Apr 5, 2002
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Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Business as usual as Bayliss leads the pack<BR><BR>By Glenn Le Santo<BR><BR>Troy Bayliss was fastest in the first qualifying session at Kyalami, leaving onlookers to ask the question: Can anyone beat the reigning Superbike World Champion? Bayliss has already won the first four races this year and he's looking ready to win the next two!<BR><BR>It looked for a while like Colin Edwards on the Honda could stem the Ducati tide, but then Bayliss put in a blistering lap late in the session to go to the top of the time sheets again. All Edwards could do was wave to the crowd that had already gathered at the Kyalami circuit, which is one of the Texan's favorite tracks.<BR><BR>In fairness, although Bayliss leads the timesheets at the moment, both Edwards and Ben Bostrom, who took a win apiece here last year, are breathing down his neck with only 0.035-seconds separating all three riders.<BR><BR>Ruben Xaus made it three Ducatis on the provisional front row by going fourth fastest in the afternoon's qualifying, held under fierce African sun. If temperatures stay the same for Sunday's race then tires are sure to play their part in the equation again. Xaus was over half-a-second back of the front three.<BR><BR>Britain's Neil Hodgson was fifth fastest, on yet another Ducati with Noriyuki Haga trailing him by under two-tenths on the Aprilia RSV1000. Frankie Chili and Lucio Pedercini packed two more Ducatis onto the second row in a series that is looking more and more like a Ducati cup everyday. Eight of the top 10 bikes are Ducatis.<BR><BR>World Superbike Championship<BR>Kyalami, South Africa<BR>Friday qualifying, 5 April 2002<BR>Fastest times:<BR><BR>1. Troy Bayliss, AUS, Ducati, 1:41.961<BR>2. Colin Edwards, USA, Honda, 1:41.973<BR>3. Ben Bostrom, USA, Ducati, 1:41.996<BR>4. Ruben Xaus, ESP, Ducati, 1:42.505<BR>5. Neil Hodgson, GBR, Ducati, 1:42.687<BR>6. Noriyuki Haga, JPN, Aprilia, 1:42.830<BR>7. Pierfrancesco Chili, ITA, Ducati, 1:42.929<BR>8. Lucio Pedercini, ITA, Ducati, 1:43.304<BR>9. Juan Borja, ESP, Ducati, 1:43.336<BR>10. James Toseland, GBR, Ducati, 1:43.449<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Bayliss' publicist, Steve Reeves:<BR><BR>TROY BAYLISS Racing - Media Information<BR>For immediate release<BR>Friday, 5 April 2002<BR><BR>Round 3, 2002 Superbike World Championship<BR>Kyalami Circuit, South Africa<BR>First qualifying session<BR><BR>BAYLISS FASTEST IN OPENING WORLD SUPERBIKE QUALIFYING IN SOUTH AFRICA<BR><BR>Kyalami, South Africa: - A last minute charge has seen defending World Superbike champion, Australian Troy Bayliss, set the fastest lap time of the opening qualifying session for this weekend's third round of the Superbike World Championship held at the Kyalami Circuit in South Africa.<BR><BR>American Castrol Honda rider Colin Edwards had been the pace setter through much of the session, but was unable to hold off Bayliss' blistering final lap of the session that saw him record a time of 1-min 41.961-seconds around the 4.263km South African circuit. Edwards was forced to finish the session with the second fastest time, a 1:41.973, followed by fellow American Ben Bostrom (L&M Ducati) with a 1:41.996 and the only other rider to break the 1:42 barrier. Spaniard Ruben Xaus (Infostrada Ducati) rounded out the top four with a time of 1:42.505.<BR><BR>The times set during the session were well under the existing Superbike lap record of 1:42.928 set at last year's event by Bostrom, but were marginally slower than the pole winning time of 1:41.689, also set by Bostrom.<BR><BR>"I'm happy that we were fastest today, but I think there is still a bit of work to be done before I'm completely happy," said Bayliss who completed 24 laps during the session aboard his Infostrada Ducati 998R. "There wasn't much in it at all in that session. Colin (Edwards) has shown that he is going to be hard to beat and then Ben (Bostrom) came on strong towards the end as well. I think it could come down to the three of us at this moment.<BR><BR>"The track seems to get bumpier each time we come here, but I suppose that adds character to the place," Bayliss added. "I'm sure that we will go faster as the weekend goes on. The track is in good condition, but it just seems to take a while to get up to speed."