Imola (Italy), Friday 29th September: Troy Bayliss got the crucial Imola weekend underway with third place in Friday first qualifying for the Ducati Xerox Team. The championship leader was just two-tenths of a second off the pace of provisional poleman James Toseland (Honda) as the Superbike riders lapped the slightly modified circuit for the first time.

"It hasn't been a bad day" declared Troy. "I haven't been here for a while, since 2002 and it's nice to get back into the swing of things. The only thing I noticed is that the track seems to be getting rougher and rougher, also we have the new chicane which is definitely a downer, it's far too tight and dangerous. Someone could easily go through and T-bone somebody else. But overall I'm feeling good on the bike, we've got a couple more things to try tomorrow and I'm sure we'll improve a bit".

Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi was thirteenth quickest, but not that far behind the leaders as the top thirteen all posted times within one second of the pole in the opening qualifying session.

"That was a tough qualifying session, we're all there together" commented Lorenzo. "As has happened on other occasions, almost everyone set their time by following the others, we'll see what the real position is tomorrow when we do the one lap in Superpole. I am quite happy, I was beginning to enjoy myself out there but in the last ten minutes I went out to set a quick time and my bike had a mechanical problem. I came in as quick as possible to change bikes but it didn't feel quite as right as the other one so I had to settle for that time. Despite everything I felt I was lapping well and this makes me hopeful for tomorrow".

-credit: ducati