Sep 28, 2001
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By Glenn Le Santo<BR><BR>Bostrom flies the flag in Imola<BR><BR>Ben Bostrom, sporting the Stars and Stripes on his fairing in memory of the tragic events of September 11th, powered his way into provisional pole in hot and sunny conditions at the historic circuit in Imola, Italy Friday afternoon. The Californian, who struggled at the last round in Holland, was fastest in Friday morning free practice and kept his momentum in the afternoon, holding off a strong challenge from on-form Ruben Xaus. The two factory Ducati riders, who are both confirmed to ride again for the factory team in 2002, jostled for pole in the final minutes of the round. Xaus looked to have clinched it, but then Bostrom dug deep and grabbed back that all-important provisional pole with a time of 1:49.218. Xaus held onto second, lapping at 1:49.369.<BR><BR>Colin Edwards was next in the running, but back a little from the front pair with a best lap of 1:49.681. He had been fastest for much of the session before the two Ducati boys got dialed in and upped the pace by half-a-second. The Castrol Honda team has been to Imola already this year for testing, so at least Edwards knows his way around the circuit, unlike many riders who have never raced here before. The factory Ducati teams have also tested at Imola already, hardly surprising, as it's only a few kilometers from the Ducati factory, just up the road in Bologna!<BR><BR>Troy Bayliss, who already has the championship in the bag, was fourth-fastest on his silver painted bike and black leathers. The Ducati factory men decided to paint his bike silver to celebrate Paul Smart's historic victory at Imola 29 years ago-–on a silver Ducati. In 1972 the Italian manufacturer took a sensational 1-2 win in the Imola 200-Mile race with Paul Smart claiming victory on a special twin-cylinder Ducati 750 Imola Desmo bike. The race changed the destiny of Ducati, which redefined its approach to racing and focused its attention almost exclusively on production-based competition machines.<BR><BR>With the title already decided, Sunday's race promises to be an exciting display of all-out racing. There will be no team orders and many riders will be going to the absolute limit of their machines and abilities to try to retain their team places or impress team owners for new positions in the 2002 season.<BR><BR><BR>Superbike Qualifying Session #1<BR>1. Ben Bostrom, USA, Ducati, 1:49.218<BR>2. Ruben Xaus, Spain, Ducati, 1:49.368<BR>3. Colin Edwards, USA, Honda, 1:49.681<BR>4. Troy Bayliss, Australia, Ducati, 1:49.708<BR>5. Regis Laconi, France, Aprilia, 1:49.755<BR>6. Neil Hodgson, Great Britain, Ducati, 1:50.150<BR>7. Tadayuki Okada, Japan, Honda, 1:50.261<BR>8. Stephane Chambon, France, Suzuki, 1:50.466<BR>9. James Toseland, Great Britain, Ducati, 1:50.501<BR>10. Troy Corser, Australia, Aprilia, 1:50.528<BR>11. Akira Yanagawa, Japan, Kawasaki, 1:50.695<BR>12. Lucio Pedercini, Italy, Ducati, 1:50.745<BR>13. Steve Martin, Australia, Ducati, 1:50.794<BR>14. Juan Batista Borja, Spain, Yamaha, 1:51.277<BR>15. Pierfrancesco Chili, Suzuki, 1:51.438<BR><BR>Supersport Qualifying #1<BR>1. Pere Riba, Honda, 1:54.135<BR>2. Paolo Casolia, Yamaha, 1:54.436<BR>3. Vittoriano Guareschi, Ducati, 1:54.516<BR>4. Fabien Foret, Honda, 1:54.624<BR>5. Piergorgio Bontempi, Yamaha, 1:54.683<BR>6. Katsuaki Fujiwara, Suzuki, 1:54.813<BR>7. Jamie Whitham, Yamaha, 1:54.857<BR>8. Christian Kelner, Yamaha, 1:54.882<BR>9. Vittorio Iannuzzo, Suzuki, 1:54.957<BR>10. Andrew Pitt, Kawasaki, 1:54.968