<BR><BR>Fifth fastest in today's session was Brit Neil Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati) with a time of 1:42.687, ahead of Japanese star Noriyuki Haga (Playstation 2 Aprilia) who slipped to sixth fastest with a 1:42.830 after being second fastest early in the session. Italian favourite Pierfrancesco Chili was seventh fastest aboard his NCR Ducati (1:42.929), just ahead of Lucio Pedercini's Ducati (1:43.304).<BR><BR>The second qualifying session for the World Superbike stars takes place on Saturday morning before the top 16 qualifiers from the combined sessions take part in the grid position determining Superpole session later that afternoon.<BR><BR>Fellow Australians Steve Martin (DFX Ducati) and Broc Parkes (NCR Ducati) were outside the top ten in the opening qualifying session. Martin produced the twelfth fastest time (1:44.023), while Parkes was sixteenth (1:44.486) overall.<BR><BR><BR>And a release from Ducati Corse:<BR><BR>DUCATI CORSE PRESS INFORMATION<BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR>Round 3 – Kyalami (South Africa)<BR>Friday Qualifying<BR><BR>BAYLISS (DUCATI INFOSTRADA) HEADS EDWARDS (HONDA), BOSTROM (DUCATI L&M) AND XAUS (DUCATI INFOSTRADA) IN KYALAMI FIRST QUALIFYING<BR><BR>Championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) headed the timesheets at Kyalami, South Africa as Friday qualifying turned into a terrific three-way battle between the Australian, Honda's Colin Edwards and Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M). The three riders were separated by a fraction as Bostrom's one-year-old lap record tumbled by a full second. Ducati Infostrada's Ruben Xaus was half-a-second off the pace in fourth, ahead of HM Plant Ducati's Neil Hodgson and Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia).<BR><BR>Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) set a time of 1'41.961 on a qualifying tyre at the end of the hour, smashing the lap record of 1'42.92, but the Australian was convinced there was more to come in tomorrow's session. "I got a good start to the weekend today in qualifying", declared Bayliss, "but I'm still not 100% happy as we went a full second quicker than this in January testing. We made a couple of changes on the bike after the morning session and we found some good tyres, with this circuit it's really just a case of working your way into it. We haven't changed much on the bike since the last test here, but you just can't relax with the other guys breathing down your neck. I'm fastest for the moment, but there's a long way to go".<BR><BR>Bostrom (Ducati L&M) was separated from Bayliss by 30/100ths of a second, sandwiching Honda's Colin Edwards, but was pleased with his provisional third-quickest time of 1'41.996. "The bike was great and the tyres were working really well, maybe I could have rode a bit better, but I feel like I'm back in the race", declared Bostrom. "On my fast lap time of 1'41.9, I made a few mistakes so tomorrow I reckon I can get down to a time of 1'41.0. The only problem is that I'm sure there are a few other riders who are going to do it as well. It's going to be a great battle tomorrow!".<BR><BR>Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) was fourth-quickest in today's first qualifying session after changing to his second 998 due to a minor technical problem. "I feel a lot more happy than I was at the start of qualifying because I was just unable to put together a good lap", commented Xaus. "Kyalami is a difficult track and you have to stay on the line all the time. I set a good time on my race tyre, but then my number 1 bike developed a temperature problem and I switched to the other one which wasn't set up exactly the same. I was going better on my second run, but I lost time in the last section which is very hard on the brakes, so I need to work more on the final couple of corners".