Imola: Yamaha Racing Friday report

Pitt leads the Yamaha charge in Imola Yamaha Motor Italia's Andrew Pitt was the top R1 rider in today's first qualifying session for Sunday's penultimate round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship in Imola, ending the day seventh fastest in...

Pitt leads the Yamaha charge in Imola

Yamaha Motor Italia's Andrew Pitt was the top R1 rider in today's first qualifying session for Sunday's penultimate round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship in Imola, ending the day seventh fastest in a close session that sees the top 14 riders covered by just over a second.

The Australian gunned his Yamaha around the long and demanding circuit in best time of 1:50.502, just 0.463 behind the day's fastest rider James Toseland (Honda). Pitt, who lifted the 2001 world supersport crown at the Italian venue, went through the usual Friday programme of testing tyres and settings ahead of Sunday's two races, working mostly with his crew chief Dave Marton and datalogging expert Carlo Luzzi to find the optimal gearbox settings for the complex Formula One circuit.

Pitt's team-mate Noriyuki Haga struggled with a wrist injury sustained in Germany three weekends ago, ending the day in 11th. The Japanese star damaged some ligaments in both his wrists and found the going tough around the bumpy circuit after failing to get the R1 set up exactly to his liking. Despite his handicap, Haga is confident that he can make some improvements to the set-up of his machine ahead of tomorrow's final qualifying sessions.

Fastest rider today was 2004 world champion Toseland, ahead of outgoing champion Troy Corser (Suzuki). Current series leader Troy Bayliss ended the day fourth, with Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) rounding out the top four. The superbike riders will have a final one hour qualifying session tomorrow morning, with the top 16 riders going through to the one-lap superpole session, which will decide the first four rows of the grid for Sunday's two 21-lap races.

Norick Abe led Yamaha Motor France's trio of riders in Imola. The Japanese former Grand Prix rider ended the day in 16th position, provisionally occupying the final slot for tomorrow's grid-deciding superpole session. Sebastien Gimbert ended the day 21st, just two seconds from pole sitter Toseland, with Shinichi Nakatomi less than a tenth of a second behind his French team-mate on his Imola debut, in 24th.

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)

"The main thing we've been working on is finding a good gearbox setting. This place is such a compromise that when you get the gearing right for one corner it's out at the next. We had a couple of little niggling problems with the electronics but overall it's been a good day. We were able to try out a lot of different tyres and we're pretty sure what we'll be running on Sunday. Our race pace seems good and the guys ahead of us are only doing one faster lap before dropping back to the same pace, so I think we'll be right up there."

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)

"We're still trying to find the right balance of the bike and tonight we'll make some changes to improve the feeling. Imola is a very physical circuit and my wrist is still quite painful, but I do not think this will be a problem because when the lights go out you forget about any problems you have."

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)

"Not such a bad day! The bike is working ok and close to the top riders, so this is an alright result for us. I hope that tomorrow we can stay in the top 16 and qualify for the superpole. That would prepare us for a good race."

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)

"This is my first time at Imola so today my priority is to learn the course and improve the set-up. Tonight we will try some things and I am quite confident that I can get faster as the weekend goes on."

Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia)

"The times are very close today and we can still make some improvements.Andrew had a few small problems with the electronics today, while Noriyuki is still trying to find a different balance on his bike. We will make some changes tonight and see what tomorrow brings."

-credit: yamaha racing

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Andrew Pitt , Noriyuki Haga , James Toseland , Troy Corser , Yukio Kagayama , Sébastien Gimbert , Shinichi Nakatomi , Abe Norick