Brno (Czech Republic) Saturday 25th July: it was a hard-fought Superpole for the World Superbike riders this afternoon on the Brno racetrack and, having been fast in all of the sessions so far, Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio continued to be a protagonist in today's spectacle, pushing hard with his Ducati 1198 throughout the three mini-Superpole sessions to secure himself a front row position, second, on tomorrow's grid.
In this morning's second qualifying session, and on a cooler track (25°C), the Ducati Xerox riders continued to fight, Michel Fabrizio in close competition against the other front-runners and Noriyuki in a personal battle with the pain in his left scapula. Nine of the riders who qualified for Superpole managed to improve on the times they set yesterday, but Michel and Nori were not among them; Michel's fastest lap yesterday was enough for him to conclude qualifying very near the top of the timesheets, in fourth position, less than a tenth of a second from the three fastest riders Biaggi (Aprilia), Spies (Yamaha) and local man Smrz on the Ducati 1198 of privateers Team Guandalini.
Noriyuki continued to experience the same problems as yesterday, suffering pain especially during braking, meaning that he was unable to improve on yesterday's performance and just qualified for the afternoon's Superpole in eighteenth position.
Both before and during the free practice Noriyuki was seen by Doctor Corbascio of the Clinica Mobile who administered a local anesthetic to the muscles around the scapula. The treatment had some effect and in the first phase of the Superpole Noriyuki went straight out on a qualifying tyre and was able to register a very fast time, passing easily into the second Superpole session. Unfortunately stage two was tougher for the Japanese rider and at the end of the twelve minute session, despite having lapped on the second available qualifier, Haga was unable to climb higher than fourteenth on the leader board, thus concluding his Superpole. Michel meanwhile, very much at ease on the Brno track, passed without difficulty from the first to the second and third mini-Superpoles, exiting in the final phase on the second qualifying tyre and lapping fast enough to conclude in second position overall, just 0.082 of a second behind pole-sitter Ben. Ben and Michel will share the front row tomorrow with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) in third and Jonathan Rea (Honda) in fourth.
2nd - Michel Fabrizio Speaks... (1m58.9s)
"The weekend is going very well and I've been one of the fastest in every session; I just hope this is also the case tomorrow! Today's Superpole was great, a very close fight with me once again very close to Ben, missing out on the pole by so little to him. I'm feeling confident about the races because we completed a good long-run this afternoon and I'm very happy with the set-up of my bike. It'll be a three-way duel tomorrow I guess and I hope to make a strong start because Ben and Max will surely be up there. I'm just sorry that Nori is missing from this group this weekend."
14th - Noriyuki Haga Speaks... (2m00.2s)
"It's not been easy, the pain is worse than yesterday. We made some changes overnight to the bike but to be honest they didn't make much difference and the pain is constant, worse when braking. Before the free practice Doctor Corbascio gave me an injection to kill some of the pain in my shoulder but it was still hurting me during the Superpole. I pushed as hard as I could in the first two sessions but it wasn't hard enough and I finished 14th. I'll go back to the Clinica tomorrow morning to see what we can do before the races but I know that tomorrow will be tough."
1. Spies (Yamaha) 1m58.8s; 2. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1m58.9s; 3. Biaggi (Ducati) 1m59.0s; 4. Rea (Honda) 1m59.7s; 5. Byrne (Ducati) 1m59.7s; 6. Corser (BMW) 2m00.0s; ..... 14. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 2m00.2s