Six-time Superbike World Championship race winner Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) scored his first WSBK career pole position today at Monza, holding off a field packed with potential pole men at his home race.
His best Superpole lap was a new track best 1’42.121, putting him on pole for the first time in his four year Superbike World Championship career. His average lap speed for his new record lap was 203.653 km/h. Biaggi also set the fastest top speed in World SBK history today, hitting a recorded 330.2 km/h (205 MPH).
Max, cheered on by a vocal local support, was followed by Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) on a 1’42.154, only 0.033 from topping the pre-race rankings. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) finished off the first row, with the second row headed by championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad), who fell late in the session, James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) completed the top eight riders. Sykes gave Kawasaki its best qualifying performance for some time and with slipstreaming ruling the races at Monza, the Englishman is keen to get to grips with tomorrow’s races. Crutchlow had set a new best mark in Superpole 2 with a 1’42.255, until Biaggi improved it still further in Superpole 3.
Daisaku Sakai (Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team) was 21st in qualifying at a track that is new to him and his entire team. A fall in practice hurt his right shoulder, which also held him back when it came to final qualifying.
Max Biaggi says: "It’s been a great Saturday for us but it’s not Sunday! So far it’s the best qualifying we did ever, there are no points for Superpole but it’s the emotion that counts! I want to dedicate it to all the team, because they are working very hard. This is a big step forward for us because at the last race we started on the third row. We are running a good pace compared to Yamaha and Honda and we’re looking forward to tomorrow. A good tyre at the end of 18 laps is going to make all the difference, especially at the Parabolica."
Cal Crutchlow says: "All credit to Max, he did a good lap. We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole 2 – a 1’42.2 on a seven lap old race tyre, then we put two qualifiers in the last session and never had any grip so I think the race tyre is better than the qualifier around here. It was a good lap and the races are going to be close and tough tomorrow."
Leon Haslam says: "I’m disappointed not to be on the front row but I am pretty happy with my bike and feel confident about the races tomorrow. I was on a quick lap in final Superpole, but got pushed out wide by James, so I thought I’d go for it on the second lap, but this time Tom was on my racing line and I had to go round him to get past and lost time in the process.
"It’s good that the first turn is a long way from the start and as long as I get off the line well I’ll be with the front guys for sure. The first chicane is going to be tight and I hope nobody tries to do anything stupid there on the first lap. I think that a wet race might be better for the Championship, but I guess we’d all rather prefer two dry races and a lot of close-quarter racing. We’re probably going to get that anyway!"
Sylvain Guintoli says: "Once again, I am having a problem finding a good rhythm and being here in Monza for the first time is no real excuse. It’s my job as a racer to learn tracks quickly and I have not succeeded as well as I wanted to. I’m disappointed not to have done better today and now my job tomorrow is going to be a lot harder as I will be starting from the fourth row of the grid. The other thing is that I didn’t manage to improve much when I was on qualifying tyres and that is something I will have to get used to and sort out.
Michel Fabrizio says: "Today’s result is the best response to the gossip that was circulating in the paddock yesterday. Within the team we are working well together, are united, and together will be protagonists once more. I’m of course very happy with today’s results. We needed to get back on track with a result like this, after three rounds in which I’ve not really been present, at least not at the front where I think the factory riders should be! I’m also pleased that, after successful tests at Misano last week, we are doing well – so far – in front of the Italian crowd. It’s the first of the "home" races and so of course Ducati and myself would love to take two great race results here."
Noriyuki Haga says: "This morning conditions were pretty much the same as yesterday and I was finding it difficult, especially through the first part of the track.Then in the Superpole I found that I had better grip on the race tyre than with the qualifier. I was lacking grip at the rear and, though I pushed as hard as I can, it was impossible to make a very fast lap. I’m fairly happy with the race set-up but it’s going to be another tough race day."
Jonathan Rea says: "I guess it was quite good and I’m happy with the front row because I’m not really much of a qualifier – Assen must have been a one-lap wonder! As long as I get off the line well tomorrow, I’ve got some good race pace, the bike’s working good and I’m quite confident, so we’ll have to see. I’m really excited about the races and I intend to dig deep; there’ll be a load of slipstreaming going on. It’s going to be fun and games tomorrow for sure, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind being the grandstands watching!"
