Corser, the last man out, blamed himself for being a little too conservative at the start of his flying lap, but was satisfied to have secured fourth slot and a front row staring position for tomorrow’s two Superbike races. But the surprises came from a veteran and a rookie. Australian Steve Martin, second, less than a tenth of a second off Kagayama’s tome, first attracted international attention when he won the Australian Superbike Championship on a Gibson Freight Ducati. He battled for seven long years on privateer machines and finally, at the age of 36, has finally secured a factory Petronas ride, and is making the most of it. The 900cc three-cylinder Petronas is generally considered to be down on power compared to the factory Ducati twins and the best of the 1000cc Japanese fours, but Martin and team mate Garry McCoy (seventh) have both impressed at the swooping and flowing Australian track.
Third on the grid is SBK rookie Max Neukirchner (21) of Germany on his Klaffi Honda CBR1000RR. Neukirchner was rookie of the year in World Supersport last year.
The next four riders, from fourth to seventh, are all Australian: Corser, Pitt (Yamaha Italy), Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda) and McCoy.
The best of the two works Xerox Ducati 999F05s, that of Frenchman Regis Laconi, will start on the far end of the second row. As in Qatar where Laconi was second and third, the Ducati twin is the fastest machine at the end of the straight, thanks to the twin’s reduced frontal area and slick aerodynamics, but it seems to lose out on acceleration off the slower corners.
Chris Vermeulen dug himself a bit of a hole by taking only ninth best time on his Ten Kate Honda and will start off the third row in both races tomorrow, just in front of tenth-place qualifier and reigning World Champion James Toseland. Toseland was down in 15th at the end of Friday’s qualifying and is working hard, after a poor start in Qatar where he also suffered a big pre-season crash, to fight his way back into contention.
Best of the Yamaha riders was former World Supersport Champion Pitt, who had a spectacular crash on Saturday, but shook it off. Pier-Francesco Chili was not so fortunate. The popular veteran suffered a broken collarbone when he crashed his Klaffi Honda. He just missed the Superpole cut, qualifying 17th, and will also miss the starts tomorrow.
Some established stars are finding it difficult to run near the front in SBK so far this season. Norick Abe was 12th, but Noriyuki Haga missed the Superpole and will start 18th (moving up from 19th due to Chili´s absence). Spain´s Fonsi Nieto will was 22nd, just in front of American Ben Bostrom, 23rd in the 29 rider field.
1. Kagayama Yukio Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra Suzuki GSXR1000 K5 1’33.241
2. Martin Steve Foggy Petronas Racing Petronas FP1 1'33.301
3. Neukirchner Max Klaffi Honda Honda CBR 1000RR 1’33.375
4. Corser Troy Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra Suzuki GSXR1000 K5 22 1'33.398
5. Pitt Andrew Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Yamaha YZF R1 1’33.461
6. Muggeridge Karl Winston Ten Kate Honda Honda CBR 1000RR 1'33.557
7. McCoy Garry Foggy Petronas Racing Petronas FP1 1'33.676
8 Laconi Régis Ducati Xerox Ducati 999F05 1'33.837
9. Vermeulen Chris Winston Ten Kate Honda Honda CBR 1000RR 1'34.035
10.Toseland James Ducati Xerox Ducati 999F05 1'34.068
11. Bussei Giovanni Kawasaki Bertocchi Kawasaki ZX10 1'34.503
12 Abe Norick Yamaha Motor France-Ipone Yamaha YZF R1 1'34.742
13. Walker Chris PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse Kawasaki ZX10 1'34.803
14.Vizziello Gianluca Italia Lorenzini by Leoni Yamaha YZF R1 1’34.939
15. Cardoso Josè Luis D.F.X. Treme Yamaha YZF R1 1'35.003
16 Sanchini Mauro PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse Kawasaki ZX10 1'35.152
REMAINING RIDERS NOT TAKING PART IN SUPERPOLE
17 Chili Pierfrancesco Klaffi Honda Honda CBR 1000RR 1'34.775 *
18 Clementi Ivan Kawasaki Bertocchi Kawasaki ZX10 1'35.478
19 Haga Noriyuki Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Yamaha YZF R1 1'34.927
20. Alfonsi Lorenzo D.F.X. Treme Yamaha YZF R1 1’35.136
21 Gimbert Sebastien Yamaha Motor France-Ipone Yamaha YZF R1 1'35.178
22. Nieto Fonsi Ducati SC Caracchi Ducati 999RS 1’35.400
23 Bostrom Ben Renegade Koji Honda CBR 1000RR 1'35.524
24. Corradi Alessio Team Pedercini Ducati 999RS 1'37.561
25. Pedercini Lucio Team Pedercini Ducati 999RS 1'35.565
26 Borciani Marco DFXtreme Sterilgarda Yamaha YZF R1 1'35.685
27. Lanzi Lorenzo Ducati SC Caracchi Ducati 999RS 1'35.976
28. Stroud Andrew Superbike New Zealand Suzuki GSXR1000 K4 1'36.292
29. Praia Miguel DFXtreme Sterilgarda Yamaha YZF R1 1'36.843
* Chili withdrawn with broken collarbone. All riders from 18th back move up one position.