World Superbike Championship leader James Toseland secured his first pole position of the 2007 series today in a thrilling Superpole session. The British rider will start tomorrow's 22-lap race on the top spot for HANNspree Ten Kate Honda after proving his skill with a blistering one-lap dash.
Toseland has been consistently quick during the free practice and qualifying sessions at the hot and sunny Assen Circuit. He entered this afternoon's Superpole session as the third fastest rider and rode a near-perfect lap to secure an impressive time of 1'38.603. In doing so, the 26-year-old set a new Superbike fastest lap for the Assen circuit, beating the previous record held by Troy Bayliss.
Roberto Rolfo improved on yesterday's lap times to qualify in the top sixteen for Superpole at HANNspree Ten Kate Honda's home track. The Italian worked hard aboard the CBR1000RR and put in a good lap to secure eleventh place on the grid for tomorrow's race. Rolfo is aiming for two top ten positions to bring in those all-important points for the team.
Ronald ten Kate, Team Manager:
"We have seen James be consistently fast this weekend, but to see him doing such a great lap on the Superpole is just amazing. We know that he is not usually the best qualifier around but he comes through in the race. However, it seems for the home round he wanted to give us all a present and that's what he did. The main aim for James is always to be on the front row - the pole position is a big bonus. Tomorrow we have a hot race ahead, not only because of the temperatures but also because the race pace of the top five is so close. As for Roby, he is climbing back up the grid and we hope he can bring two top ten finishes tomorrow. On the whole, this has been a great day for HANNspree Ten Kate Honda"
"The main aim for today was to get on the front row so I'm feeling very pleased with the bonus of pole position. It's the third one of my career so it feels pretty special. We've been setting some fast times during the qualifying so I knew we were in with a chance of the pole, but I didn't want to focus on it too much. By the end of the second split I knew it was going to be a good lap, but to get the top spot is great. I'm happy to give the team a good result, but of course the result that counts is tomorrow's race so now I'll concentrate on that."
Troy Corser (6th - 1'39.422 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"Superpole was disappointing, there's no denying it. I made a small mistake on the back part of the circuit and went into one corner a bit fast and ran a bit wide. But the second row is okay, I'm confident in the lap times so I just need to get a good start tomorrow. I'm happy with the race set up and I have done several long runs on the tyres in free practice so I am comfortable with those."
Noriyuki Haga (15th - 1'41.093 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"I lost the front tyre at Mandeveen corner in the middle section of the lap and I had to pick the bike up to save it. Up until that point the bike had been feeling good, though we still need to make some suspension modifications - the data from the Superpole lap will help us with that. I am not thinking about the race win tomorrow right now, I just want to focus on getting our set-up completely sorted and adding to my championship points."
Lorenzo Lanzi: "Today we worked really well, I was able to do a lot of laps both in the morning's qualifying session and in the afternoon's free practice and physically I feel on top form". "I didn't complete a long-run because we already have a clear idea of the choice of tyres and I think it will be the same for all the riders. To be honest I thought that my Superpole lap wasn't enough for the front row, I reckoned on doing at least 1m39s but I made a small mistake that slowed me a bit. The track conditions had clearly got worse because everyone, except for James, was slower than the times set with the soft tyre half an hour before. I'm really pleased with my result and ready for the races tomorrow."
Troy Bayliss: "The front row of the grid is a good place to be here at Assen, but everyone wants to be fastest and today I just didn't put my lap together very well and made a little mistake in the end". "But you'll see tomorrow I'm sure we'll have a couple of good races, we did a lot of laps on the race tyre today and it's going to be very interesting. It's been very warm, but the track's in quite a good condition with some rubber down. If it was ten degrees cooler it would be a bit faster as well but it is what it is. We've got a couple of tyres picked out, the situation is normal with one tyre that everybody likes but it's going to be touch-and-go for the race, and there's one where basically you're a few tenths slower per lap, so we'll have to wait and see tomorrow to see what everybody decides to go on."
Max Biaggi - 4th, 1:39.320:
"We had some problems during the first three sessions and we did a lot of work to get the engine braking and the balance of the bike right. The machine is not perfect yet, and it is better in some parts of the track than others, but at least I am finding it easier to ride than I did yesterday. Also, Superpole is still a relatively new thing for me and I think I am beginning to understand how to attack it better. Of course, the level of grip is so much different on a Superpole lap to when you are on race tyres and that's another thing to understand. It shows that, on race rubber, we have to try and get more traction. It felt a bit strange sitting around in the pits watching another 11 riders go out and try and beat my lap time.
"In Superpole anything can happen - just look at Haga today and Corser at Donington. Having now ridden on this new Assen layout, I can say that I prefer the 'old' Assen track: That was a real challenge and it had a lot of very high-speed turns, so it was great fun to ride. The new design has slowed us up and it's difficult to use full power. Now it's important to have a well-balanced bike, with good throttle response. I'm happy to be on the front row, because this is not an easy track for overtaking and you certainly do not want to get held up at the start."
Yukio Kagayama - 1:39.928:
"My Superpole lap was so-so because I made a few little mistakes, but considering I had only just managed to get into Superpole after normal qualifying, to get on the second row of the grid is good and that makes me a happy. This afternoon was so much better than Friday. We made some changes to the settings and improved the bike; the grip level is now better and I have a better feel for what is going on, but it is not enough.
"I am working a lot on developing another ignition system and, like all things at the start, there have been many things to work on and try and improve. But I think this system has good potential and each time out we learn something more. Sometimes this kind of situation can be a bit frustrating, but this is part of my job and I want to do it well. Tomorrow I am hoping that I can get a good pair of starts and follow with good results."
"I am a happier today because I feel I have improved compared to yesterday. In the qualifying this morning I was riding a lot more smoothly. In my Superpole lap I made a mistake on the brakes and I lost some time, but the lap in general was not too bad. I am not completely happy because I want to further up near the front but compared to the last race it's a lot better. I think the race setting we have at the moment is not too bad. We will do a bit of extra work in the warm-up tomorrow so hopefully the race will go well."
Fonsi Nieto: "The problem is that I can't go faster with the qualifying tyre than the competition. The Superpole lap didn't go so bad but obviously it penalized me a bit. That could mean that we are up to the limit right now and we have to work harder to solve the problems. The positive thing is that I reached a good race pace. I'm not saying that we are in a condition to win but I think that I can achieve a sixth or seventh position. I've already decided which rear tyre to use tomorrow, the hard one, and I'll give my best to get a positive result."
Regis Laconi: "I'm not happy about the feeling I have on the bike, I cannot find good settings under braking, and I don't understand why. I have tried many things and sometimes riding the bike feels fast - but the time is slow. It is not easy to ride right now even if we have had basically consistent track conditions to work with."
- 1. J. Toseland - 1'38.603
- 2. L. Lanzi - 1'39.226
- 3. T. Bayliss - 1'39.256
- 4. M. Biaggi - 1'39.320
- 5. R. Xaus - 1'39.411
- 6. T. Corser - 1'39.422
- 7. M, Neukirchner - 1'39.648
- 8. Y. Kagayama - 1'39.928
- 9. K. Muggeridge - 1'40.057
- 10. F. Nieto - 1'40.288
- 11. R. Rolfo - 1'40.328