Team Suzuki Alstare rider Fonsi Nieto finally laid his Superpole demons to rest by setting the second quickest lap in the 16-rider Superpole shoot-out at the World Superbike Championship round at Magny-Cours yesterday.
He had been fourth in regular qualifying, but stormed round the 4.411 kilometre circuit in 1:38.574 - a time bettered by just one tenth of a second by Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha).
Max Neukirchner had a big 'moment' on his Superpole lap but recovered to finish with the sixth fastest lap and Yukio Kagayama was another to give the spectators and TV fans a heart-stopping moment, but he too managed to stay on the bike and complete his lap. Unfortunately he lost the best of half a second in the process and now faces a hard day tomorrow from 15th place on the grid.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) took Superpole - his first of the season - with a lap of 1:38.444. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) is third and Carlos Checa (Honda) fourth.
Fonsi Nieto - 2nd, 1:38.574:
"Superpole is not normally my best thing so I am really happy to finish second in it today. Now I am going to be in a good position to challenge for the podium right from the start. We tried quite a few different set-ups and tyres today as we also did a race distance and I think we have a good set-up on one of the bikes. We also did some work on the gearing and the mapping and now I am looking forward to the races tomorrow. I like this track and I feel confident that I will have a good day tomorrow."
Max Neukirchner - 6th, 1:39.480:
"In the afternoon untimed practice I had a little crash but I don't know why. Nothing was different from the laps before but exiting the Esses I lost the front and crashed. Fortunately there was no problem for me, but it gave my mechanics a lot of extra work! I made a small mistake in Superpole when I had a big slide and lost between five and seven-tenths of a second so my grid place is not so good. But I think we have a good set-up for the race and as long as I get good starts I will be able to fight for the podium. This morning the track was never completely dry so we have not had much dry time here. But it is the same for everybody - except the ones who tested here recently - and I will just have to put my head down and go for it."
Yukio Kagayama - 15th, 1:40.631:
"My position is not so good after Superpole but that is because I had a very big slide exiting the hairpin. I almost crashed but I stayed on somehow. I lost a lot of time and as I tried to recover I probably pushed too hard and lost my rhythm. I need two good starts tomorrow if I am to have any chance. But I want to get some good results and I will push very hard in the races tomorrow for sure."
Final WSB Qualifying: 1 Haga (J-Yamaha) 1:38.44, 2 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 1:38.574, 3 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:38.666, 4 C Checa (E-Honda) 1:38.765, 5 Rolfo (I-Honda) 1:39.349, 6 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 1:39.480, 7 D Checa (E-Yamaha) 1:39.514, 8 Biaggi (I-Ducati) 1:39.606, 9 Fabrizio (I-Ducati) 1:39.627, 10 Lanzi (I-Ducati) 1:39.957. 15 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 1:40.631.
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon had his first proper dry practice of the weekend so far and ended qualifying for the ninth round of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup at Magny-Cours in third place.
Matej Smrz (Honda) took pole position with a lap of 1:41.994 with Freddy Foray (Suzuki) second. Completing the front row alongside Simeon is Claudio Corti (Yamaha).
Xavi Simeon - 3rd, 1:43.187:
"I am not happy because I did not go as fast as I wanted, but it's OK because I am on the front row of the grid. Today was the first time we've had a dry track and we found that although the bike is working well, the rear tyre is not! I had some problems with rear grip so I couldn't push any harder. My bike has a good set-up, is good in the corners and the only problem is rear grip. But I know that my race pace is good, so I think I can do well tomorrow. This is a technical track and although it is not hard to learn, it is a track where it is hard to cut those last fractions of a second. In the warm-up tomorrow we will try a different set-up - to see if we can get more grip from the rear - and hopefully we will find a little improvement. At the moment it would be better for me if it was a wet race, but if it is dry I will going be charging as hard as usual and going for a win."
Final Superstock Qualifying: 1 Smrz (CZ-Honda) 1:41.994, 2 Foray (F-Suzuki) 1:42.892, 3 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 1:43.187, 4 Corti (I-Yamaha) 1:43.286, 5 Roberts (Aus-Ducati) 1:43.464, 6 Millet (F-Yamaha) 1:43.476.ersion to see message previews in your inbox. (It's free, too.)