May 11, 2002
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<BR><BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By Glenn LeSanto<BR><BR>Hodgson takes pole in thrilling Superpole<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson has dominated the World Superbike class all weekend. He kept up that domination by taking pole in a thrilling Superpole.<BR><BR>After two days of rain the sun broke through, dried off the Monza Tarmac and the Superpole was declared dry. Hodgson took full advantage of the conditions and rode an aggressive but controlled lap to grab pole.<BR><BR>Behind him Troy Bayliss was just beaten by Colin Edwards, the difference between Bayliss and Edwards was only two-thousandths of a second or when measured in distance only 21cm!<BR><BR>"It was very close," said Bayliss, "I did everything I could but I made one little mistake. On a lap like that you can't make a mistake and it just wasn't good enough. I'm happy to be on the front row and depending on what the weather does tomorrow it's going to be an exciting race."<BR><BR>Asked if he had a good setup in the wet and dry Bayliss replied: "For both conditions we are happy with the way things have gone, it's bit more competitive this year. Last year it was really only Colin and myself, we were just having a bit of a battle between ourselves, but it's going to be very different tomorrow and it should be great for everybody."<BR><BR>"I want to be out front and leading them all," said Edwards. "Hodgson's obviously riding real good. I think it was Sugo where he decided to wake up but wherever, he's going to give us a run for our money. It's good to have him back up here. It'll be the three of us for sure and a few more guys from the pack ain't far behind. I don't have a race plan; we all have the same goal in mind and we'll just have to see how it pans out."<BR><BR>Hodgson admitted it had taken him a couple of races to wake up this season. "I don't know why but at Valencia I wasn't really riding at my hardest. It's taken me a little time to gel. But now I am riding really hard and I'm enjoying my racing."<BR><BR>Hodgson was obviously happy to be at Monza, "I really enjoy it here it's one of my favourite circuits. There's the long back straight where you can have a bit of a rest, I like to go past all the people hanging on the walls."<BR><BR>Asked how the circuit was on his Dunlop tyres Hodgson replied; "It might come as a shock but we have a race tyre! Dunlop have been working very hard, it's much better, it goes the distance and also there's no chatter. My plan tomorrow is I have no plan, I'm just going to ride as fast as I possibly can from the green light"<BR><BR>Pierfrancesco Chili bounced back from his injury to snatch the final front row position.<BR><BR>Broc Parkes had to re-do his Superpole lap after somebody ran in front of him on the track as he started his lap! Unfortunately it was all too much for his Ducati which ground to a halt a short while into his second attempt at a flying lap.<BR><BR>World Superbike Championship Final Qualifying Results From Monza:<BR><BR>1. Neil Hodgson, Ducati 998 F01, 1:47.913<BR>2. Colin Edwards, Honda RC51, 1:48.413<BR>3. Troy Bayliss, Ducati 998 F02, 1:48.415<BR>4. Pierfrancesco Chili, Ducati 998 RS, 1:48.662<BR>5. Noriyuki Haga, Aprilia RSV1000, 1:49.206<BR>6. James Toseland, Ducati 998 F01, 1:49.541<BR>7. Lucio Pedercini, Ducati 998 RS, 1:49.800<BR>8. Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki ZX-7RR, 1:50.009<BR>9. Steve Martin, Ducati 998 RS, 1:50.035<BR>10. Ben Bostrom, Ducati 998 F02, 1:50.091<BR>11. Marco Borciani, Ducati 998 RS, 1:50.402<BR>12. Alessandro Antonello, Ducati 998 RS, 1:50.577<BR>13. Gregorio Lavilla, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:50.945<BR>14. Juan Borja, Ducati 998 RS, 1:50.958<BR>15. Chris Walker, Kawasaki ZX-7RR, 1:51.002<BR>16. Broc Parkes, Ducati 998 RS, 1:50.737<BR>17. Ruben Xaus, Ducati 998 F02, 1:50.994<BR>18. Mauro Sanchini, Kawasaki ZX-7RR, 1:51.835<BR>19. Paolo Blora, Ducati 996 RS, 1:51.926<BR>20. Serafino Foti, Ducati 996 RS, 1:52.975<BR><BR>24. Peter Goddard, Benelli Tornado 900, 1:54.128<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from a Castrol Honda press release:<BR><BR>SECOND FOR EDWARDS<BR><BR>Castrol Honda¹s Colin Edwards will start from second place on the grid in tomorrow¹s fifth round of the World Superbike championship here at Monza, Italy despite beating his own lap record by more than half a second in the Superpole final qualifying.<BR><BR>Edwards starts on the front row, alongside polesetter Neil Hodgson and American SP-2 rider Edwards believes the two races will be a three-way tussle between himself, Hodgson and third-on-the-grid, Troy Bayliss.<BR><BR>"Monza is not easy to put the perfect lap together," said Edwards. "It's about the longest circuit we use and you have to be perfect through all three chicanes I made a mess of the second one on my Superpole lap.<BR><BR>"I know that Neil (Hodgson), Troy (Bayliss) and myself will be near the front in tomorrow¹s races but I wouldn't be surprised if Chili or someone else is up there too.