The Ducati Xerox Team were this afternoon celebrating with rider Michel Fabrizio as he took his first Superpole, by four hundredths of a second, in front of the countless Ducati fans at Imola. Team-mate Noriyuki Haga will join him on the front row of the grid tomorrow, having succeeding in securing fourth place during the afternoon’s exciting Superpole sessions.
This morning, with only one qualifying session, the Ducati Xerox pair, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, knew they had to make it count, and that they did. Michel, fastest yesterday in free practice, lapped consistently fast again and by the end of the session his best time had dropped by a further eight tenths of a second with respect to yesterday, meaning he qualified for the Superpole in first position, with a time of 1m49.026s. Noriyuki made a slower start to the session but gradually found feeling on the restyled track and in the last five minutes of the session, after a change of tyre, moved up to fifth position, just three tenths of a second behind team-mate Michel. Honda’s Johnny Rea, Yamaha’s Ben Spies and Shane “Shakey” Byrne on the privateer Ducati of Team Sterilgarda completed the top five.
The early afternoon free practice session passed without incident, with Michel and Noriyuki closing in very respectable third and fourth positions respectively.
The afternoon Superpole saw both Ducati Xerox men pass safely into the second phase, by concluding the first mini-session in fourth (Haga) and sixth (Fabrizio) place. In the second outing the going got tougher with ten of sixteen riders making laps in under 1m49; Michel and Nori again made it through with the sixth and seventh fastest times of the session. The final eight included four Ducati 1198 machines: those of factory riders Noriyuki and Michel, as well as the privateers Smrz (Team Guandalini) and Byrne (Team Sterilgarda). A battle for pole ensued and as the twelve minute session was coming to an end, only Michel Fabrizio and Honda’s Jonathan Ray remained on track, both going all out to beat the man at the top of the timesheets, Ben Spies. While Rea finished the lap a tenth of second slower than Spies, Michel powered to the line to record the fastest lap of the day, just 0.043 of a second faster than the American. Noriyuki took the fourth time to secure a place on the front row tomorrow while the Ducatis of Smrz and Byrne will line up behind in fifth and seventh place.
The Superpole prize was awarded to Michel by his former Ducati Xerox team-mate, reigning World Champion Troy Bayliss.
Michel Fabrizio 1m47.7s
“I am extremely happy to take my first Superpole, and happier still to do it here at Imola on the Ducati. I really wanted it and, after Ben took it from me by a thousandth of a second back at Kyalami, this time I just took it from him. I was quite surprised because I thought they’d cut my time but then I saw the screen and saw my name in first place! Tomorrow will nevertheless be very tough because Ben and Johnny obviously have a good race pace and so I’m expecting some close racing between the guys on the front row.”
Noriyuki Haga 1m47.8s
“We’ve gone well today and there are just a couple of small problems, suspension-wise, but we know the direction to take so it should all be fixed before the races. I just feel that I missed out by not participating in the tests but, anyway, a place on the front row is very positive and I feel I did a good job today. I’m going to get my shoulder looked at this evening so that I’m in a position to give 200% tomorrow.”