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May 8, 2010

Biaggi Wins World Superbike Superpole, Tops 205 mph At Monza

The top three finishers from Saturday's World Superbike Superpole competition at Monza: Max Biaggi (center), Cal Crutchlow (left) and Michel Fabrizio (right).
FIM Superbike World Championship
Monza, Italy
May 8, 2010
Final Qualifying Results After Superpole (all on Pirelli tires):

From Superpole Three:

1. Max BIAGGI (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:42.121
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW (Yamaha YZF-R1), 1:42.154
3. Michel FABRIZIO (Ducati 1098F10), 1:42.499
4. Jonathan REA (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:42.566
5. Leon HASLAM (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:42.633
6. Ruben XAUS (BMW S1000 RR), 1:42.725
7. James TOSELAND (Yamaha YZF-R1), 1:42.789
8. Tom SYKES (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:43.111


From Superpole Two:

9. Max NEUKIRCHNER (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:43.410
10. Luca SCASSA (Ducati 1098R), 1:43.431
11. Carlos CHECA (Ducati 1098R), 1:43.506
12. Troy CORSER (BMW S1000 RR), 1:43.508
13. Leon CAMIER (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:43.530
14. Sylvain GUINTOLI (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:43.691
15. Shane BYRNE (Ducati 1098R), 1:43.813
16. Noriyuki HAGA (Ducati 1098F10), 1:43.957


From Superpole One:

17. Jakub SMRZ (Ducati 1098R), 1:44.291
18. Chris VERMEULEN (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:44.802
19. Lorenzo LANZI (Ducati 1098R), 1:44.878
20. Matteo BAIOCCO (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:46.180


The Rest of the Grid:

21. Daisaku SAKAI (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:46.679
22. Roger HAYDEN (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:46.771
23. Vittorio IANNUZZO (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:46.912
24. Broc PARKES (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:46.914




More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:

Monza, 8th May 2010 Today's sessions set tomorrow's grid positions at Monza, the stage for this fifth round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship and the first of the three Italian events scheduled this season. On this very fast track, the 24 Superbike riders continued to battle hard and the two Althea Racing riders Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne were among the protagonists. On board their Ducati 1198 machines, both riders qualified comfortably for the Superpole.

Spanish rider Carlos Checa, fourth in the overall standings, improved on the time he set yesterday by more than three seconds to close Superpole in eleventh position, securing a place on the third row of the grid with a best time of 1'43"506.

"Today went a lot better than first qualifying", said Carlos. "We've made some steps forward with regard to the bike's rideability and we were able to better understand why we were having problems through certain sections of the track. Tomorrow will be difficult and to get into the top ten will be hard but we'll try to take home as many points as possible."

Carlos' team-mate Shane Byrne also made good progress today, dropping his lap time by nearly four seconds. "Shakey" finished fifteenth, with a time of 1'43"813 and will line up tomorrow on the fourth row.

"To start from fifteenth will be hard but I'll give it my all and try to make a good race", said the English rider. "We have done some good work in the garage over these two days and tomorrow it will be important to start well and stick with the guys ahead of us."

Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager, declared, "As I predicted, both riders improved today. Carlos wanted to wait until the last minute, for all the little problems to be resolved so that he could push to the limit and understand how to ride through the trickiest parts of the track. He has a good feeling with the bike and thanks to the team's hard work he has the advantage of a strong set-up. Shane had a few difficulties but in the end he made good progress too and did a lot better than in yesterday's sessions. I am confident; tomorrow we will ride a dignified race and try to limit the damage at a track that is not a real friend of ours."




More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Alstare:

LEON JUST MISSES THE FRONT ROW

Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam just missed out on a front row grid place in Superpole 3 this afternoon when he was baulked on his two flying laps. The first time was by James Toseland (Yamaha) and the second was by another of his fellow countrymen - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki). But for those two instances, Leon would've qualified on the front row for sure. His team mate Sylvain Guintoli struggled to find a good rhythm today and ended with the 14th quickest time in Superpole. He now faces a difficult task staring tomorrow's pair of 18 lap races from the fourth row of the grid.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia) stormed to victory in Superpole, with Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) second, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) third and Jonathan Rea (Honda) fourth.

Leon - 5th, 1:42.725
I'm disappointed not to be on the front row, but I am pretty happy with my bike and feel confident about the races tomorrow. I was on a quick lap in final Superpole, but got pushed out wide by James (Toseland). So I thought I'd go for it on the second lap, but this time Tom (Sykes) was on my racing line and I had to go round him to get past and lost time in the process.

