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Spies takes pole amid confusion

Posted on: Saturday, Feb 28 2009

In his debut season, Yamaha rider Ben Spies snatched pole position for tomorrow's two 22-lap races with a blistering lap.

The Texan clocked one minute, 31.069 seconds in the new superpole "shootout" format, with Italian Max Biaggi (Aprilia), Ireland's Johnny Rea (Honda) and the Czech Republic's Jakub Smrz (Ducati) making it onto the front row.

Spies's time was 0.424 seconds faster than the previous record set by Australian and three-time world champion Troy Bayliss last year.

"I think I just put a little more pressure on myself," Spies said. "I've got to thank the [Motor Italia] Yamaha team, the bike is just getting better and better every time out. It's working good and I'm very happy, but it's a small step and the race is going to be very difficult.

"There's a lot of fast guys and we'll see how we fare."

Troy Corser was fifth fastest in qualifying today on his new BMW S1000RR, but the Australian crowd favourite was bitterly disappointed to be among four riders eliminated in the first superpole period.

Four of the fastest 20 riders from qualifying drop out after the first 12-minute superpole session, followed by eight more in the second. The remaining eight riders contest the four front-row positions.

Corser finished 17th in the opening superpole session in 1:32.873.

As a result he starts on the fifth row of the grid tomorrow, unfamiliar territory for the 37-year-old, who has seven wins here from four poles.

The last time Corser started anywhere near the middle of the grid was 2004, when he qualified 16th at Magny Cours, France, on a wrongly inflated tyre.

"The new superpole system seems a bit confusing really," Corser said yesterday. "It's not 'go out, do one fast lap' and that's where you end up, you have to do it three or four times.

"You look at who got knocked out and probably half the guys that are in contention for the championship aren't even on the front two rows."

Just ahead of Corser on the fourth row is compatriot Broc Parkes on a Kawasaki ZX-10R, making his return to WSBK after six years in Supersport.

In the Supersport class, Kenan Sofuoglu edged past Honda teammate Andrew Pitt's lap record from last year to snatch front spot on tomorrow's grid.

Sofuoglu, who returns to Supersport after a year in WSBK, claimed pole with a 1:34.320 lap, just 0.369 seconds ahead of second spot.

After claiming provisional pole on Friday, Pitt was third quickest in qualifying today behind Spaniard Joan Lascorz on a factory-backed Kawasaki.

Pitt, the defending world champion, plans to donate his winnings to the Victorian bushfire appeal if he goes back-to-back in front of his home crowd.

Cal Crutchlow, from Great Britain, completes the front row.

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