane. I changed direction too aggressively and on the camber the whole bike lifted up, so I lost another tenth or two there, which cost me a front row start. We have been pretty consistent on race tyres, we need to be a little bit quicker, maybe three or four tenths, but if we can find that tomorrow, which I think we can, then I will be quietly confident. I'm just not on that front row that I have been used to now."
Alex Barros: "With the new engine we made a good step in the right
direction. It is the way I prefer and we hope to continue like this. The
view for tomorrow is very confidential. The position in the grid is good
and starts go very good. I think I have a good possibility to make a
good job tomorrow in the case it is dry. In the rain it will be a
surprise. But it will be a surprise for everybody."
Troy Corser- 1st, 1:38.965:
After the small problems in qualifying, it's fantastic to take Superpole today. It's been a bit of a while, but once we'd improved the clutch feeling and got some more grip I knew that I was in for a chance of a front row place on the grid. And, to be honest, that's what I expected, so to get Superpole is a bonus. Front row is so important here, as any race, because the first section of the track consists of four or five slow turns and you have to be up the front or else you'll get left behind. Tyre-life is going to be a real factor tomorrow because nobody will have good grip in the second half of the race. I really hope that it doesn't rain tomorrow because that'll ruin the races and not make it so much for the fans.
Yukio Kagayama- 3rd, 1:39.176:
I like the new section of the track and maybe that's because we are all seeing it for the first time so nobody has a big advantage or experience over me. For sure tomorrow's races are going to be very hard because of the tyres. I don't think there will be much grip in the latter part of the race and there will be many slides. I am happy that Troy-san took pole today but there is a lot of pressure on me to beat him off the line and get to the first turn ahead. He is a very hard rider, but I am ready for the big battle.
Superpole and Starting Grid;
- 1. Corser T, Suzuki - 1'38.965
- 2. Haga N, Yamaha - 1'39.009
- 3. Kagayama Y, Suzuki - 1'39.176
- 4. Bayliss T, Ducati - 1'39.304
- 5. Barros A, Klaffi Honda - 1'39.419
- 6. Muggeridge K, Honda - 1'39.543
- 7. Toseland J, Honda - 1'39.565
- 8. Pitt A, Yamaha - 1'39.756