Sep 29, 2001
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By Glenn Le Santo<BR><BR>Last-minute set-up changes and some cool-headed riding catapulted Aprilia into the first two front-row places for tomorrow's final World Superbike race at Imola, Italy. Troy Corser, who had qualified back in 12th place for Superpole, pulled a blistering lap out of the bag to snatch pole position. Corser, who has yet to confirm a ride for next season, lapped at 1:48.694, almost two seconds faster than his previous best lap time of 1:50.329.<BR><BR>"We made some radical changes for the final free practice session," explained Corser. "We turned the machine on its end and it made all the<BR>difference. I felt really comfortable on the bike for Superpole and just kept my head, kept it smooth – exactly what you need to do for a good<BR>Superpole lap."<BR><BR>Corser admitted that a good result in Sunday's race is crucial for him, "My job probably depends upon it!" he quipped. "But apart from that, we're in Italy, I'm riding an Italian bike and for Aprilia's sake we need a good finish here."<BR><BR>Corser may have to battle his own teammate for that result, and maybe even the team place as it looks likely Aprilia will run a one-man team in 2002. Fellow Aprilia rider Regis Laconi wasn't far behind Corser in Superpole with a lap at 1:48.776. Unlike most of the other competitors Laconi has raced at Imola before, both on 250cc and 500cc GP bikes. "The track is a little different since I last raced here," said Laconi, "but I'm glad to lap it faster today than I did on a 500." Laconi waved a small American flag in support of the victims of the horrific events of September 11th as he posed for photographers after Superpole.<BR><BR>Ruben Xaus looked set to make yet another front-row start until he ran out of ground clearance on the final corner and lowsided his Ducati. Superpole rules mean he'll now have to start back on the second row, in eighth spot. His teammate Troy Bayliss, now the 2001 World Superbike Champion, kept his silver-painted Ducati on its wheels for third on the grid, with a time<BR>of 1:49.146.<BR><BR>"The race is important, we're very close to Ducati's factory," explained Bayliss. "But I won't be riding above myself," he admitted, "you only do that if you really need to. But I'm looking forward to the race, and I'm happy with my set-up."<BR><BR>Former Superbike World Champion Colin Edwards completes the front row. Akira Yanagawa, who qualified in 16th position, fell in free practice Saturday morning and didn't start Superpole. He was concussed in the fall and no announcement<BR>has been made yet on whether he'll be fit to start in Sunday's races.<BR><BR>Imola Superpole Results:<BR>1. Troy Corser, Aprilia, 1:48.694<BR>2. Regis Laconi, Aprilia, 1:48.904<BR>3. Troy Bayliss, Ducati, 1:49.146<BR>4. Colin Edwards, Honda, 1:49.366<BR>5. Ben Bostrom, Ducati, 1:49.371<BR>6. Alessandro Antonello, Aprilia, 1:49.746<BR>7. Neil Hodgson, Ducati, 1:49.748<BR>8. Ruben Xaus, Ducati, no time, crash<BR>9. Tadayuki Okada, Honda, 1:50.076<BR>10. James Toseland, Ducati, 1:50.189<BR>11. Stephane Chambon, Suzuki, 1:50.792<BR>12. Pierfrancesco Chili, Suzuki, 1:51.026<BR>13. Giovanni Bussei, Ducati, 1:51.227<BR>14. Lucio Pedercini, Ducati, 1:51.479<BR>15. Broc Parkes, Ducati, 1:51.971<BR>16. Akira Yanagawa, Kawasaki, no time<BR><BR><BR>Muggeridge claims pole for the season's final Supersport race<BR><BR>Karl Muggeridge claimed pole position for tomorrow's World Supersport finale in Imola, Italy. The Australian Suzuki star pulled a fast lap out of the bag as the session came to an end to push championship contender Paolo Casoli back into second place. Casoli crashed his Yamaha just after setting a pole time, which no doubt played into Muggeridge's hands, as Casoli didn't go<BR>back out on the track to defend his provisional pole. Instead, championship leader Casoli had to watch from the pit lane as Muggeridge snatched pole from him.<BR><BR>Yesterday's provisional pole-sitter, Pere Riba, was another faller--he lowsided his Honda half way through the session and had to make do with just one bike for the rest of qualifying. He slipped down the order and will start 8th. His teammate Fabien Foret showed maturity by keeping his head and settling for third on the grid as others crashed out trying to better their times. "I took it easy after my fast lap, the front row is better than the medical center!"<BR><BR>Casoli's Championship rivals didn't fare so well. Only Casoli, Andrew Pitt and reigning champion Jorg Teuchert can win the title on Sunday. Teuchert's chances don't look great at the moment, he will have to start from the fourth row, while Pitt is on the second row. So Casoli has the head start, both on points and grid position for the race. But anyone who's been watching Supersport racing knows that literally anything can happen in the close racing that typifies the class. With the Superbike championship already decided, the Supersport race is likely to be the most exciting event on Sunday, the final day of WSBK this year.<BR><BR>Final World Supersport qualifying times<BR>Imola, Italy<BR>1. Karl Muggeridge, AUS, Suzuki, 1:53.554<BR>2. Paolo Casoli, ITA, Yamaha, 1:53.559<BR>3. Fabien Foret, FRA, Honda, 1:53.590,<BR>4. Vittoriano Guareschi, ITA, Ducati, 1:53.690<BR>5. James Whitham, GBR, Yamaha, 1:53.937<BR>6. Stefano Cruciani, ITA, Yamaha, 1:53.943<BR>7. Andrew Pitt, AUS, Kawasaki, 1:54.023<BR>8. Pere Riba, ESP, Honda, 1:54.027<BR>9. Katsuaki Fujiwara, JPN, Suzuki, 1:54.074<BR>10. Vittorio Iannuzzo, ITA, Suzuki 1:54.365