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Jul 27, 2002

World Superbike Team Press Releases From Saturday's Action At Brands Hatch

From Ducati Corse:<BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP<BR><BR>Round 10 – Brands Hatch (UK), 28 July 2002<BR><BR>SATURDAY QUALIFYING & SUPERPOLE<BR><BR>BAYLISS (DUCATI INFOSTRADA) CRASHES OUT IN QUALIFYING BUT GRABS FRONT-ROW GRID POSITION FOR BRANDS SUPERBIKE – BOSTROM (DUCATI L&M) AND XAUS (DUCATI INFOSTRADA) START FROM ROWS 2 AND 3 – POLE FOR HODGSON (HM PLANT DUCATI)<BR><BR>Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) produced another extraordinary display of courage at Brands Hatch as he battled back from a nasty qualifying crash to grab a front row starting position for tomorrow's two World Superbike championship races. The reigning world champion and current points leader set fourth quickest time of 1'26.801 in Superpole, hours after crashing out on the opening lap of the morning's second and final qualifying session. Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) qualified in eighth position and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) in twelfth as Britain's Neil Hodgson set a new circuit best lap on his HM Plant Ducati to grab pole in front of his home fans.<BR><BR>Just seconds after Troy and Ruben had set off from the pits at the start of the session, the two Ducati Infostrada riders had a misunderstanding at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend which led to contact between the bikes. While Ruben continued up Hailwood Hill, Troy had to take to the grass, where he lost control of his 998 and, after a series of heavy tumbles, ended up against the air-fence. He was taken to the circuit medical centre and was diagnosed as having a cracked twelfth rib in his lower back. After being given the OK to race, the Australian was back out on his Infostrada 998 in the afternoon's free practice session, where he was third quickest, and in Superpole, where he secured fourth place. <BR><BR>"I was coming round Paddock Hill Bend on my usual line on the outside, Ruben moved over and we touched. When I went onto the grass I thought ‘This is going to be a big one!'" declared Troy about the crash. "We changed the bike a little bit for Superpole but it was worse and I made a couple of slides, which slowed me down a lot. In the end I'm on the front row which I'm pretty happy about but I'm also pretty lucky after what happened today. Free practice wasn't too bad and we did a good long-run but I missed the morning's session. Obviously now I'm feeling pretty sore but I'll be there to race tomorrow. It was just one of those crashes that happen. No one was in the wrong and we were just unlucky."<BR><BR>"I was just warming up the tyres when Troy came up on me from behind. I didn't even know he was there" explained Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada). The Spanish rider then set good race times in the afternoon's free practice session, but missed out on a good starting-grid position by qualifying twelfth, with a time of 1'27.490. "I made the same mistake as last year at the same corner" declared Ruben. "I spin the tyre and loose a little bit of grip and here if you loose grip you go off the line. You need to be perfect here in Brands Superpole, it's not like using a race tyre where you can go off line. Everything is perfect for the race, I have a good set-up and I went fast on race tyres so I need to do a good start and be in the top 5 and that's all, because I'm sure some of the guys in front of me won't last".<BR> <BR><BR>Last year's double winner Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) moved up one place from ninth after qualifying, to eighth with his Superpole lap of 1'27.036. "I felt like I was on a good lap" commented Ben. "I knew I wasn't the quickest round a few corners because I was pushing the bike real hard but I thought it would be at least a low 26, no problem. When I came by and saw a 27 flat, I was so disappointed. Like I said before, you think you're going fast here at Brands but then you find out that it isn't a quick lap at all. We were fast in the long run during free practice but that's on race tyres and I needed to be on the front row to be up there in the first laps. You always have to watch out at the first corner because all hell breaks loose and for that you have to be on the front row."