<BR><BR>"We're in good shape with the race set-up although, if it is wet tomorrow, that will count for nothing. We could have done with a little more dry weather testing but that's the same for everyone."<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from Troy Bayliss' publicist:<BR><BR>FRONT ROW START FOR BAYLISS AT MONZA WORLD SUPERBIKE ROUND<BR><BR>Monza, Italy - The changing weather conditions at the Monza Circuit continued to play havoc for the teams and riders as they worked their way through a wet final qualifying session, before the weather cleared for the Superpole session which determined the starting order for tomorrow's fifth round of the 2002 Superbike World Championship.<BR><BR>With rain falling during this morning's final qualifying session, defending World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss along with everyone else was unable to improve on their lap times set during Friday's opening qualifying session. All attention was then drawn to the afternoon's grid position determining Superpole, which was fortunately held in dry conditions. <BR><BR>On his Superpole lap Bayliss was able to improve on his previous best time to record a 1-min 48.415-sec around the famous 5.793km Italian circuit. His time however was eclipsed first by Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards (1:48.413) and finally by Neil Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati) who smashed the lap record to grab pole position for the event with a stunning time of 1:47.913. Hodgson's time was a full second under Edwards' existing Superbike lap record set at last year's event.<BR><BR>"My Superpole lap was OK but it wasn't perfect," said Bayliss. "I ran a bit wide at the Ascari bends, plus I don't think that I was as aggressive as I could have been. Both Neil (Hodgson) and Colin (Edwards) have been on the pace all weekend, so I'm not too surprised by the times, but it would have been nice to have been on pole, but it is still good to be on the front row of the grid anyway. Because of the high speeds around Monza we have had to switch from a front tyre that I would normally use to another type due to the heat that is generated. I think a few of the other guys have had a similar problem, it's a case f different tyres suiting different tracks I guess.<BR><BR>"The weather has made things very difficult around here that's for sure," Bayliss added. "The track dries quickly which is good and with the mixture of wet and dry sessions that we've had, we have been able to set the bike up well to cope with either condition.<BR><BR>"As for the race tomorrow I expect them to be tough as usual. There could be about six or so different guys in the lead group, so the plan will be to stay with them and keep out of trouble in the first eight laps or so and see what happens from there. I did a lot of laps on the race tyre that we will likely use tomorrow, so I'm confident that we will have a good package for the race."<BR><BR>Completing the front row of the grid for tomorrow's two 18-lap World Superbike races is local favourite and four times SWC race winner at Monza, Pierfrancesco Chili. The NCR Ducati rider posted a time of 1:48.662 in what is his comeback ride after missing the last two rounds of the championship with a broken collarbone.<BR><BR>Row two will be headed by Japan's Noriyuki Haga (Playstation2 Aprilia) who was the big improver in the session, moving from eleventh to fifth on the grid after setting a time of 1:49.206. Joining Haga on row two are James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati, 1:49.541), Lucio Pedercini (Pedercini Ducati, 1:49.800) and Eric Bostrom (Fuchs Kawasaki, 1:50.009). Australian Steve Martin (DFX Ducati, 1:50.035) was ninth and will head row three one place ahead of Ben Bostrom (L&M Ducati, 1:50.091) who rounds out the top ten.<BR><BR><BR>From a Fuchs Kawasaki press release:<BR><BR>BOSTROM BLITZES HIS WAY ONTO THE SECOND ROW AT MONZA<BR><BR>Eric Bostrom blitzed his way around his Superpole lap at Monza this afternoon, recording his best time of the weekend to claim a second row start for tomorrow's two 18-lap Superbike races.<BR><BR>The Californian, standing in for regular Fuchs Kawasaki rider, Hitoyasu Izutsu, hadn't even seen Monza before arriving at the circuit on Thursday, but that didn't stop him backing his factory Kawasaki ZX-7RR into almost every turn on his way to setting the eighth fastest time in Superpole. Despite wowing the crowd with his hang it all out style, the reigning AMA Supersport 600 champion was surprised to learn he'd qualified so far up the grid.<BR><BR>'I don't feel I belong on the second row, because my Superpole lap didn't really feel all that good,' said Bostrom. 