Misano Adriatico (Italy), Saturday 20th June: the crowds were witness to an exciting and super-fast Superpole today at the Misano World Circuit. The Ducati Xerox Team is satisfied with the results of its riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga who, on board their factory Ducati 1198 machines, will line up in fourth and sixth position respectively on tomorrow’s grid. The Ducati 1198s of Smrz (Team Guandalini) and Byrne (Team Sterilgarda) will join those of the Ducati Xerox Team on the front two rows.
A short sharp rain shower coming on just fifteen minutes before the morning’s second qualifying left the track very wet and meant that no-one could improve on the times set yesterday afternoon in first qualifying. Neither of the Ducati Xerox riders completed many laps but Michel Fabrizio was nevertheless the fastest rider on track once again and both him and Noriyuki are at least now comfortable with the track whether wet or dry tomorrow. Fabrizio thus qualified for Superpole in first place; Haga in eighth.
The track then dried out in time for the early afternoon free practice session and this, combined with cooler temperatures compared to yesterday, meant everyone on track reduced their times significantly. Although rain threatened throughout the subsequent Superpole, it remained dry and spectators were treated to three hotly-contested mini-Superpoles.
Both Noriyuki and Michel passed from the first to the second phase of Superpole without difficulty. The level of competition stepped up a gear in the second phase and various riders registered very fast laps, with the two Ducati Xerox men finishing the twelve minute session in seventh (Fabrizio) and eighth (Haga). In the third and final stage, four of the eight riders, Fabrizio included, beat the "best lap" record that Corser set last year, highlighting the level of competitiveness on show at Misano today. Michel and Noriyuki fought to the bitter end for the positions that count with Michel ultimately snatching a place on the front row, fourth, for tomorrow’s races and Noriyuki concluding in sixth, thereby securing a second row position. A further two Ducati 1198s will line up on the front rows tomorrow, with Jakub Smrz (Team Guandalini) taking the first pole of his Superbike career in front of Shane "Shakey" Byrne of the Sterilgarda squad who will start in fifth with the same bike.
Michel Fabrizio Speaks… (P4, 1m35.8s)
"It’s a shame that I made an error in the first split, losing a few tenths, because otherwise it would have been a much better time, putting me in second or third I think. Anyway I must say well done to Smrz who put together an extremely fast lap and I am very happy to have made it on to the front row. We can’t predict what the weather will be like tomorrow but we’ve tried both the race tyres that we have available and I’m happy with both of them so we’re feeling confident that we’ll be competitive regardless of the conditions. I have a feeling that tomorrow I’ll be fighting against Ben because today I’ve seen that we have more or less the same pace."
Noriyuki Haga Speaks… (P6, 1m36.2s)
"I’m still fairly happy with the way things are going. Tomorrow it’s not supposed to rain, at least we hope not! In the morning we want to make some small changes that will hopefully improve the feeling I have with the front of the bike and then we’ll be ready to race. For me it is not so important that I’m not on the front row, but having said that tomorrow I plan to start strong and try to stay there out front."
TIMES (Superpole): 1. Smrz (Ducati) 1m35.4s; 2. Rea (Honda) 1m35.6s; 3. Spies (Yamaha) 1m35.6s; 4. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1m35.8s; 5. Byrne (Ducati) 1m36.2s; 6. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 1m36.2s; 7. Checa (Honda) 1m36.5s; 8. Kiyonari (Honda) 1m36.8s