<BR><BR><BR>More, from HM Plant Ducati:<BR><BR>Hodgson signs a note of intent<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson gave the thousands of HM Plant Ducati fans who had made the pilgrimage to Brands Hatch exactly what they wanted when he set the fastest ever lap around the Grand Prix circuit. His inch-perfect 1:25.752 performance was deadly effective in its purpose of placing the British rider on pole position for Sunday's two Superbike races. His 21-year-old team-mate James Toseland also excelled in his Superpole session and earned himself a sixth-placed start that will see him line up ahead of several established factory riders, including Ben Bostrom and Noriyuki Haga.<BR><BR>Hodgson would never have been satisfied with anything less than the prime starting position and this was clearly evident in the perfectly controlled ferocity of his single flying lap. As well as displaying Superpole supremacy, Hodgson had also been stringing together consistently fast laps throughout practice and regulation qualifying, while he searched for the perfect race set-up and tyre. <BR><BR>"With a crowd like this behind me there was no way that I was going to miss out on pole," says Hodgson. "The hundreds of HM Plant Ducati banners and the massive cheer that I got as I rode around was the final element that allowed me to find the extra one per cent that I needed to go faster than everyone else. I'm glad that I could give them what they wanted and I'm not about to stop now. I knew that the lap was a good one – it had to be to beat Edwards – but in retrospect, I think that there were one or two corners where I could have opened the throttle a little earlier. Admittedly, it might have been the difference between getting out of the turn and highsiding and if it had let go I'd probably have landed at GSE Group headquarters in Ashford! But the attitude that I have right now is that I'd happily risk my third place in the championship for two race wins tomorrow."<BR><BR>The heat of competition in 2002 is best illustrated by the fact that Toseland's time of 1:26.970 would have taken him to second place on the grid in 2001. This year however, it was good enough to pick him up eight places in Superpole, despite a big slide adding valuable fractions of a second to his lap. <BR><BR>"The back end stepped right out on me in the first section and I had to get a move on to try and reclaim some of the time that I lost," explains Toseland. "When I got back in and saw my time I didn't think it was that good, but in the end only the top boys were able to beat it. I'd struggled with set-up on Friday and earlier today, so we went back to the drawing board and came up with the goods for Superpole. I'm happy with the way that the bike feels now and everyone has seen what it can do in Neil's hands. I also have a great Dunlop race tyre, so I'm just going to have to get down to business tomorrow and see if I can't make it two HM Plant Ducati riders on the podium."<BR><BR><BR>More, from Playstation2 FGF Aprilia:<BR><BR>HAGA ON THIRD ROW AT BRANDS HATCH <BR><BR>Brands Hatch (Great Britain), Saturday 27 July 2002 - A difficult final qualifying session for Noriyuki Haga at Brands Hatch, the British circuit hosting the tenth round of the Superbike World Championship. <BR><BR>In the morning session, the Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team ride came a bare 484 thousandths from the quickest time, halving the gap which had separated him from the leader in the Friday session. Haga had lapped in 1'26"415 but, in the Superpole, he was unable to repeat this performance, which would have put him in third place and thus on the front row. Noriyuki stopped the clock at 1'27"246, a time which does justice neither to the potential of the Aprilia RSV, nor to the skill of the rider. Haga will thus have to start from the third row, but he still has an excellent chance to put up a good fight for the European GP. <BR><BR>NORIYUKI HAGA (Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team rider) - "I'm very angry: I've always gone like a bomb here and I really was hoping to make front row. But unfortunately we had lots of problems today and I wasn't at my best. In the morning I rode well, but in the afternoon I started feeling the fatigue of my flight from Japan and the jet lag. <BR><BR>GIACOMO GUIDOTTI (Technical Manager of the Playstation2 - FGF Aprilia Team) - "In the warm-up before the Superpole, we had a problem with the bike we'd chosen to start off with, so we had to transfer all the settings to the second bike, but it just wasn't the same thing. We're not at all pleased with this result. Even so, things weren't that bad at all during the race-tyre laps: Haga kept up a constant pace of 1'27" and there aren't many riders who can go that fast. <BR><BR> <BR>