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May 10, 2002

Updated Post: Hodgson Fastest, Edwards 2nd, Bostrom Brothers 4th And 10th In First World Superbike Qualifying Session At Monza

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Hodgson fast at Monza<BR><BR>By Glenn LeSanto<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson recorded the fastest time in Friday's qualifying at Monza today with a best lap of 1:48.282.<BR><BR>The HM Plant Ducati rider beat the existing lap record for the historic 3.6-mile circuit, known to many as the ‘cathedral of motorsport'. Colin Edwards, who was second fastest in the session, also beat the record.<BR><BR>Edwards thought he could have gone faster still, "I got two clear laps in the whole of the one-hour session and both of them were 1:48.6," said Edwards "It's really difficult to get a lap with riders looking around everywhere trying to get into your slipstream at 200mph."<BR><BR>Edwards was also twice penalised for overshooting the circuit's first chicane, he joked: "Braking's not my strong point at that chicane at the moment!" Riders who miss the chicane during qualifying have their lap time discarded.<BR><BR>Troy Bayliss was third fastest and Ben Bostrom lined up alongside his fellow Ducati rider on the provisional front. <BR><BR>Pier-Francesco Chili is in fifth place, only five weeks after breaking his collarbone in South Africa.<BR><BR>James Toseland in sixth, Chris Walker in and Gregorio Lavilla completed the second row.<BR><BR>Friday's World Superbike qualifying times:<BR><BR>1 Neil Hodgson, GB (Ducati) 1:48.282<BR>2 Colin Edwards, USA (Castrol Honda) 1:48.612<BR>3 Troy Bayliss, Australia (Ducati) 1:49.036<BR>4 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 1:49.052s<BR>5 Pier-Francesco Chili, Italy (Ducati) 1:49.082<BR>6 James Toseland, GB (Ducati) 1:49.335<BR>7 Chris Walker, GB (Kawasaki) 1:49.671<BR>8 Gregorio Lavilla, Spain (Suzuki) 1:49.923<BR>9 Marco Borciani, Italy (Ducati) 1:50.127<BR>10 Eric Bostrom, USA (Kawasaki) 1:50.175<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release:<BR><BR>TROY BAYLISS Racing - Media Information<BR>For immediate release<BR>Friday, 10 May 2002<BR><BR>Round 5, 2002 Superbike World Championship<BR>Monza Circuit, Italy<BR>First qualifying session<BR><BR>BAYLISS THIRD FASTEST IN OPENING QUALIFYING SESSION AT MONZA<BR><BR>Monza, Italy - Clearing weather conditions for the opening qualifying session for round five of the 2002 Superbike World Championship have seen defending World Superbike Champion, Australian Troy Bayliss post the third quickest time at the Monza Circuit in Italy today, Friday May 10.<BR><BR>Fastest rider in today's qualifying session was Britain's Neil Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati), who set a best lap of 1-min 48.282-secs around the fast 5.793km Italian circuit. Second fastest and the only other rider in the sub 1:49 bracket was Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards with a best of 1:48.612. Bayliss completed 23-laps during the one hour session aboard his Infostrada Ducati 998R, recording a time of 1:49.036 to see him third fastest and on the front row of the grid at this early stage. Rounding out the top four was American Ben Bostrom (L&M Ducati) who shaded Bayliss with a 1:49.052.<BR><BR>"I had hoped to do a bit better than I did, but it didn't work out that way," Bayliss said afterwards. "Things were going well during the session and we were making good progress, but I just wasn't able to put the lap together that I needed to get near or better than Neil's time. After the rain this morning the track dried for the afternoon which was good, so hopefully it will stay that way for the rest of the weekend. The weather has been very indifferent here over the past few days, but I'm sure that we can go a lot quicker if the track remains dry for tomorrow's sessions. We have a few more things to try on the bike tomorrow, so I'm confident we can be right on the pace that is needed."<BR><BR>Fifth fastest was local favourite and four-times SWC Monza race winner Pierfrancesco Chili. The Italian NCR Ducati rider is returning after breaking his collarbone at the third round of the championship in South Africa and was within a second of Hodgson's fastest lap stopping the clocks with a 1:49.082. He was lying fourth overall until the final moments of the session when Bostrom bettered his time.