For most of the session on the 3.1-mile, redesigned Nurburgring circuit the man of the hour was Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa, the Spaniard storming to the top of the Superpole session after ending regular qualifying back in 12th. Checa not only took the top spot, he destroyed the rest of the field, his 1:55.888 the only sub-1:56 lap at the time and a full .513 of a second quicker than the next best of Noriyuki Haga.
But then came the last two riders: Neukirchner and Xerox Ducati’s Troy Bayliss, the man who led regulation qualifying with a 1:56.598. Neukirchner went first and his lap was superb – a 1:55.471, a whopping .417 of a second better than Checa’s. All he had to do was withstand the last-gasp efforts of Bayliss and he did so, the Aussie posting a 1:55.791 to end up second – but .320 of a second off the German’s mark.
Checa would end up third, still over half a second quicker than Haga, the Japanese rider falling to the fourth and final spot on the front row – but giving the front row its fourth different brand – Suzuki, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha.
Bayliss’ Ducati teammate Michel Fabrizio ended up fifth to lead row two and he’ll be joined there by Yamaha’s Troy Corser, Ducati-mounted Lorenzo Lanzi and the similarly mounted Max Biaggi.
1. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1:55.471
2. Troy Baylis (Ducati) 1:55.791
3. Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:55.888
4. Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) 1:56.401
5. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:56.436
6. Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1:56.522
7. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) 1:56.574
8. Max Biaggi (Ducati) 1:56.918
9. Karl Muggeridge (Honda) 1:56.980
10. Ruben Xaus (Ducati) 1:57.053