Yamaha World Superbike (soon to be MotoGP) rider Ben Spies put himself in good stead for tomorrow’s penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours, France, by qualifying on pole position during Saturday’s Superpole qualifying sessions. Bolting on one of his two soft “Q” tires near the end of the final session, Spies scorched the circuit with a 1:37.709 lap, a new course lap record. The Texan was also the only rider to lap under the 1:38 range, with Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea trailing over 0.4 seconds behind, just 0.005 seconds ahead of Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio. Aprilia’s Max Biaggi knocked championship leader Nori Haga off the front row on his final lap, leaving the Ducati rider hoping for a good start tomorrow.
"It was a good lap,” said Spies. “Four-tenths ahead of the other guys, but we've been mainly working more on race tires and fuel loads all weekend and trying to make the bike come good on Sunday and this was the first time we've really put in a really fast one. It's going to be a good race, the same four guys as last time, and Biaggi's very close, but I'm confident with the bike, unlike last week at Imola. It's good Johnny's up there again. I might buy him some dinner tonight to get him to help me out!"
"We're in a good position anyway this weekend with race pace,” said Rea, “and I'm really happy, the team is working well and the bike's working excellent. It seems to be the same culprits up at the front again. We've been working on our starts all over the weekend, so we hope to get a good one. It's our test circuit here but nothing is really relevant because the pace is so much faster than last year and this one is all about who hangs in there at the end.
Fabrizio, on the other hand, wasn’t so enthused. "I'm not very happy, this qualifying was very hard for me, my number one Ducati, which I was very happy with, broke down and the number two had a few problems and we had to change everything in a hurry and I wasn't really able to challenge in Superpole but a front row is OK anyway. Tomorrow for sure I will try for the win, if not I should have stayed stay at home, but then we'll see how things go during the race."
Meanwhile, Biaggi was pleased with the Aprilia’s progress over the weekend. "It was a good performance and we are quite happy with the result. We have made a nice improvement from yesterday and today was a real improvement with the pace. The Aprilia is working better than before so now we are almost set up where we should be and tomorrow we are in the race for the win."
Superpole qualifying results:
- 1. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:37.709
- 2. Jonathan Rea (IRL) Honda 1:38.191
- 3. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1:38.196
- 4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1:38.235
- 5. Nori Haga (JPN) Ducati 1:38.365
- 6. Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda 1:38.625
- 7. Fonsi Nieto (SPA) Ducati 1:38.670
- 8. Troy Corser (AUS) BMW 1:39.114
- 9. Shane Byrne (GBR) Ducati 1:38.831
- 10. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati 1:38.844