<BR><BR>Rounding out the top 10 were James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati, 1:49.335), Chris Walker (FUCHS Kawasaki, 1:49.671), Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki, 1:49.923), Marco Borciani (Pedercini Ducati, 1:50.127) and Eric Bostrom (FUCHS Kawasaki, 1:50.175).<BR><BR>Qualifying for the World Superbike competitors concludes tomorrow (Saturday) morning, followed by the afternoon's Superpole session that will determine the starting order for the top 16 riders for Sunday's two 18-lap SWC races.<BR><BR>First Qualifying session, Friday (Top Ten)<BR><BR>1. Neil Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati), 1:48.282<BR><BR>2. Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda), 1:48.612<BR><BR>3. Troy Bayliss (Infostrada Ducati), 1:49.036<BR><BR>4. Ben Bostrom (L&M Ducati), 1:49.052<BR><BR>5. Pierfrancesco Chili (NCR Ducati), 1:49.082<BR><BR>6. James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati), 1:49.335<BR><BR>7. Chris Walker (FUCHS Kawasaki), 1:49.671<BR><BR>8. Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki), 1:49.923<BR><BR>9. Marco Borciani (Pedercini Ducati), 1:50.127<BR><BR>10. Eric Bostrom (FUCHS Kawasaki), 1:50.175<BR><BR>Superbike lap record: Colin Edwards (Honda), 1:48.913 (2001)<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from Castrol Honda:<BR><BR>HODGSON SETS SUPERBIKE PACE<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson set the fastest time in the opening qualifying session for round five of the World Superbike championship at Monza in Italy on Friday.<BR><BR>The British Ducati rider and second-placed Colin Edwards, the 2000 world champion, were the only two riders to beat the existing lap record for the<BR>3.6-mile circuit near Milan.<BR><BR>Castrol Honda's Edwards said he was happy with his display in the one-hour session and on his opening day performance after leading the way in this morning's free practice session.<BR><BR>"I know that we¹ve got a lot more to come from the SP-2 yet," said Edwards. "We've spent today working on the machine set-up but mainly looking for potential race tyres.<BR><BR>"The rain this morning and a damp track at the start of this afternoon's session hasn't helped but it's the same for everyone. I got two clear laps in the whole of the one-hour session and both of them were 1:48.6. It's really difficult to get a lap with riders looking around everywhere trying to get into your slipstream at 200 mph."<BR><BR>Edwards was also twice penalised for overshooting the circuit¹s first chicane, he joked: "Braking's not my strong point at that chicane at the moment!"<BR><BR>World Champion and this year's series leader Troy Bayliss was third quickest as the sun shone on the picturesque parkland track.<BR><BR>Ben Bostrom, on a Ducati, completes the provisional front row for Sunday's two 18-lap races. Pier-Francesco Chili ­ back from injury after breaking a shoulder at the South African round five weeks ago ­ heads the provisional second row, in fifth place.<BR><BR>James Toseland took sixth on his private Ducati with Chris Walker seventh on a Kawasaki and Suzuki's Gregorio Lavilla eighth.<BR><BR><BR>And now the Fuchs Kawasaki version:<BR><BR>WALKER AND BOSTROM QUALIFY TOP TEN ON THEIR FIRST VISIT TO MONZA<BR><BR>Chris Walker timed his qualifying run to perfection at Monza this afternoon, jumping from fourteenth to seventh place on the provisional grid in the final two minutes of the session.<BR><BR>Not having raced at Monza before, and with this morning's free practice being held in damp conditions, the opening qualifying session was the first opportunity for Walker to learn his way around the circuit in the dry. As the session progressed, so did Walker's times, with the 30-year-old Fuchs Kawasaki rider eventually ending the day as the fastest four-cylinder qualifier.<BR><BR>'Considering the fact that this is my first time at Monza, I'm pretty happy with the way things have gone today,' said Walker. 'There are still improvements to be had though, as I'm losing a lot of time through the fast chicane at the back of the circuit, where I'm having a few problems getting the bike stopped and turned. I'm probably losing half a second through the chicane and then another half a second down the following straight, because I'm not coming out of the turn as fast as I should be. Obviously, this is an area we will be looking to improve upon tomorrow. Everywhere else the bike feels fine and, overall, I've had a pretty good day.'