It's good that the first turn is a long way from the start and as long as I get off the line well I'll be with the front guys for sure. The first chicane is going to be tight and I hope nobody tries to do anything stupid there on the first lap.
I think that a wet race might be better for the championship, but I guess we'd all rather prefer two dry races and a lot of close-quarter racing. We're probably going to get that anyway!

Sylvain, 14th, 1:43.691
Once again, I am having a problem finding a good rhythm and being here in Monza for the first time is no real excuse. It's my job as a racer to learn tracks quickly and I have not succeeded as well as I wanted to. I'm disappointed not to have done better today and now my job tomorrow is going to be a lot harder as I will be starting from the fourth row of the grid. The other thing is that I didn't manage to improve much when I was on qualifying tyres and that is something I will have to get used to and sort out.

We not far off where we want to be, but in this championship not far is a like a long way off! The series is so competitive that any small slip in qualifying can push you way back down the grid. I have been practising my starts and now I need two good ones tomorrow.




More, from a press release issued by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda:

Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow's two fifth round World Superbike championship races from the front row of the grid after setting the fourth fastest time in today's Superpole qualifying sessions at Monza in Italy.

After being near the top of the timing sheets in both yesterday's and today's practice and qualifying, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland was unable to repeat his Assen pole position, the honour going instead to local rider Max Biaggi.

Rea's Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Max Neukirchner, meanwhile continues to adapt to his CBR1000RR and improve its set-up for the historic 5.777km Monza circuit, setting the ninth fastest time today for a third row start.

This afternoon's Superpole sessions were held in dry conditions after a wet start to the day at Monza. Further rain showers are forecast for tomorrow, when the first of the day's two Superbike races goes at 12.00 local time , the second at 15.30.

Jonathan Rea P4 1'42.566s

I guess it was quite good and I'm happy with the front row because I'm not really much of a qualifier Assen must have been a one-lap wonder! As long as I get off the line well tomorrow, I've got some good race pace, the bike's working good and I'm quite confident, so we'll have to see. I'm really excited about the races and I intend to dig deep; there'll be a load of slipstreaming going on. It's going to be fun and games tomorrow for sure, and to be honest I wouldn't mind being the grandstands watching!

Max Neukirchner P9 1'43.410s

So, ninth is not so bad, but I made a little mistake on my quick lap and got in the wrong gear at the chicane, otherwise I might have been on the second row, which would have been better. But I'm really happy that we've been able to make more progress with the bike here this weekend. I am able to brake deeper into the corner, pick the bike up more quickly and accelerate out better. We've got one or two other ideas to try in warm-up tomorrow; we might go a little softer at the front and then I just need a good start. I've practised quite a lot this weekend already.

Ronald ten Kate team-manager

Being on the front row was always the aim for Jonathan. He's been quick in all sessions and in all conditions, so we are prepared for any weather tomorrow, although we all hope for sun and a dry track. Max has definitely continued his move forward and the second row would have been a good reward for all the hard work that he and his crew have put in recently. At least he can see the start lights now, which have been out of sight in previous races! We'll make a few small changes tomorrow morning and then I w ould advise everyone watching to hold on to their seats!!




More, from a press release issued by Infront Motorsports:

Maximum plus performance puts Biaggi on pole for the first time

Remarkable as it sounds, six time Superbike World Championship race winner Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) scored his first career pole today at Monza, holding off a field packed with potential pole men at his home race. His best Superpole lap was a new track best 1'42.121, putting him on pole for the first time in his four year Superbike World Championship career. His average lap speed for his new record lap was 203.653 km/h. Biaggi also set the fastest top speed in WSB history today, hitting a recorded 330.2 km/h.

Max, cheered on by a vocal local support, was followed by Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda) on a 1'42.154, only 0.033 from topping the pre-race rankings. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) finished off the first row, with the second row headed by championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad), who fell late in the session, James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) completed the top eight riders. Sykes gave Kawasaki its best qualifying performance for some time and with slipstreaming ruling the races at Monza, the Englishman is keen to get to grips with tomorrow's races. Crutchlow had set a new best mark in Superpole 2 with a 1'42.255, until Biaggi improved it still further in Superpole 3.

Daisaku Sakai (Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team) was 21st in qualifying at a track that is new to him and his entire team. A fall in practice hurt his right shoulder, which also held him back when it came to final qualifying.

Max Biaggi: "It's been a great Saturday for us but it's not Sunday! 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 tyre at the end of 18 laps is going to make all the difference, especially at the Parabolica."

