Troy Bayliss will start tomorrow’s World Superbike races at Donington Park from the pole positon spot, after a faultless Superpole lap just moments ago – boosted when his main rival for the honour Troy Corser crashed out.
Bayliss set a scintillating 1.30.37 best, inside the existing Superbike record set by Gregorio Lavilla, to head the front row from Nori Haga, Regis Laconi, and Brit series leader James Toseland.
On his lap, Hannspree Honda star Toseland looked on it from the first turn, and set hearts racing by coming within inches of the grass down Craner as he tried to eke out a solid early lap time, knowing that the Melbourne Loop has been a weak point for his Honda so far this weekend.
Despite maintaining a leading time for the first two sectors, Toseland lost nearly 0.4s on then-leader Nori Haga in the Loop alone to finish with a 1.31.99 best, fractions ahead of works Ducati man Lorenzo Lanzi who starts fifth, and Ruben Xaus on an 06-spec works 999 in sixth.
Meanwhile pole favourite Corser will start tomorrow’s races from eighth, after he uncharacteristically crashed on his lap, losing the front on the entry to Redgate just moments into his lap. He was unhurt, and is still certain to be a factor in the races.
Suzuki star Max Biaggi, in only his third Superpole, set an opening sector time that was inside the previous best, but he lost time in the middle sector of the lap where Haga had been so fast and yet more in the Melbourne Loop final section where many riders are stuggling. He starts seventh.
Haga started early in the session, setting only the ninth best time in qualifying, yet despite a slide on the opening sector which saw him down on the previous best, he recovered to set a new session best nearly a second faster than the existing best which proved second quickest overall.
It was enough to keep him ahead by 0.15s of France’s Regis Laconi who has been solidly setting a strong pace all weekend on his ZX-10R. His team-mate Fonsi Nieto starts 10th.
Suzuki Germany’s Max Neukirchner starts from the third row, setting 11th in Superpole on his ‘K6’ GSX-R1000, which is actually a 2005-spec works bike.
Giovanni Bussei headed the field out as 16th fastest in normal qualifying, and improved to 12th on his 06-spec Ducati 999, which he is driving to races towed behind a car.
Next behind Bussei was Italian compatriot Michel Fabrizio and his Aussie DFX Corse team-mate Steve Martin. Martin is only racing after a last-minute cash injection and by calling in favours when the team thought they had lost a sponsor two weeks ago.
Meanwhile it was a disastrous session for Toseland’s team-mate Robby Rolfo, who suffered some kind of machine problem on his out lap and ran off the track into the gravel at the Melbourne Loop.
Rolfo at least was able to paddle the bike out of the gravel, more than could be said for Aussie rider Josh Brookes, who folded the front at speed at the fast left Schwantz corner, leaving his Alto Evolution Honda battered and bruised. His team-mate Karl Muggeridge put in a solid lap, to secure nith. on the grid for tomorrow’s races.
1. Bayliss 1.30.37
2. Haga 1.31.08
3. Laconi 1.31.38
4. Toseland 1.31.40
5. Lanzi 1.31.50
6. Xaus 1.31.69
7. Biaggi 1.31.69
8. Corser Crashed
9. Muggeridge 1.32.08
10. Nieto 1.32.18
11. Neukirchner 1.32.19
12. Bussei 1.32.74
13. Fabrizio 1.32.75
14. Martin 1.33.54
15. Rolfo Crashed
16. Brookes Crashed