Troy Bayliss and Lorenzo Lanzi got
the Ducati Xerox Team's 2006 World Superbike Championship campaign off to a
fantastic start when they set first and second quickest time in the opening
Superpole session of the year at Losail, in Qatar.
Australian former world champion Bayliss, who returned to Superbikes
this year after three seasons in MotoGP, was the only rider to dip under the
two minute mark as he powered his 999 to a time of 1m59.696s to take the
first pole of the year, while his Italian team-mate Lanzi more than made up
for yesterday's qualifying session by grabbing the second place grid slot,
three-tenths behind Bayliss. Both riders took the unusual step of running
race tyres in the one-lap Superpole dash, because Ducati Corse engineers had
correctly judged that the performance of the Pirelli race tyre on the 999
was better than the qualifying tyre over the entire lap.
"It feels great to be back in Superbikes and it's always nice to have
pole position" declared Troy. "I did three years in MotoGP and it did me a
lot of good so now I've come back as a stronger all round rider. I actually
expected to do a little better in Superpole but I did enough to get pole and
I'm happy with that. We'll see how things are looking tomorrow, but I'll try
and get the best possible start and then play it by ear. There are two or
three guys who can give me a few problems, starting with Lorenzo, who's
going well at the moment but we mustn't underestimate Corser and Pitt as
"It feels great to start on the front row alongside Troy" declared
Lorenzo, "and we couldn't have asked for a better start for the Ducati Xerox
Team in this year's championship. Yesterday we had a few problems with the
wet conditions and I was very careful not to ruin things by making silly
mistakes, but today I immediately got on the pace and I believe that I
showed in qualifying and the Superpole that I can be up there at the front.
The bike is going great and the suspension modifications really help me to
have a good feeling. Tomorrow I'm sure that the two races will be really
difficult because there are a lot of aggressive riders out there but I am
really satisfied with my performance today".
Steve Martin said: "It has been a really good positive start for us. I still believe this is one of the hardest tracks for us, so to be where we are at this stage of the season is a good sign for the rest of the year. It's a credit to everyone involved in the project. We have been able to concentrate on the set-up of the bike today and we are still working on rear tyre grip, so we will try some things in morning warm-up which will hopefully take us even further forward. My Superpole lap was great but it would have been good to finish on the second row, although it's such a long drag to the first corner that anything can happen at the start."
Steve finished the morning qualifying session in eighth place but it was a traumatic start to the day for team-mate Craig Jones.
He crashed on his out-lap of the morning session, suffering a flesh wound on his kneecap that needed multiple stitches. Despite a desperate attempt to record a qualifying time for that session, in which he missed recording a valid lap by just six seconds, his qualifying time in the wet yesterday allowed him to compete in tomorrow's races, although he will be at the back of the grid.
Craig Jones said: "The crash was probably down to inexperience on my part. I cannot honestly say I know 100 per cent what happened but I don't mind saying I made a mistake. I followed two other riders into the corner and was going slower than they were, so it was a bizarre crash. I lost about a square inch of skin and the wound had to be stitched together. I could definitely feel it on track in the afternoon but I will take a painkiller for the races. In the afternoon I was still having a problem with stability so we have a lot to try in 20 minutes tomorrow morning. The others' lap times on qualifiers are not anything special so I am not beaten yet for the race, as when I find something for the set-up I think I will take chunks off my time."
James Toseland - SBK Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider;
"That was a good result for me, with a new team, so I'm happy. It took alit bit of time to get up to speed this weekend, what with the rain yesterday and the settings being very different from the ones we had for the most recent test in Valencia. I don't fully understand the bike yet, so it took time to get it right, but as we can see we are getting there now. My entire previous Superbike career, even the year I did in British Championship, has been conducted on twin-cylinder bikes. But as we know, with the Ten Kate Hondas there has never been a lack of speed. If you have the speed then that's half the battle, and the Honda is a great package. The team has welcomed me with open arms, and we are working well together."
Karl Muggeridge - SBK Winston Ten Kate Honda Rider;
"It cools down in the afternoon here and during Superpole it had become quite cool. We opted to put a slightly harder front tyre in but that was decided a couple of hours before. My last thought when I left the garage was, 'should have gone for a softer one.' I pushed and pushed but I was a little hot into the corner. It was the first of a group of three rights, and it's fourth gear there, so it was a pretty fast crash. I tried to save it but I ran out of track. It could have been worse because my fast lap in regular qualifying was second fastest of all and that means I only drop down to start form the second row."
Superpole: The top 16 qualifiers go head-to-head in a one lap timed
shoot-out against the clock. The fastest rider of the qualifying
sessions is the last to start. Each rider has one sighting lap, followed
by the crucial flying lap, then a slow-down lap. The final grid is
determined by the times set in this session, with the fastest riders
taking pole position.
- 1. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1m59.696s
- 2. Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 2m00.028s
- 3. Pitt (Yamaha) 2m00.110s
- 4. Toseland (Honda) 2m00.112s
- 5. Corser (Suzuki) 2m00.206s
- 6. Haga (Yamaha) 2m00.613s
- 7. Kagayama (Suzuki) 2m00.895s
- 8. Muggeridge (Honda) 2m00.745s
- 9. Martin (Petronas) 2m00.940s
- 10. Barros (Honda) 2m00.960s