Troy Corser lived up to his reputation as the king of superpole in Qatar today, setting a blistering lap time to grab pole position for his first races with the Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team.
The new-for-2007 YZF-R1 has made an immediate impact in its first world championship outing with Noriyuki Haga setting the pace yesterday and Corser taking pole today. Haga continued his great form in superpole and will join his team-mate on the front row for tomorrow's races.
Corser, who will sit on pole for the 39th time tomorrow, didn't have the ideal preparation for his superpole lap after crashing at the end of the preceding free practice session. The Australian rider had gone out to test the soft qualifying tyre used for superpole but slid off as he entered the second turn.
His job looked doubly difficult when superbike newcomer Max Biaggi (Suzuki) became the first man to record a sub 1:59 lap time in superpole. Corser, who elected to run a tried and tested race tyre rather than the super-sticky qualifier, simply put the crash behind him and stormed to a 1:58.402 lap - one-third of a second quicker than the Italian and the fastest ever superbike time around the Losail circuit.
Team-mate Haga was delighted to secure an all-important front row start for tomorrow's 18-lap races. The Japanese star also opted not to use the softer qualifying tyre, preferring to use the softest race option instead. Haga's lap was, by his own admission, less than perfect but the combination of the R1's power and Haga's own skill and determination helped him stop the clock in 1:59.294, good enough for fourth place on tomorrow's grid.
Team YZF Yamaha rider Shinichi Nakatomi was the first rider to set off on his superpole lap after ending the two hours of qualifying in 16th position. The Japanese rider was unable to improve his time or qualifying position and will start the races from the fourth row after recording a time of 2:02.301. Despite failing to go faster on the soft superpole tyre, Nakatomi feels he has a good set up for the races and can make up positions as he regularly did last season.
Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team);
"I'm delighted to get the pole, although I think that Yamaha and the team are even more excited! You always just go out to have a clean lap and not make any mistakes. The front row is what you want but pole is always a nice bonus.
"I had a little crash just before the superpole. I went out on the qualifier and I don't really know what happened. I guess that I was probably taking it too easy because the back end just slid away as I turned in for the second corner. It was unfortunate. I got caught out yesterday as well, when went down on some oil, but I'm thankful that I slid down the way I did, because it could have been a nasty highside.
"It's a new bike and Nori and I are working really well together in the box. We're both doing our own things but we're also sharing a lot of information, especially on the suspension settings and tyre selections, to get the best out of the bike. I've got a really good feeling with the team and even though we've only been working together a short time we're working together well and it can only get better. The track is getting better the more we ride on it and I thought the tyres worked pretty well today. I did a lot of laps with James (Toseland) in practice and our lap times were pretty good. If we can make a good tyre choice then I think we should be up the front tomorrow."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team);
"I'm very happy to be on the front row. During the superpole I made a mistake with my braking early in the lap, so I pushed hard and made another small mistake. But the lap time was good and the front row is always the target. We did a lot of work on the suspension today as we are trying to get the maximum from the tyre in race condition and I think that we can feel the benefit of this tomorrow."
Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha);
"I think we are ready for the races. This is what we concentrate on during the practice and I have been able to make lots of consistent laps. We are learning more about this new bike all the time and I think we can improve more tomorrow."
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team);
"We did not really expect to make the pole after Troy's crash but he was very focused and did a great job. Noriyuki's superpole lap was also done on the soft race tyre, rather than the qualifier, because he prefers to use this. So Troy on pole and Nori on the front row is a great result for the team and I hope we can continue the good results in the races tomorrow."
"Well, that was something different!" declared Troy about his Superpole. "I think everyone will be happy to see that but not us! We haven't been at our best all weekend actually. It's really strange because the last test I did here I did a 58.1 and now the best I've done all weekend has been a 59.5 with exactly the same setting from last time. We're just having some difficulty in getting comfortable on the bike, my Superpole lap didn't feel good and it just didn't happen. That's it really, now we put it behind us and hopefully we can do a good race tomorrow. We knew it was going to be a hard weekend but it's just looking a bit harder than normal. Honestly my long run is the only good thing I've done this weekend, 10 laps in 1m59s, so that's a good sign and I'm feeling pretty confident that I will be OK in the second part of the race."
"I really hoped to get on the front row of the grid because all weekend I've always been in the top 4 and it was important for the start" declared Lorenzo. "Now Troy and I are both on the second row, we have to hope for a good start and do the first few laps well. We're pretty clear on the choice of tyres, we'll just have to see how they work tomorrow and what sort of weather conditions there are because the cooler it is the better it is for us. The bike set-up feels OK for the race, unfortunately I made an error in my Superpole lap at the final corner and lost those vital tenths of a second that would have put me on the front row of the grid."
"I was really disappointed about the outcome of the Superpole, just because it's been going so well all weekend that I felt that it was time for a pole position. For the race tomorrow we have a good set-up, I've had a meeting with the team since the Superpole to fine tune the bike for tomorrow and I'm feeling confident. I think there will be four or five of us in the serious battle for first place so it should be a good race"
Max Biaggi - 2nd, 1:58.724:
"Superpole was another new experience for me and I can tell you that I was a bit nervous before I started it. I didn't want to make any mistakes or crash, so I tried to ride as smoothly as I could and get round in the best time. I am very happy because my Superpole lap was the fastest lap I've done this weekend and it means that I am well-placed on the front row of the grid. The bike is working well and I am enjoying all these new experiences, but what matters now is what happens in the races tomorrow. I think we can make a good result and for that I have to thank my Alstare team for all the work they've done. I am just sorry that Francis Batta is not here to see us and I hope he watches it on TV and we can give him a good result."
Yukio Kagayama - 7th, 1:59.964:
"I think I made small mistakes almost all round the circuit in my Superpole lap and that lost a lot of time. That was mainly because I did not have a good feeling with the qualifying tyre. Maybe I was a bit too aggressive in the first part and by the time I smoothed myself out, it was too late. But my set-up for the race is good - better than for Superpole - and I am confident that I can make good results. After all, second row at this track is not so bad because the first turn is a long way from the start. As long as I make a good start, I can be on the podiums."
Fonsi Nieto: "I definitely feel much better today, maybe up to 75%, but we had some things to overcome with the set-up. And today almost feels like my first day, because I have been ill. I think for raceday I should be OK. In Superpole I made a couple of mistakes into a couple of corners, but I feel I can do better. I could probably have taken a second row start. But Superpole can be like this. I hope to feel better tomorrow and we will continue working hard through warm-up and in both races."
Regis Laconi: "I just don't have the right feeling on the front, and if I push harder I just run wide. All my fast laps were like that, and on this track if you go wide you will not have the best lap time. I wish I was happier but the feeling is not normal, and we have tried many things to improve it. We have to think and try something in warm-up tomorrow morning, but this does not feel like the bike I rode at the tests, even though it is just the same. The track here changes its character for sure."
"This is my first Superpole performance with the CBR1000RR and I am still learning how to get the best from the bike. I am happy to be starting from tenth position as I am confident of improving even further in tomorrow's races. The strong wind died down towards the end of Superpole. This caused me a few problems but I don't think it effected the outcome. I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Superpole lap times:
- 1, T. Corser - 1'58.402
- 2, M. Biaggi - 1'58.724
- 3, J. Toseland - 1'59.005
- 4, N. Haga - 1'59.294
- 5, L. Lanzi - 1'59.537
- 6, T. Bayliss - 1'59.668
- 7, Y. Kagayama - 1'59.964
- 8, M. Neukirchner - 2'00.098
- 9, F. Nieto - 2'00.240
- 10 R. Rolfo - 2'00.414