Xaus takes first WSB pole

Published: 23 September 2003

Ruben Xaus has taken his first ever pole position in the World Superbike championship after clocking the fastest lap in the Superpole session for the penultimate round at Imola.

The Spanish factory Ducati rider took his 999 to a time of 1:48.636, just beating Troy Corser’s 2001 Superpole record of 1:48.694. He was the only rider in the session to dip below the 1:49 mark, bettering his qualifying time by 0.386 seconds.

Regis Laconi looked as though he might be able to hold on to the top spot for Sunday’s race setting a time of 1:49.042. He held off Frankie Chili, Chris Walker and Neil Hodgson, but Xaus’s fastest lap of the weekend so far knocked him off by more than three tenths of a second.

Newly crowned champion Hodgson and fellow Brit James Toseland finish off the front row of the grid with Chili having to settle for fifth as the highest ranking Italian.

Troy Corser put in a storming performance on the Foggy FP1 after coming to the circuit expecting very little from the Malaysian superbike. The Australian put in a 1:49.880 lap, his best time of the weekend and good enough to see him start the race from sixth on the grid.

Corser was followed home by fellow Aussie Steve Martin on the DFX Ducati 998 who set a 1:49.921 lap with Juan Bautista Borja finishing the second row of the grid with a 1:50.188.

Chris Walker had promised to do well after setting the fourth highest time in qualifying but the British rider was obviously uncomfortable and dropped 1.3 seconds in his flying lap to start the race in 10th.

Spanish rider Sergio Fuertes must have been ecstatic to get a place in his first ever Superpole session but the as the first rider out he rode too slowly on the out lap, letting his tyres cool too much. When he wound on the power for the start of his flying lap his rear tyre spun up and he nearly high-sided his Suzuki GSX-R1000. In a fantastic display of control he managed to save the bike but the incident put him off for the rest of the lap and he only managed to clock a 1:53.843 lap, more than five seconds down on Xaus.

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