<BR><BR><BR>And a release from Aprilia:<BR><BR>SUPERBIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Third Round<BR>South Africa - Kyalami Circuit, 4.263 km - Qualifying Session<BR><BR>HAGA AND APRILIA GAIN GROUND<BR><BR>KYALAMI (South Africa), Friday 5 April 2002 - Noriyuki Haga with his Aprilia RSV Mille makes sixth fastest time in the first day of qualifying sessions in the South African round of the World Superbike Championship. The Japanese rider, making his debut at Kyalami on the twin-cylinder from Noale, was preceded by five riders who have spent four days on tests in the run-up to the championship. After this morning's free practice, Haga was 1.964 behind in the ratings but in the afternoon he had reduced this margin to 869 thousandths away from the leader, Troy Bayliss (Ducati). Haga also obtained the best performance on race tyres, unlike the five in front who were riding "soft". The trend is upward, and in the two remaining hours of tests, it looks as though Noriyuki will be able to reduce the gap even further.<BR><BR>NORIYUKI HAGA (Playstation2-FGF Aprilia Team rider) commented: "I'd say things aren't too bad: I thought Ducati and Honda would be further ahead since they got in so much practice a couple of months ago. This is the first time I've been out on Aprilia here in Kyalami - there are still a number of things to sort out, but I'm sure I'll be able to put on a good fight. The tyres also gave us some good indications: next to Phillip Island, things are looking much brighter."<BR><BR>GIACOMO GUIDOTTI (Technical Manager of Playstation2-FGF Aprilia) commented, "We're quite pleased. You have to bear in mind that Haga was making his absolute debut on Aprilia at Kyalami, while the others had plenty of practice during the winter. We aren't far off and we'll try to get closer still. Haga's got a good pace on race tyres. But he's still not able to make the most of the 'soft' tyres used here for the qualifying sessions. In the final tests, we'll try to improve this."<BR><BR><BR><BR>From Fuchs Kawasaki:<BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR>ROUND 3 - KYALAMI, SOUTH AFRICA<BR>5 APRIL 2002 - FRIDAY PRACTICE & QUALIFYING <BR><BR>MIXED FORTUNES FOR WALKER AND IZUTSU AT KYALAMI<BR><BR>For Fuchs Kawasaki riders, Hitoyasu Izutsu and Chris Walker, the opening day at Kyalami didn't quite go according to plan. While Walker started well, finishing the opening free practice session tenth fastest, things weren't quite so positive for team-mate Izutsu.<BR><BR>The former Japanese Superbike Champion struggled to find a workable suspension set-up during the free practice session and, as a result, was unable to match the times of the leading riders. For qualifying, the team reverted to the suspension settings used at Kyalami during preseason testing; with instant results. After improving his lap times steadily throughout the hour-long session, Izutsu eventually finished eleventh fastest, putting him on the third row of the provisional grid.<BR><BR>'It was a bit of a struggle this morning, but we made some big steps forward prior to the qualifying session this afternoon,' said Izutsu. 'We're now back on the settings we used during preseason testing and the bike feels a lot better for it. More importantly, I think there's more to come. We'll be making small changes tonight, and throughout tomorrow, in order to arrive at the best set-up for Sunday's races.'<BR><BR>Tenth fastest during free practice, Chris Walker slipped down to 15th place after the first qualifying session. Despite not finishing as high up the provisional grid as he'd hoped, Walker was upbeat about his day's work, and more than happy to explain the reasons for his temporary slide down the timesheet.<BR><BR>'I forgot to take my big girl's blouse off before I went out for qualifying,' quipped Walker. 'Actually, I was on a pretty good qualifying lap, but I fell foul of the bump at the entry to the chicane. I was running into the corner a bit hotter than I had been on previous laps, which meant I was braking harder when I hit the bump. The back end kicked up, I couldn't turn in and I ended up having to run wide, which lost me loads of time. I'm pretty happy with how the day has gone though, especially as the sweatband under the helmet appears to be working quite well; stopping the sweat running into my eyes. I also feel a lot more comfortable on the bike than I have previously, so I'm confident I'll improve my qualifying position tomorrow.'<BR>