<BR><BR>Like his team-mate, the opening qualifying session was also Eric Bostrom's first time on a dry Monza circuit. After qualifying tenth fastest, higher up the provisional grid than a number of the more experienced WSB regulars, the Californian declared himself impressed with the speed of the circuit.<BR><BR>'This circuit takes balls,' commented Bostrom. 'It's real fast but, because of the speed, you have to be real accurate with your braking markers. My main problem today was the amount of pressure I put on myself. After this morning's wet session I really wanted to go well this afternoon and the end result was that I was trying just a little too hard, not letting it come naturally and not riding consistently from lap to lap. Overall I'm happy, but we know we've got a lot of work to do tomorrow.'<BR><BR><BR>From Ducati:<BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR>Round 5 – Monza (Italy)<BR><BR>Friday Qualifying<BR><BR>FIVE DUCATIS IN TOP SIX – BAYLISS (DUCATI INFOSTRADA) & BOSTROM (DUCATI L&M) 3RD AND 4TH - HODGSON QUICKEST FOR HM PLANT DUCATI<BR><BR>Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) and Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) powered to third and fourth position respectively in first qualifying for the Italian round of the World Superbike Championship at Monza on Sunday. Championship leader Bayliss, who won both races here last year, set 1'49.036 on his Ducati 998 Factory, seven-tenths of a second away from polesitter Neil Hodgson, who was in excellent form on an HM Plant Ducati. Californian Ben Bostrom was a fraction slower than Bayliss on his L&M Ducati 998 Factory to make up the provisional front row. Ruben Xaus could only manage seventeenth fastest time on the second Infostrada Ducati 998 and risks missing out on Superpole if it rains in tomorrow's second and final qualifying session.<BR><BR>"I was expecting to do a bit better today after recent testing here", declared Bayliss, "but we ended up by being half-a-second off last week's pace on the same tyres. The set-up of my Ducati Infostrada 998 is not so bad, but I need a bit more grip at the rear and then I'll be a lot happier. We're going in the right direction and we tested a few things today, but we've still got some way to go".<BR><BR>"I was a bit disappointed with my time despite being fourth quickest", commented Bostrom. "Troy and I went out together at the end of the session, but there were 5 guys in front of us and I couldn't get a good lap on a softer tyre. I'm pretty happy with the changes we made to the steering, they have made the bike feel much better. Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow, so we can fine-tune the set-up and get comfortable with the new bike settings, and then we should be right there".<BR><BR>"I didn't test here last week like the other guys so it's taking me a bit of time to get used to riding again and I was unable to get a good set-up on the bike" said Xaus. "My hand is not giving me too much trouble, but for the moment I'm not able to lap as quick as I would like. When the time came for me to go out and set a quick lap at the end of the session, I found traffic on the track, but that's life. Tomorrow hopefully it won't rain, which will give me a chance to qualify for Superpole"<BR><BR>More from a HM Plant Ducati press release:<BR><BR>Hodgson sets fastest ever lap at Monza<BR><BR>HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing star Neil Hodgson has scorched to provisional pole position for Sunday's Superbike races at the Monza Autodrome. The 28-year-old from Burnley was in devastating form as he smashed the outright lap record at the Northern Italian circuit, going 0.3s faster than his nearest challenger, 2000 World Champion Colin Edwards. Hodgson's team-mate James Toseland also put in an outstanding qualifying performance to become the sixth quickest rider of the session.