Crutchlow Takes Portimao Pole

Paul Carruthers | March 27, 2010

Just when you didn’t think they could possibly go any faster in today’s Superpole, they did. Well, at least Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Cruchlow did.The Brit knocked almost half a second off the best lap from Superpole 2 to earn his first-ever World Superbike pole position with a blistering 1:42.092 in Superpole 3 on his Yamaha R1. Crutchlow’s best was .320 of a second under Ben Spies’ Superpole time at last year’s race at Portimao.”The Superpole lap wasn’t really a surprise to me to be honest, we had a good session beforehand and I knew we could go really well in the qualifying session this morning,” Cruchlow said in a team release. “We left a lot in reserve, so down in 14th place I wasn’t panicking. I knew we had a good pace for the pole session. I only used one qualifying tyre and we only needed one lap to do it. Yamaha’s done a fantastic job in the last month, it was hard work but we’ve got there in the end, all working together. I’m quietly confident we’ll do a good job tomorrow as well.”That was by far the best lap of the weekend as the pace continued to drop throughout the three sessions of Superpole. In the end, it was Crutchlow by .421 of a second over Aprilia’s Max Biaggi with Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa slotted in behind Biaggi in third place. The final spot on the front row for tomorrow’s two races will be filled by Alstare Suzuki’s Leon Haslam, the Brit who got things started by earning provisional pole position yesterday.Superpole 1 didn’t surprise many with who was at the top as Haslam and Crutchlow went to the front and stayed there, the pair the only two to crack the 1:43 barrier with a 1:42.624 and 1:42.938, respectively. But there were plenty of surprises with those who didn’t make it to Superpole 2 – namely both of the factory Ducati men as neither Michel Fabrizio nor Noriyuki Haga made it out of the first session. Fabrizio ended up 17th with Haga 18th, though the Japanese rider was only a tick over a second slower than Haslam. Such is World Superbike racing this season.There were some surprises as to who did make it with Pedercini Ducati’s Luca Scassa, BMW’s Ruben Xaus and Lorenzo Lanzi making it through. Scassa was the most impressive as he put his Ducati seventh in the first session.In the second session, it was quicker still for the top men as Crutchlow shot to the top and looked like he was going to stay there. But then came a barrage of last-second laps that ultimately saw Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea jump to the top with a 1:42.428. Biaggi also made a late run and hopped to second with Shane Byrne doing the same to vault to third, dropping Crutchlow back to fifth. Provisional pole sitter Jakub Smrz and Checa also went quicker than session one leader Haslam, the Brit and his Suzuki ending Superpole 2 in seventh. BMW’s Troy Corser was the final rider to make it through.The notables not making it out of Superpole 2 included Lanzi and Sterilgarda Yamaha’s James Toseland, the latter completing only one slow lap in the session. In total, 10 riders were in the 1:42s after Superpole 2 with 10th placed Xaus just .571 of a second behind Rea, but out of Superpole.Superpole 3 was where Crutchlow took charge, putting in his good lap right away and then sitting and watching as no one could come close.At the conclusion of Superpole, five different manufacturers made up the top five in the order with a sixth brand brand, Corser’s BMW, ending up eighth.


1.                  Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:42.092

2.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:42.513

3.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:42.586

4.                  Leon Haslam (Suzuki) 1:42.596

5.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:42.807

6.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:42.889

7.                  Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:42.960

8.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:43.152

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.