Cal Crutchlow: "All credit to Max, he did a good lap. We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole 2 - a 1'42.2 on a seven lap old race tyre, then we put two qualifiers in the last session and never had any grip so I think the race tyre is better than the qualifier around here. It was a good lap and the races are going to be close and tough tomorrow."

Michel Fabrizio: "It went very well and we are happy with this improvement, we really needed a result like this today. After three races in which we had been 'missing' it was vitally important to be up there. I've got a good chance of winning tomorrow's races because my race pace is good, I feel like I'm down a few horsepower on the straight, I'll have to find a rope and tie it to the closest four-cylinder bike to pull me along!"

Jonathan Rea: "I am happy because my bike is working pretty good and I am excited for the races tomorrow and it looks like we can be in a position to fight for the front. In the qualifying the other guys did a very good job and I could not match their pace but there will be some exciting races and for anyone sitting in the grandstands watching it should be cool tomorrow."

Times: 1. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 1'42.121 (203,653 km/h); 2. Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1'42.154; 3. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1198 1'42.499; 4. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1'42.566; 5. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R 1'42.690; 6. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1'42.725; 7. Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1'42.789; 8. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10 R 1'43.111; 9. Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1'43.410; 10. Scassa L. (ITA) Ducati 1198 1'43.431; etc.


World Supersport

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) took his ninth career pole with a new track best of 1'47.848 in final qualifying, outpacing a late charge from Parkalgar Honda rider Eugene Laverty. Only those two went into the 1'47s, with championship leader Joan Lascorz (Motocard.com Kawasaki) third fastest. Michele Pirro from Hannspree Ten Kate Honda was a creditable fourth, and former WSS Champion Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) fifth on his privateer machine. The best triumph on show belonged to David Salom (ParkinGO BE-1 Triumph), in sixth place.

Times: 1. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR 600 RR 1'47.848; 2. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR 600 RR 1'47.962; 3. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-6 R 1'48.233; 4. Pirro M. (ITA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1'48.367; 5. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'48.483; 6. Salom D. (ESP) Triumph 675 Daytona 1'48.523; 7. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1'48.695; 8. Rea G. (FRA) Honda CBR 600 RR 1'49.029; etc.


Superstock 1000

Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) took his third pole of the year today, ending up 0.252 seconds ahead of another BMW rider, Sylvain Barrier, from the Garnier Junior team. Three Honda riders followed the leading duo with Michele Magnoni (SCI Garvie Image), Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Race Junior) and Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini) completing the top five. Badovini set the new track best with his 1'46.092, as the sun shone on Monza once more.

Times: 1. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S 1000 RR 1'46.092; 2. Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 1'46.344; 3. Magnoni M. (ITA) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1'47.247; 4. Berger M. (FRA) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1'47.464; 5. Antonelli A. (ITA) Honda CBR 1000 RR 1'47.603; 6. Lussiana M. (FRA) BMW S 1000 RR 1'47.858; 7. Beretta D. (ITA) BMW S 1000 RR 1'47.888; 8. Mahr R. (AUT) Suzuki GSX-R K9 1'47.914; etc.


Superstock 600 - Race

A thrilling race between riders on three different types of machines finally went to Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) after an express train of leading speed was only derailed on the final corner. Florian Marino (Ten Kate Race Junior Honda) tried to pass leader Guarnoni but ran wide at the Parabolica, and Leandro Mercado (BWG Racing Kawasaki) was pushed wide and crashed. Marino would get going again to score third, with pole man Federico D'Annunzio (Yamaha Martini Racing) second. In the championship, Guarnoni leads on 86 points, 20 ahead of Marino. A rash of fallers in the early laps of the race ensured that only nine riders made the finish.


600 Superstock Race

Results: 1. Guarnoni J. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 15'03.324 (184,184 km/h); 2. D'Annunzio F. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 5.508; 3. Marino F. (FRA) Honda CBR 600 RR 9.972; 4. Russo R. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 10.214; 5. Casalotti S. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 14.388; 6. Le Coquen (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 14.414; 7. Calero Perez N. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R 6 19.716; 8. Covena T. (NED) Yamaha YZF R6 19.977; etc.

Points (after 4 rounds of 10): 1. Guarnoni 86; 2. Marino 66; 3. D'Annunzio 51; 4. Karlsen 47; 5. Lombardi 38; 6. Lanusse 30; 7. Calero Perez 28; 8. Fanelli 25; 9. Le Coquen 21; 10. Major 20




More, from a press release issued by Xerox Ducati:

FABRIZIO (DUCATI XEROX) SECURES FRONT ROW START FOR TOMORROW'S RACES AT MONZA

Monza (Italy), Saturday 8th May: Michel Fabrizio and his team worked hard today and were rewarded with a front row place on tomorrow's grid at the Autodromo Nazionale of Monza; Michel will line up in third position, the spot that he had already provisionally secured yesterday.