<BR><BR>Torrential rain had blighted the first timed session and the track was still drying when Hodgson set his best time of 1:48.282 – 0.3s faster than anyone has ever covered the 5.79km circuit. <BR><BR>"I'm really pleased to be in such as strong position," said Hodgson, "just in case the weather doesn't hold out. The most encouraging thing about my time is that it was clocked on a race tyre. I didn't get within a second of that on a qualifier, because I got caught up in traffic. This circuit rewards riders who have total confidence in their machinery and can keep it smooth through the chicanes and high-speed corners. That suits me because I really feel in tune with the HM Plant Ducati and always try to keep things flowing. My Dunlop tyres are also performing fantastically well and we've got some really good settings worked out, and that means that the bike is an absolute missile around Monza."<BR><BR>James Toseland once more outperformed other more experienced factory riders, including Chris Walker and Noriyuki Haga, to state his case for a second row start. The Sheffield-based rider's impressive time of 1:49.335 was just one second off the searing pace set by his provisional pole-sitting team-mate. <BR><BR>"Sixth is as good as I could have hoped for at this stage. I've learned a lot from studying Neil's set-up and once I had the bike as I wanted it, I knew that I could improve in this afternoon session. My confidence is growing with every lap on the HM Plant Ducati and that's what you need around this circuit – confidence."<BR><BR>More from an Aprilia press release:<BR><BR>HAGA AT WORK TO GAIN GROUND <BR><BR>Monza (Milan), Friday 10 May 2002 - Noriyuki Haga makes 11th time in the first day of qualifying sessions for the Italian Superbike Grand Prix at Monza. The Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team rider from Japan made use of today's two sessions to match the settings and suspension to the characteristics of the new Dunlop tyres. On the 2002 championship's fastest track, Haga has only the experience of a brief half-day test ten days ago - by no means sufficient to complete the task of perfecting the set-up. <BR><BR>NORIYUKI HAGA (Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team) said: "Track conditions have little in common with the brief test we did on Monday 29 April. So we've had to start from scratch. We've got to solve the problem of rear-wheel vibration during braking, and we're hoping to get there by changing the calibration of the suspension. There's still one more day to improve our position." <BR><BR>GIACOMO GUIDOTTI (Technical Manager, Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team) commented: "Monza is a lightning-fast circuit, very different from the ones we've been on so far this season: we've found ourselves up against a whole series of problems we weren't expecting. We worked today on the performance of the tyres, frame, suspension and brakes without caring too much about the timing. Haga did very few kilometres here with our bike and we still don't have all the data we need to take on the competition. But the potential for getting our own back sure isn't lacking." <BR><BR>More from a Benelli press release:<BR><BR>Benelli return to racing at historic Monza<BR><BR>After their unfortunate problems at Valencia earlier this year, which resulted in Benelli missing the last three rounds, Benelli Sport<BR>returned to World Supersport competition today.<BR><BR>"It's good to be back!" declared Team owner Andrea Merloni. "We have solved all the problems we had in Valencia. The reliability is back<BR>although we are a little disappointed with the results today, we were faster here in testing on the 29th of April."<BR><BR>Despite being given tyres specially made by Dunlop for Monza, the team struggled with severe chatter in qualifying. Peter Goddard managed to<BR>qualify in a provisional 24th place.<BR><BR>"Maybe it's the tyres," said Merloni. "Or maybe it's a combination of suspension, tyres and even the weather, but we expected to be two<BR>seconds faster here today. We need another dry qualifying session to get a good grid position, unfortunately we can't rely on the weather<BR>forecast, in Italy they are a lottery!"<BR><BR>Away from racing there was good news for Benelli, the beautiful Tornado road bike is in full production and Benelli expect to start the first<BR>deliveries to dealers in a little over a week.<BR><BR>"We already have many orders for the new road bike," confirmed Merloni. "That makes me very happy."<BR><BR>Reaction to the Benelli Tornado has been positive since the first time the bike was shown to the public, and the factory have managed to bring<BR>the bike from prototype to production while remaining faithful to the original design. The bike looks set to become an instant Italian<BR>classic!<BR>