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Chili on track for pole

Published: 25 March 2003

Pier-Francesco Chili – the oldest man in WSB – proved to still be one of the fastest after claiming provisional pole position for the Phillip Island WSB race at the first qualifying session today.

Chili’s time of 1:33.729s was a comfortable 0.2s quicker than Laconi’s second place time as many of the top riders struggled to find set-up and tyres to suit the demanding and ultra-fast Phillip Island track.

Chili said: " It is a great feeling to be fastest but it is only Friday so I will not be happy until this happens tomorrow. "

Hodgson was clearly the fastest Brit with a time of 1:34.273. He said: " The new 999 has only been tested to any real level at Valencia. What worked there is miles away from what we need here and it took us the free practice session this morning and half of the qualifying session to get that sorted. "

Troy Corser is on target for another front row start, after coming home fourth in 1:34.508, but James Haydon is still lagging behind in 17th place only managing 1:36.111.

Walker, 10th with 1:34.906, and Toseland, 7th with 1:34.661, are both still struggling with set-up but with another day – and good weather forecasted – they don’t seem bothered by their relatively low placings.

Walker said: " We didn’t use any qualifying tyres in that session and the track doesn’t feel like it has much grip. I am still learning the track because I have only raced here once before and we still have a lot to do on the set-up of the bike before we can push harder. "

Ruben Xaus suffered a huge crash that completely demolished his 999 after he lost the front end going in to turn 12. The Fila Ducati rider was unhurt and managed to take his second bike to provisional sixth place with a best time of 1:34.585.

He said: " We need to work a lot more on the bike, the set-up is still not perfect. If tomorrow the grip is better than today, I'm sure Neil and I can both ride in a low 1:33s with race tyres "

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