Imola (Italy), Saturday 25 September: for the World Superbike riders, on track today at Imola, it was a day conditioned by the elements. Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga faced the first wet Superpole of the season and closed in tenth and fifteenth position respectively.
In the morning’s second qualifying, overnight rain meant that, on an already wet track, not one of the riders was able to improve on their best times set yesterday in the dry. Noriyuki chose not to ride while Michel completed a strong of laps although, having concluded yesterday in fourth and fifth position respectively they were already assured of safe passage to this afternoon’s Superpole.
In the early afternoon the two factory riders made the most of the final practice session before the all-important Superpole. Both Noriyuki and Michel worked hard with their technicians, to refine the set-up of the bikes ahead of tomorrow’s races.
Superpole 1: unfortunately, as expected, today’s Superpole was conditioned by the weather. The rain intensified during the first phase and the track surface became increasingly slippery. The two Ducati Xerox riders, despite lamenting a lack of track, were able to record the eleventh (Haga) and the thirteenth (Fabrizio) fastest times, thus progressing to the second phase.
Superpole 2: conditions worsened, causing Crutchlow, Byrne and then Xaus to crash. Italian rider Michel continued to struggle due to the lack of grip, and ultimately closed in tenth, while Japanese rider Noriyuki, believing that he wouldn’t be able to make further progress in the dangerous conditions, returned to the garage early, concluding today’s Superpole in fifteenth position.
“It was very difficult out there today; the Superpole becomes much more risky in the wet. Even on rain tyres there was no traction and the rear of the bike was sliding around all over the place. In the second mini-session conditions got worse before they got better; I tried my best to hold on to a place in the top eight but it just wasn’t possible today. I’ll be starting from tenth and it’ll be very tough; I’m disappointed as I thought we’d finish much further up today.”
“Track conditions were very strange. In the second phase I didn’t think I could do any more to be honest and, risking a fall in the wet conditions, I decided to come back in. My technicians told me to make another lap but we were out of time. Unfortunately it then stopped raining right at the end and some of the guys improved on their times, which pushed me down to fifteenth position. It won’t be the first time I start from the fourth row of the grid and I’ll do my best, especially off the line.”
TIMES (Superpole): 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 2m07.3; 2. Smrz (Aprilia) 2m07.3; 3. Haslam (Suzuki) 2m08.2; 4. Scassa (Ducati) 2m08.4; 5. Lanzi (Ducati) 2m08.4; 6. Corser (BMW) 2m09.8; 7. Biaggi (Aprilia) 2m09.9; 8. Xaus (BMW) 2m10.4….. 10. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 2m11.1; 15. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 2m11.6