Ducati Xerox's Noriyuki Haga took a big step towards turning his World Superbike Championship around at the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic today, the runner-up in last year's championship earning provisional pole position for Sunday's two races with a solid first-day performance.Haga's best came fairly late in the one-hour session, a 1:59.277 that put him almost half a second clear of his teammate Michel Fabrizio as those two leap-frogged past Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa, the Spaniard having moved to the top with 15 minutes to go. But the Ducati dominance at the top didn't last as Sterligarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow broke up the Ducati party with a last-lap flier that put him ahead of Fabrizio and Checa and just .294 of a second behind Haga. Still, Ducatis held three of the top four spots after day one."Feeling with my bike improved this afternoon, as we took another step with regard to the suspension and that helped, as did changing the tire pressure," Haga said in a team release. "We still need to improve braking in certain sections of the track, and I'm not sure about tires yet, because although the new one seems fairly consistent, I still want to try our "usual" tire tomorrow and see how it works in these conditions. We've made a good start and will try to improve further in tomorrow's sessions."World Championship points leader Max Biaggi ended up fifth on the factory Aprilia, the Italian not able to crack the two-minute barrier on a circuit he calls one of his favorites. Biaggi's 2:00.179 was just off Checa's mark and only .094 of a second ahead of BMW's Ruben Xaus, the Spaniard having out-gunned his teammate Troy Corser. Corser ended the session 12th.Jakub Smrz didn't waste any time adapting to his new Aprilia as he slotted the RSV into the seventh spot at his home racetrack. The provisional second row was filled by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea.Sterilgarda Yamaha's James Toseland was near the top early in the session, but the Brit dropped to ninth at the end, holding off Italian privateers Luca Scassa and Lorenzo Lanzi.The day didn't go well for Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam as the Brit struggled to 13th in the morning session and just 17th in the qualifying session. Haslam is second to Biaggi in the championship as the series reaches its ninth round.American Roger Lee Hayden ended up 22nd on his first day at the Brno Circuit.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) 1:59.277

2.                  Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:59.730

3.                  Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:59.730

4.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2:00.153

5.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 2:00.179

6.                  Ruben Xaus (BMW) 2:00.273

7.                  Jakub Smrz (Aprilia) 2:00.372

8.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 2:00.442

9.                  James Toseland (Yamaha) 2:00.451

10.                  Luca Scassa (Ducati) 2:00.475

 

World Superbike Headlines

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.

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