Sunday, May 9


MASSIMILIANO Biaggi topped an incredible lead-up to round five of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship, snatching his first ever Superbike pole position. His effort meant it was also the first time Aprilia's year-old RSV4 has topped the class in Superpole.

Incredibly, Biaggi's time was almost two seconds under the pole record, set last year by eventual 2009 Superbike World Champion Ben Spies (Yamaha). Biaggi blasted the V4 Aprilia around in 1m 42.141s, compared with Spies' old record of 1m 44.073s. Biaggi's Aprilia also set a new Superbike top speed record, streaking through the speed trap at 330 km/h and averaging 203.653 km/h for the complete lap.

But it was not just Biaggi running hot at Monza: in the first Superpole session (Superpole 1), the top 16 riders were all under Spies' pole position record as they strove to make it to the second Superpole session. The pace was just as hot in Superpole 2, with all 16 riders again under the pole record, with eight of them still not making it to Superpole 3, which sets the first two rows of the grid.

After big improvements for rounds three and four, Troy Corser on the factory BMW S1000RR was 'bumped' - failing to make the cut to Superbike 3. However, in a dramatic turnaround in fortunes, the Paul Bird Kawasaki of Tom Sykes just made it to Superpole 3 with a 1m 43.207s effort on the improving ZX-10R. He was the last rider to make the cut to Superpole 1 and eventually ended up on the outside of the second row.

To rub salt into Corser's wounded pride, his team-mate Rueben Xaus found something extra to take his BMW to the final Superpole session. Prior to that, Corser had been faster than his team-mate in all five sessions.

Up to that point, 2009 Supersport World Champion Cal Crutchlow was fastest man around the 5.7 km Monza circuit, with a 1:42.255 effort on the Sterligarda Yamaha YZF-R1, just ahead of the Xerox Ducati of last year's race one winner Michel Fabrizio. Curiously, Crutchlow and Fabrizio had topped the time sheets right at the start of the weekend, when they headed the first practice session on Friday morning. Even at that early stage they were under Spies' pole record, as were Jonathan Rea (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) and Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000).

But in the final Superpole session, Biaggi uncorked his amazing lap to snatch pole away from Crutchlow with Fabrizio and Rea the other two riders on the front row.

The second row was headed by championship leader Leon Haslam, who said he was baulked on his two flying laps, first by James Toseland (Sterligarda Yamaha YZF-R1) and the second time by Skykes on the Kawasaki.

The remainder of the second row was made up of Rueben Xaus (BMW S1000RR), Toseland and Sykes.

For the complete list of Superbike Superpoke times from Monza, go to:

Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam just missed out on a front row grid place in Superpole 3 this afternoon when he was baulked on his two flying laps. The first time was by James Toseland (Yamaha) and the second was by another of his fellow countrymen - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki). But for those two instances, Leon would’ve qualified on the front row for sure. His team-mate Sylvain Guintoli struggled to find a good rhythm today and ended with the 14th quickest time in Superpole. He now faces a difficult task staring tomorrow’s pair of 18 lap races from the fourth row of the grid.

Leon Haslam
"I’m disappointed not to be on the front row, but I am pretty happy with my bike and feel confident about the races tomorrow. I was on a quick lap in final Superpole, but got pushed out wide by James (Toseland). So I thought I’d go for it on the second lap, but this time Tom (Sykes) was on my racing line and I had to go round him to get past and lost time in the process.

"It’s good that the first turn is a long way from the start and as long as I get off the line well I’ll be with the front guys for sure. The first chicane is going to be tight and I hope nobody tries to do anything stupid there on the first lap. I think that a wet race might be better for the championship, but I guess we’d all rather prefer two dry races and a lot of close-quarter racing. We’re probably going to get that anyway!"

Sylvain Guintoli
"Once again, I am having a problem finding a good rhythm and being here in Monza for the first time is no real excuse. It’s my job as a racer to learn tracks quickly and I have not succeeded as well as I wanted to. I’m disappointed not to have done better today and now my job tomorrow is going to be a lot harder as I will be starting from the fourth row of the grid. The other thing is that I didn’t manage to improve much when I was on qualifying tyres and that is something I will have to get used to and sort out.

"We not far off where we want to be, but in this championship not far is a like a long way off! The series is so competitive that any small slip in qualifying can push you way back down the grid. I have been practising my starts and now I need two good ones tomorrow."

Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland put in an impressive performance in Superpole, with Crutchlow just missing out on pole to start from the second position on the grid for tomorrow's two World Superbike races. The young British rider passed through each heat comfortably, fastest in the second session with an impressive 1'42.255 lap on a used race tyre. The final heat saw him miss out on pole to Max Biaggi by less than a tenth of a second.

Team-mate Toseland was also on form, clearing Superpole 1 in fifth and Superpole 2 in fourth, only three tenths off Crutchlow. The final session saw him heading for a front row start until a small mistake dropped a few tenths off his time, meaning he will start from seventh on the second row tomorrow.

Cal Crutchlow
"It was a shame to miss out on pole by less than a tenth of a second but all credit to Max for a good lap. We seemed to do a very good lap in Superpole Two on a seven lap old race tyre with a 42.2, then put two qualifiers in during the last session and I didn't feel like I had the same level of grip from them. It's going to be tough racing tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it and I think it'll be close. Being part of an Italian team and having our workshop literally a stone's throw from the Lesmo corner it's been good to deliver good results so far this weekend. They've put in a good effort, James has ridden to two fantastic podiums recently at Assen."

James Toseland
"We used both our qualifiers in the second Superpole heat and unfortunately didn't have one for the last session, however I would have done a mid 42 but I made a mistake at Lesmo on my first lap, and being a race tyre I really needed to get it in on that lap so I lost a few tenths there. That would have put me on the front row, and to say you can get there on a race tyre is encouraging. We had a problem with an engine this morning in qualifying and a different gearbox in the other bike which meant we couldn't run with the best gearing in Superpole. If it can stay dry tonight then we can try a few things in tomorrow's warm up and I'm quietly confident we can do well in the races."