Brno lap record holder Noriyuki Haga once again showed his liking for the Czech circuit by obliterating the opposition to claim pole position for tomorrow’s two Superbike World Championship races, the first time he has started at the front of the grid since 2002.

The Japanese Yamaha Motor Italia ace gunned his YZF-R1 around the fast and flowing circuit in a time of 2:00.457, over half a second quicker than second placed James Toseland (Honda). Ducati riders Lorenzo Lanzi and Troy Bayliss complete the front row for tomorrow’s race. It is the third time Haga has won pole position in a world superbike event and the first pole for his Yamaha Motor Italia team since they moved up to the class at the beginning of 2005.

Yamaha Motor France’s trio of riders narrowly missed out on superpole, with Frenchman Sebastien Gimbert less than two-hundreds of a second behind Alex Barros (Honda) in the 16th and final superpole position. Meanwhile the team’s Japanese riders Shinichi Nakatomi and Norick Abe had difficulty with the surprisingly low grip levels on the circuit. Nakatomi made big progress in the afternoon session. He was the 12th fastest rider in the one-hour session, one place behind Haga and one ahead of Pitt, but will start in 19th based on his time from the morning qualifying session. Abe will start the two 20-lap races one place behind his team-mate after struggling to find rear grip with his YZF-R1 in practice.

Andrew Pitt took over a second from his best lap of the weekend in superpole, recording a 2:01.482 to move from tenth in regular qualifying to seventh position and a slot on the second row on the final grid. Pitt was plagued with some minor electrical problems that forced him to switch to his spare machine for superpole but, despite running different gearing and suspension to his preferred machine, he was still able to post a 2:01.482 lap time.

Times tumbled during today’s qualifying sessions, with the surface providing considerably more traction than in Friday’s sessions. With hot conditions set to make for a tough day’s racing tomorrow, both riders worked hard to find a set-up that will work over 20 laps of the challenging circuit. Haga and Pitt were able to run fast and consistent times as they worked on finding an optimum race setting during the day’s two one-hour practices, before showing the ultimate pace of their YZF-R1s in the grid deciding one-lap superpole.

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“Yes, of course, I am very happy with pole position. The feeling with the bike is very good and even before superpole I knew the settings and tyres I will use for the race. I was able to ride a good lap and get the pole. Tomorrow will be very hard work and I hope that the temperature will be cooler for the races. The tyre wear is very high in this heat but that is the same for everyone and I am happy that we have such a good setting for the bike, as I expect some very hard races.”

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“In the end second row’s not too bad. My bike stopped before superpole so I had to go on my second bike and it wasn’t set up at all how I’d like it. It was a bit chaotic as we tried to change some things around but I’m quite happy. We were able to do some consistent lap times and as long as we don’t have any more problems we should be ready for the races.”

Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France)
“I am a little bit frustrated because my qualifying time is almost three seconds faster than last year, yet I am again starting on the fifth row – that shows how the level of competition has gone up this year. Overall though, I am happy with how practice has gone. We have made some steps forward with the bike and the times of all the riders are close. I’m only just behind guys like Barros, so I am quite positive for tomorrow’s races.”

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)
“I’m not so happy with today. The temperatures are much higher than when we tested here and because of this the grip levels are much lower. I tried a new swingarm in the practices and I like this and will use it in the race. The afternoon was better, although I have not yet been able to decide on a tyre choice and therefore suspension settings for the race.”

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)
“Still we are struggling with rear grip on the exit of corners. As a result I tried entering the corners faster, but this has caused some chatter to occur. We will try some more settings in the warm-up to try and find a solution for the races.”

Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator – Yamaha Motor Italia)
“A great job from Noriyuki today. It was hard to know how superpole would go as each session had been quite different. He rode such a great lap and was very smooth – in fact when I watched the lap on TV I commented to the team that he didn’t seem to be pushing so hard. It was very satisfying to win our first superpole, especially to do it with such a big gap to second. Andrew did an excellent job too. He had to go out on his second bike and that was set-up differently, so to get the second row was good.”
Circuit Length: 5403
Temp: 33
Weather: Sunny


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