'This is a tough track at which to get into a groove; it's not so bad when you string a few laps together, but it's difficult to go out cold and put in one fast lap when you don't really know the place that well. The track flows, so if you mess up in one turn, it affects your whole lap, and I think that's what happened to quite a few riders out there this afternoon. We've not been that much faster on qualifying rubber compared to race tyres, so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to continue the improvement we've seen in each session so far during the races tomorrow.' <BR><BR>Chris Walker saw any chance of a high grid position disappear when a missed gear and a near highside at Ascari lost him valuable time on his Superpole lap. Walker will start tomorrow's two races from the fourth row of the grid - or the barbeque row as he refers to it; '...because you always get smoked at the start.' <BR><BR>'My Superpole lap started out well, but then I missed a gear going into the left-hander, ran in way too deep and then ran wide on the exit. I got on the gas early at the next turn, trying to make up time, but the back end stepped out and had me out of the seat; game over,' said Walker. 'It's going to be tough starting from the fourth row tomorrow. This is a real fast track at which slipstreaming plays a vital part and once the leading group manage to get away, they're never going to come back to you. It's just going to be a case of head down and go for it tomorrow I guess.'<BR><BR>More from an Aprilia press release:<BR><BR>HAGA UP IN SUPERPOLE RATINGS <BR><BR>Monza (Milan), Saturday 11 May 2002 - Noriyuki Haga took the Aprilia RSV Mille into fifth place in the final qualifying sessions of the Italian round at Monza. The Japanese ace gained no fewer than six places compared with Friday's tests and reduced the gap separating him from the fastest lap time. Despite the changing weather and track conditions which complicated the development work, the Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team is back in the running for a prestige result. Noriyuki Haga is increasingly an idol for the Italian public: throughout the entire day, Nitro-Nori's pits were besieged by fans. <BR><BR>NORIYUKI HAGA (Playstation2 - FGF Team Aprilia rider) declared: "We made the greatest progress during the warm-up for the Superpole, the session we use for preparing for the race. I found some solutions which let me maintain a good pace for several consecutive laps. As far as the tyres are concerned, I've got some pretty clear ideas. We now need to see what's going to happen tomorrow as far as the weather's concerned. This is the first time I've raced at Monza: we started from scratch but we're sure catching up with the competition." <BR><BR>GIACOMO GUIDOTTI (Technical Manager Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team) commented: "The biggest problem on Friday was again the vibrations at the rear - we worked long and hard but we're still not quite there. On the other hand, we have made some progress. We've still got tomorrow's warm-up session to carry on getting things right."<BR><BR>More an HM Plant Ducati press release:<BR><BR> Hodgson on pole at Monza<BR><BR>HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing rider Neil Hodgson obliterated his own outright lap record at the Monza Autodrome, to take pole position for Sunday's Superbike races. His Superpole lap time of 1:47.913 was over 0.3s faster than his best time from Friday's qualifying session, 0.5s quicker than that of his nearest rival, and almost 0.7s quicker than the previous lap record. His team-mate James Toseland will start from sixth place on the grid after putting in an extremely impressive 1:49.541 Superpole lap.<BR><BR>Colin Edwards (second) and Troy Bayliss (third) will line up next to Hodgson on tomorrow's grid. The pair of world champions were simply unable to match the devastating speed of the #100 HM Plant Ducati. <BR><BR>"I'm absolutely ecstatic to be on pole," said Hodgson, "and to have done it so convincingly makes it all the sweeter. I feel totally at one with my bike at the moment and would like to thank the HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing team for all their hard work. A lot of the credit also has to go to Dunlop. They've dedicated a lot of time to me for this round and the fantastic tyres that I now have at my disposal complete the awesome package that we now have. For the first time this season I feel like I'm in a position to take race wins and I'll be giving it everything to make sure that that's exactly what I do." <BR><BR>James Toseland's sixth-placed start tops-off a glorious day for the HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing team. The young Sheffield-based star excelled around the ultra high-speed 5.79km circuit, putting himself firmly among the front-runners for tomorrow's competition.<BR><BR>"I feel really strong right now and I think that my qualifying performance reflects that. My confidence in the HM Plant Ducati is at an all-time high and I feel like I'm in a good position to make my presence felt during the races. I truly believe that this is my best chance yet of making it onto the podium."<BR><BR>Should the British pairing realise their aims, it would be the first time in SBK history that both riders from a non-factory team have made it onto the same podium.<BR><BR>