This morning's second qualifying proved to be an extremely successful session for Michel Fabrizio, on board his 1198. Despite an initially damp track, with conditions very similar to yesterday, times began to drop later in the session and, after substituting used slicks with new ones, the Italian rider was able to push hard, recording an impressive 1'43.737 on his penultimate lap to take overall first position at the end of qualifying, three tenths of a second faster than Rea (Honda) in second. By the close of the session, Noriyuki had also made progress, improving on yesterdays qualifying time by almost a second and a half, to qualify in overall twelfth position for the afternoon's Superpole.

In the early afternoon's final free practice session, times improved once again and Michel impressed once more, ducking under the 1'43 barrier to make two very fast laps right at the end of the session, recording the fastest overall time of this practice session at the very last minute (1'42.6). Noriyuki continued to lose valuable tenths, particularly through the first sector of track, and closed in fourteenth.

Superpole 1 both Fabrizio and Haga made two exits during the fourteen-minute session. Michel chose not to use a qualifier in this first phase and closed in a solid eighth place, assuring himself of passage to the next phase. Noriyuki ,on the other hand, made his second exit with the qualifier and, like Michel, finished inside the top sixteen, in fourteenth position.

Superpole 2 Noriyuki's technicians provided him with a new qualifier for this session but unfortunately the Japanese rider did not find the grip necessary to make a fast lap and thus concluded today's Superpole in sixteenth position, equating to the fourth row of tomorrow's grid. Michel, also on a "Q", had more success and recorded a 1'42.7, enough to finish in second place, and progressing comfortably to the final phase.

Superpole 3 Michel made two fast laps, the second of which temporarily propelled him into pole position, but was subsequently beaten by Biaggi and Crutchlow in the final minute of this last phase, meaning an eventual third place finish for the Ducati Xerox rider. He will therefore line up on the front row of the grid in tomorrow's races, in the position that he had provisionally secured already yesterday.

Michel Fabrizio
"Today's result is the best response to the gossip that was circulating in the paddock yesterday. 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."

Noriyuki Haga
"This morning conditions were pretty much the same as yesterday and I was finding it difficult, especially through the first part of the track.Then in the Superpole I found that I had better grip on the race tyre than with the qualifier. I was lacking grip at the rear and, though I pushed as hard as I can, it was impossible to make a very fast lap. I'm fairly happy with the race set-up but it's going to be another tough race day."




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland put in an impressive performance in Superpole today, with Crutchlow just missing out on pole to start from the second position on the grid for tomorrow's two World Superbike races. The young British rider passed through each heat comfortably, fastest in the second session with an impressive 1'42.255 lap on a used race tyre. The final heat saw him miss out on pole to Max Biaggi by less than a tenth of a second.

Team mate James Toseland was also on form, clearing Superpole one in fifth and Superpole two in fourth, only three tenths off Crutchlow. The final heat saw him heading for a front row start until a small mistake dropped a few tenths off his time, meaning he will start from seventh on the second row tomorrow.

The earlier qualifying session saw the riders work through and finalise their set ups. Toseland's heat was disrupted with a small technical problem, forcing him to return to the pits and head out on his second bike. Crutchlow finished in tenth, Toseland in 13th.

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team, (2nd, 1'42.154)
"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. We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole two on a seven lap old race tyre 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 has ridden to two fantastic podiums recently at Assen."

James Toseland, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team, (7th, 1'42.789)
"We used both our qualifiers in the second Superpole heat and unfortunately didn't have one for the last session, however I would have done a mid 42 but I made a mistake at Lesmo on my first lap, and being a race tyre I really needed to get it in on that lap so I lost a few tenths there. That would have put me on the front row, and to say you can get there on a race tyre is encouraging. We had a problem with an engine this morning in qualifying and a different gearbox in the other bike which meant we couldn't run with the best gearing in Superpole. If it can stay dry tonight then we can try a few things in tomorrow's warm up and I'm quietly confident we can do well in the races."

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager
"To start our home race from the first and second row of the grid is a good result. For sure tomorrow we will enjoy two really good races here, there is a lot of fun to be had for the riders on the long straights. I'm confident that the set up is good for both riders so I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do tomorrow."




More, from a press release issued by Team PATA B&G Racing:

It was an unlucky day for team PATA B&G Racing today. Jakub Smrz crashed during the first full-speed lap of the Superpole, which prevented him from replicating the good form shown in practice, when he posted times that could have allowed him to qualify in the first two rows.

