The following is from Suzuki…Team Suzuki Alstare’s Leon Haslam took Superpole in Australia today, to lead the grid in his debut for Suzuki in the first round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship tomorrow.The young Briton stormed to a lap of 1:31.229, over half a second inside the lap record, in Superpole 3, ahead of Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) and fellow Briton Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha). For a while it looked as though team mate team mate Sylvain Guintoli would be joining him on the front row of the grid, but a late surge by Crutchlow relegated the Frenchman to fifth place and row two.Leon Haslam – 1st, 1:31.229:”I am absolutely delighted to get my first Superpole victory but the results in the races tomorrow are more important. Sitting in the garage watching the other guys go round in final Superpole and seeing their times falling was more nerve-racking than being out on the track and riding and it was a great relief when it was over. When we use qualifying tyres I have to use a slightly different riding style than when I am on race rubber.”Today once again we concentrated on getting a good race set up and did a lot of time on race rubber getting ready for race day. From previous data, we knew there was a certain way of working at this track to keep progressing and we did that rather than just chase any lap times.”My aim is to be in the first three in the first eight or nine laps and that will put me in a good position a good position at the end of the race. It is not what you can do in the first five laps; it’s what you do in the last five laps here that is most important. Although this is my first race weekend with the team, everyone is working together fantastically well. I have felt at home here at Suzuki Alstare since the very first time we tested and the boys have made my life easy.”Sylvain Guintoli – 5th, 1:31.696: “I thought I had done enough to get on the front row, but then I lost the position right at the end of final Superpole. It’s a bit disappointing because it would’ve been nice to be on the front row near my team mate and it would’ve been great for the team. But row two is OK, and as long as I get good starts, I think I can get good results.”The important thing though is that I am really happy with the bike and how everything is going at the moment. I used race rubber in Superpole 1 and then qualifying tyres in Superpole 2 and 3. I feel very comfortable on race tyres and I am enjoying myself here. Today we started with the same base set-up as yesterday and just made minor adjustments throughout the day. Also, I tried to improve the way I ride the bike and get more out of it, but I am just so happy at the moment and cannot wait for the races.”The following is from Troy Corser’s publicist…Troy ended the first Superpole year with a position on the fourth row of the grid, but is confident of producing good results in tomorrow’s pair of 22-lap races. Once again today, he and the team continued working on the bike’s set-up an by the end of this afternoon’s untimed practice, Troy was happy and comfortable on the bike for almost the first time this weekend. With his huge knowledge of the Phillip Island circuit, Troy is upbeat about his prospects tomorrow, but knows that he will have to get good starts if he is to leave the 4.445 kilometre track with a smile on his face.Briton Leon Haslam (Suzuki) took Superpole today – his first ever in the Superbike World Championship – with Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) second, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) third and Carlos Checa (Ducati) fourth. The level of competition is higher this year than ever and, after regular qualifying, the top seventeen riders were separated by less than a second!
“It would’ve been good to have got a bit higher up the grid, but now that I feel happy and comfortable with the bike I can really push a lot harder. We’ve done a lot of work these past two days and during the tests last week and I have only become really comfortable today and that is a good and positive feeling. Before, I felt a bit nervous on the bike and that’s why I haven’t been pushing hard, as I didn’t want to crash. Each time out, we’re improving, but the important thing for me is that I am happy with my performance and now I am looking forward to the races tomorrow.”In normal qualifying we were very close to the top guys and we were looking for tenths of a second only and that was good. It was only in Superpole that the gap widened and a lot of that is down to how our bike works differently with qualifying tyres. It’s something that we have to learn to manage and if we can do that, then we would be consistently much further up the grid. I am confident that we are progressing, but the level of competition is so high that a tenth of a second makes a big difference. The wind got a bit gusty this afternoon, especially into turn one, but once I found a comfortable set-up on the bike, it was easy enough to manage. This track is hard on the tyres and the bit from Southern Loop to Honda stresses the them a lot, because you are on full gas for a long time. It’s so important to not overwork the tyres and if you do that and have had a good start, then you will be in contention at the end. I’m pretty happy with the race tyres and t hink I know what we’ll use for the race, depending on the conditions of course. I did a full race distance on race rubber today and am pretty happy how they behaved, so let’s hope that conditions will be good tomorrow – hopefully cooler like today – and we can go for a couple of good results.”The following is from Ducati…The first Superpole of the 2010 World Superbike season took place this afternoon at a breezy Phillip Island, and Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio was undoubtedly one of the protagonists, putting in a strong and consistent performance to snatch second place on tomorrow’s grid, and missing out on pole by just a fraction of a second. Team-mate Noriyuki Haga had a more difficult time, qualifying in tenth place for the opening races of the year. Of the first ten bikes on tomorrow’s grid, five are Ducati 1198s, yet another a demonstration of the bike’s competitiveness.In this morning’s qualifying, and on a much cooler track compared to yesterday, the three fastest riders from yesterday, Checa, Fabrizio and Haslam did not