Using the top end of his factory Aprilia RSV4 for all its worth on the high-speed Autodromo di Monza in Monza, Italy, Max Biaggi earned the first Superbike pole position of his four-year World Superbike career today, the Italian besting the field in Superpole 3.
Biaggi ripped off his fast lap right at the end of the 10-minute session, the former 250cc World Champion posting a lap of 1:42.121 - the fastest lap of the weekend and a new track record on the slightly revised circuit. Biaggi's Aprilia set a new World Superbike top speed record yesterday with the Italian V-four clocking in at 202.6 mph.
"It's been a great Saturday for us but it's not Sunday!" Biaggi said in a team release. "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 tire at the end of 18 laps is going to make all the difference, especially at the Parabolica."
Biaggi's best lap knocked provisional pole sitter Michel Fabrizio from the top spot, the Xerox Ducati rider ultimately settling for third as Sterligarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow also moved ahead of the Italian in the closing stages. Crutchlow's best was a 1:42.154 - just .033 of a second behind Biaggi. Crutchlow had led the second Superpole session over Fabrizio with Biaggi finishing that 12-minute outing in third place.
"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," Crutchlow said in a team release. "We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole two on a seven-lap-old race tire 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 [Toseland] has ridden to two fantastic podiums recently at Assen."
Fabrizio was pleased with his effort.
"Today's result is the best response to the gossip that was circulating in the paddock yesterday," Fabrizio said in a release. "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."
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea will be the final rider on the front row for tomorrow's two World Superbike races, the CBR1000RR-mounted rider posting a 1:42.566. He was one of the riders to take a turn at leading Superpole 3.
The second row for tomorrow's races will be led by World Championship points leader Leon Haslam. He will be joined there by BMW's Ruben Xaus, Sterilgarda Yamaha's James Toseland and Kawasaki's Tom Sykes. Xaus was the first rider to shoot to the top of Superpole 3, but the Spaniard crashed on his next lap. Still, for the first time this year, he outdid his teammate Troy Corser who failed to make it out of Superpole 2.
Corser wasn't the lone big name to not get out of the Superpole 2 as he was joined on the sidelines by Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa (11th), Aprilia's Leon Camier (who crashed and ended up 13th) and Ducati Xerox's Noriyuki Haga (16th).
Four different manufacturers will be featured on the front row (Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda) with Suzuki, BMW and Kawasaki all putting bikes into the top 10 in qualifying.
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:42.121
2. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:42.154
3. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:42.499
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:42.566
5. Leon Haslam (Suzuki) 1:42.633
6. Ruben Xaus (BMW) 1:42.725
7. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:42.789
8. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:43.111
9. Max Neukirchner (Honda) 1:43.410
10. Luca Scassa (Ducati) 1:43.431