Imola (Italy), 26 September: Ruben Xaus and Neil Hodgson powered their Ducati Fila 999 machines to a provisional third and fourth place on the grid in Friday first qualifying for the Imola World Superbike round.
James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) and Regis Laconi (NCR Ducati) were the quickest today as only these four riders dipped beneath the 1m50s mark.
"It's a bit of a bumpy track, compared to Assen, which is really smooth and today was quite a struggle but in the end I actually enjoyed it for the first time because I relaxed a bit" declared the new world champion. "You've got to be loose on the bike with all the bumps. My Ducati Fila 999 was a bit dodgy through the fastest part of the track but we changed it a bit to make it more stable. I'm having some good slides because it spins a lot on the track. If you can control that in the race, you know that when your tyres go off you will have a good feeling. I'm sure I can make up a tenth here and there all over the circuit and knock a lot more off my time tomorrow".
"I wasn't happy this morning because I had a technical problem and I had to come in and change to my other bike, which didn't have an ideal set-up" declared Ruben. "This is a track that you really need to get used to and as it is only Friday running in 1m49s for me is good. We were really close with times for qualifying and race tyres. Every time we come here to Imola it's different because I have a different bike and team so winning here in the past doesn't count. For me the races are the only important thing and I want to come away with two victories or at least two good results. It's important that the people enjoy and that Ducati enjoy what I do on Sunday".
1. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'49.011; 2. Laconi (NCR Ducati) 1'49.472; 3. Xaus (Ducati Fila) 1'49.505; 4. Hodgson (Ducati Fila) 1'49.538; 5. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) 1'50.145; 6. Lavilla (Suzuki) 1'50.570; 7. Corser (Petronas) 1'50.752; 8. Chili (PSG-1 Ducati) 1'50.859; 9. Martin (Ducati DFX) 1'50.892; 10. Pedercini (Ducati) 1'51.206.
TV COVERAGE : Eurosport - Sunday 28 September: 1200 Race 1 (live), 0130 Race 2 (highlights). EurosportNews - 1200 Race 1 (live), 1530 Race 2 (live). RAI - Saturday 27 September: 1700 Superpole (highlights); Sunday 28 September: 0125 Race 1 & Race 2 (highlights).