The Czech rider will therefore have to fight back on a track which lately hasn't been very favourable to the bicylinder Ducatis, due to the fact that the multifractional bikes have more overall power. Lorenzo Baroni finished fifteenth and will have to gain a few positions back in the race as his teammate.

JAKUB SMRZ | Ducati 1098R | 17th in 1'44.291: "I'm disappointed I crashed, I just lost control of the bike when I was entering the Variante Ascari. I did manage to return to the pits just in time to get on the second bike. However, I only had one full-speed lap and barely missed the second session of Superpole".

Mirco Guandalini: "We'll have an easier approach this time because we're not setting any particular goals. If we make it into the top 10, we could say it was a great result. I expect a lot from Baroni as well, he wasn't as fast as earlier this season but he definitely possesses the skills to fight back and score a good result".




More, from a press release issued by Troy Corser's publicist:

THIRD ROW FOR TROY

Troy suffered brake problems today and was unable to push as hard as he wanted in Superpole 1 and 2 and so failed to qualify for Superpole 3. In the end, Troy finished with the 12th quickest time and so will start tomorrow's pair of 18 lap races from the third row of the grid.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia) stormed to victory in Superpole, with Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) second, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) third and Jonathan Rea (Honda) fourth.

Troy - 12th, 1:43.508
I'm a bit disappointed because we've been there or thereabouts most of the weekend and would've been quicker if it had not been for some brake problems. Today I found it difficult getting the bike to stop. If I braked in the normal place, the bike would run wide and I'd miss the corner. When I braked early, to make sure I did the turn OK, I obviously lost time. On race tyres everything is more or less OK, but the braking problem is a nuisance because the chicanes are very important here. For a lot of today, I felt I was back to like the bike was before, in that I was able to do one or two fast laps but not be able to do a string of consistently fast laps.

The mechanics will look at all the data tonight and see if they can identify the problems and come up with some ideas to try in the warm-up tomorrow morning. The first turn is a long way away so as long as I make a couple of good starts I think I can be with the leaders by the time we hit turn one. It's going to be a new experience for us all and the first time we all get there, it's going to be like going into a funnel. Hopefully we'll all get through OK. It will be a disaster if somebody crashes in the middle of the turn because there's a good chance that they'd skittle half the pack if they hit the damp grass on the inside of the second part of the chicane.




More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Racing:

Sykes On Row Two After Best Qualifying Session Of The Year

WSBK, Monza, Italy, 8 May 2010

Kawasaki Racing Team rider Tom Sykes took his Ninja ZX-10R to eighth place and a second row start at Monza, going all the way to Superpole 3 after good work from both rider and team in the afternoon.

Chris Vermeulen once more had to fight against the lingering effects of his Phillip Island knee injury when riding his official KRT machine, but still took his into the first of three Superpole sessions, ending up 18th fastest.

Sykes and his crew had to overcome some issues in qualifying this morning but recovered well and then made real improvements in his overall set-up to let him compete for the prime spots on the starting grid. With slipstreaming being such a big part of any race at Monza, Tom starting from the second row is a real boost for the entire team's expectations.

Vermeulen, who has battled bravely once again despite the distraction of a painful right knee, is expecting a fight in each of Sunday's 18-lap races, but he also hopes for improvements compared to his qualifying place.

Weather conditions have been changeable ever since practice started at Monza, but the final afternoon was dry and times tumbled in the Superpole sessions, particularly when qualifying tyres were used.

Tom Sykes: "We started off the weekend in a fairly strong position but we took some steps backwards this morning. Fair play to the boys we quickly rectified it and continued to move forward in the final sessions. We made some small changes to the set-up that really helped my confidence and feeling on the bike and I suspected that we would be fast going into Superpole. I went out on a race tyre and felt good for Superpole one. In the final two Superpoles I managed to sustain good lap times and was really happy to get onto the second row in eighth position. This gives me a lot better chance tomorrow for the race and to get two good results here. It's also my crew chief's 30th birthday today so it's nice to put a smile on his face with our second row position."

Chris Vermeulen: "My knee is getting better but it is still quite difficult to ride the bike. I don't have a lot of strength and it is still painful in the bent position I need to have it in when I'm riding. But having said that, it is better than Assen. I do not have a lot of muscle strength to give me power, and you get traction from a bike by putting weight through your footpegs. We had a few issues this afternoon but we improved the settings for Superpole and got into the 1'44s. We have one more thing to try in warm-up, which we think is going to be a good step."