manage to improve on their best times but they nevertheless held on the top three spots on the timesheet, qualifying first to third for the afternoon’s Superpole. Noriyuki, maintaining a similar pace to yesterday, preferred to work with a used tyre than change to a fresh one in the final minutes to record a fast lap, meaning that he qualified for Superpole in fourteenth place. It is interesting to note that the fastest seventeen riders lapped within seven tenths of a second of each other, a sure sign that this year’s championship will be extremely hard fought.As expected, Superpole was a close battle between the top eight. In the first of the three phases, 14 minutes in length, Nori immediately recorded a time fast enough for him to be able to return to the garage, safe in the knowledge that he had done enough. Michel meanwhile needed a tyre change before his fastest lap propelled him up the timesheets to third place, to easily proceed to phase two along with his team-mate.In the second mini-Superpole both factory riders went out on qualifiers, Michel making a fast lap and Nori changing tyre mid-session. What seemed to be a clean lap for Haga unfortunately failed to equate to a fast enough lap, due to an apparent lack of rear grip which meant that Haga’s Superpole finished here, with the tenth fastest time of the afternoon, although only two tenths off Michel’s pace in the same session.Michel, who still had a qualifier left to use in the final phase, pushed to the limit and it seemed that the pole position was within his grasp, but it all came down to a fraction of a second, with Michel ultimately closing in second place, just 0.016 of a second from Haslam on the Suzuki. Lining up in the first eight on tomorrow’s grid are also the Ducati 1198s of Checa (Althea Racing) in fourth and Smrz (Team Pata B&G Racing) in sixth.Three-time world champion Troy Bayliss is once again special guest at the Phillip Island circuit this weekend and it was he who presented former team-mate Michel Fabrizio with his Superpole trophy today. Troy will continue to work as a Ducati “ambassador” in 2010.Michel Fabrizio
“Today’s Superpole was very difficult but I am very happy with the final result. I lost out on the pole by just a fraction of a second which is a shame, but it’s not the first time that that has happened and the important thing is that I’m on the front row tomorrow. I was happy with my flying lap, a clean lap, with no-one in front of me. Tomorrow will be an equally difficult challenge, and various riders, me, Haslam, Checa, Biaggi and Nori will surely be in contention. We know we have a good race pace and I’m feeling confident for the races.”Noriyuki Haga
“In the second phase of the Superpole I went out on a race tyre but even though it felt like a clean lap, the time was not quick enough and unfortunately that put me out of the fight, and I finished tenth. Tomorrow I will of course need to make a fantastic start but I am confident that I am able to do that. I apologise to Ducati for the fact that I’m on the third row but I will, as ever, do my best in the races. Last year I started from 13th and won the race so I know it is possible to achieve a great result regardless of grid position.”The following is from Yamaha…British riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland demonstrated the big steps forward in bike set up on the 2010 R1 today, challenging through all three Superpole sessions to take first and second row starts respectively. Both riders had used their qualifier tyres by the end of the second session, using race rubber for their final heat. In an amazing turn of speed Crutchlow put in an incredible 1’31.642 to secure third whilst team-mate Toseland put his head down to secure eighth a row behind.The qualifying session earlier in the day saw again more improvement from the Yamaha team. Without any of the chatter problems from the test to be seen the increased power on the new bike was evident. Crutchlow ended the second qualifying heat in third, just over two tenths of pole whilst Toseland defied the pain in his hand from yesterday’s highside to secure fifth, again less than three tenths off pole. These impressive performances by both riders gave an overall qualifying position of fourth for Crutchlow and sixth for Toseland prior to Superpole.Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (3rd, 1.31.642)
“This morning wasn’t too bad for me, I’m pleased enough with the race pace. I think we’re struggling for the podium but that’s what I’m aiming for as always. If we can be somewhere near I’ll be happy! We managed to get a good lap out at the end of Superpole and I was pleased with that. Going into the weekend we weren’t even in the points, Yamaha has done a really good job this week and we’ve worked some stuff out. Hopefully we can keep the cooler conditions as they’ll help us tomorrow. Let’s see what we can do.”James Toseland, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team (8th, 1’32.019)
“I was annoyed with myself for the highside yesterday, we had some issues with the electronics which caught me out so today was damage limitation for that. The balance and the bike itself has improved a lot over the weekend but the electronics now need to catch up a bit. I hurt my hand in the fall which is quite painful, especially as this is a really physical circuit and you need your strength to get round it. I made a mistake on my first tyre in Superpole this afternoon which forced me to use the qualifier in the first session, so I had to use a race tyre for the last session. I knew if I could get into the last eight then I’d be happy with the second row. We’ve got quite a lot more to do with the bike, but to see where we were before the weekend and to now be Cal on the first row and me on the second just shows you what a good job the team has done. They’ve put us in a position where we can have a go.”Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager
“We have made a really good improvement over the last few days. In the beginning we were struggling but we’ve found a way to solve everything. Slowly we’ve been improving the performance with both bikes. To achieve the first two rows for the first race of the season with new riders, especially Cal coming from Supersport, is a great result. Tomorrow we’ll have to see the weather forecast and decide which tyres we want to use for the race. We are satisfied for today!”