Max Neukirchner says: "So, ninth is not so bad, but I made a little mistake on my quick lap and got in the wrong gear at the chicane, otherwise I might have been on the second row, which would have been better. But I’m really happy that we’ve been able to make more progress with the bike here this weekend. I am able to brake deeper into the corner, pick the bike up more quickly and accelerate out better. We’ve got one or two other ideas to try in warm-up tomorrow; we might go a little softer at the front and then I just need a good start. I’ve practised quite a lot this weekend already."
Ruben Xaus says: I am really happy today. I want to dedicate today’s result to my crew who always believed in me. We found out some important things about the bike’s set-up during the weekend in Assen, and at the end of that race weekend I was able to go at the same speed as the other guys. We started off the weekend here well, and we were able to get on this far. I am quite confident for tomorrow. Unfortunately on my final lap in Superpole 3, I was quite aggressive going into the chicane and touched the kerb with the engine cover. The bike kicked me off, and that was it. However, finishing sixth today with used tyres is really good."
Troy Corser says: Today’s Superpole was strange. I feel a lot more confident and comfortable with the race tyre than with the qualifying tyre. We are struggling a little bit with stopping the bike. However, I am confident we can go at a good race pace tomorrow, and also hope for a good start. From the third row it is tough to make it to the top, but I am sure I can make up a couple of positions. It will be crucial to get the first chicane after the start right. It is still quite tight, and I expect chaos there tomorrow. "
Cal Crutchlow says: It was a shame to miss out on pole by less than a tenth of a second but all credit to Max for a good lap. We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole two on a seven lap old race tyre with a 42.2, then put two qualifiers in during the last session and I didn’t feel like I had the same level of grip from them. It’s going to be tough racing tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it and I think it’ll be close. Being part of an Italian team and having our workshop literally a stone’s throw from the Lesmo corner it’s been good to deliver good results so far this weekend. They’ve put in a good effort, James has ridden to two fantastic podiums recently at Assen."
James Toseland says: We used both our qualifiers in the second Superpole heat and unfortunately didn’t have one for the last session, however I would have done a mid 42 but I made a mistake at Lesmo on my first lap, and being a race tyre I really needed to get it in on that lap so I lost a few tenths there. That would have put me on the front row, and to say you can get there on a race tyre is encouraging. We had a problem with an engine this morning in qualifying and a different gearbox in the other bike, which meant we couldn’t run with the best gearing in Superpole. If it can stay dry tonight then we can try a few things in tomorrow’s warm up and I’m quietly confident we can do well in the races."
Carlos Checa says: "Today went a lot better than first qualifying", said Carlos. "We’ve made some steps forward with regard to the bike’s rideability and we were able to better understand why we were having problems through certain sections of the track. Tomorrow will be difficult and to get into the top ten will be hard but we’ll try to take home as many points as possible."
Shane Byrne says: "To start from fifteenth will be hard but I’ll give it my all and try to make a good race", said the English rider. "We have done some good work in the garage over these two days and tomorrow it will be important to start well and stick with the guys ahead of us."
Jakub Smrz says: "I’m disappointed I crashed, I just lost control of the bike when I was entering the Variante Ascari. I did manage to return to the pits just in time to get on the second bike. However, I only had one full-speed lap and barely missed the second session of Superpole".
Monza Superbike Superpole Results
1. 3 Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’42.121
2. 35 Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’42.154
3. 84 Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’42.499
4. 65 Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’42.566
5. 91 Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’42.633
6. 111 Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1’42.725
7. 52 Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’42.789
8. 66 Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’43.111
9. 76 Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 1’43.410
10. 99 Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’43.431
11. 7 Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’43.506
12. 11 Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’43.508
13. 2 Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’43.530
14. 50 Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’43.691
15. 67 Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’43.813
16. 41 Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’43.957
17. 96 Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’44.291
18. 77 Vermeulen C. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’44.802
19. 57 Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’44.878
20. 15 Baiocco M. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’46.180