Vermeulen Narrowly Misses Superpole Win
Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) looked to have clinched his first Superpole after setting an impressive time of 1'41.845, but a superb final split for the last rider away, Troy Corser (Petronas) secured him his 30th career pole position in Superbike.
Chris nonetheless has an important front row start, in what is destined to be the championship decider. The two races on Sunday will determine which of the three top riders in contention, Chris, plus Ducati factory riders James Toseland and Regis Laconi will be champion, with all three separated by only 14 points at present. Significantly, Laconi could not join Toseland and Vermeulen on the front row after the pressurised Superpole competition.
Four different manufacturers were represented on the front row of the grid, with the Honda, Petronas and Ducati riders joined by the private wild card Yamaha of Sebastien Gimbert.
Vermeulen, returning to the pit box with a seemingly unassailable time to his credit, was surprised to see Corser overtake his position at the head of the time sheets. "I came into my pitbox and looked up at the screen, leading by 0.2 seconds or so. Then I looked down, looked back up again and Troy was pole! I was like, 'what did he do there?' Congratulations to Troy and it's nice to see so many different manufacturers in the front row. We struggled here yesterday and we got faster and faster. It will be close races and we just have to get into the first group and then be first across the line. But I will be giving it my best shot for sure."
Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate was happy with the improvements the team had wrought in the CBR1000RR since the first qualifying session. "I think the line that Troy took into the last corner before the chicane was the difference. All the other boys are taking it tighter but Troy really took it wide and then threw it in. He was good, and maybe his bike allows such a line. We are not disappointed to not score a pole this year, and after yesterday I can only be satisfied with the result we had today. We are back on track. I think we've got the bike dialled in for the race, Chris is getting more and more in his rhythm, and his body is letting him move around more. A lot of people yesterday must have thought we were dow n and out but here we are on the front row. I think Tory rode very well, congratulations to him on 30 pole positions. It shown how great a rider he is. I hope he can help us by putting himself between us and the opposition."
Parkes Takes Pole with Muggeridge on Front Row
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) did what he had threatened to do on many previous occasions and took pole position in World Supersport, his time of 1'43.825s being set in the final session of the pre race qualifying sessions. Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) secured a front row start with a time of 1'43.953s, despite being under the pole time on various first and second split times.
The front row for Sunday's race was an all Honda affair, with Michel Fabrizio and Sebastien Charpentier going second and third respectively. The first non-Honda proved to be the Yamaha of Kevin Curtain, in fifth.
Parkes, delighted with his first pole for the Ten Kate team, stated, "I've come close a few times this year but I don't know what made the difference this time. It wasn't exactly the kind of lap that you would expect to have pole from, because I got held up a bit in traffic, especially in the second corner. I thought I had lost too much time, because that's about the fastest corner here. We were in good shape after Imola and we didn't make too many changes here. The bike works pretty well round Magny Cours."
Muggeridge was incensed at the action of some of his fellow riders, feeling that he lost a clean shot at pole on two separate occasions. "I was trying to have a go to make pole but I got held up with traffic. There is just continuous traffic out there and I don't know what some of them are thinking about. We have tried hard to get the bike working with a race set-up and we still need to get it working a little better for the race."
Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate said, "We worked out all the issues we had on day one, about how the bike is riding the bumps and so on and we have selected race tyres. Or should I say we have two tyres to choose from, and we will decide after warm up. The boys are well up to speed. That was an excellent pole from Broc and he worked hard all weekend with his bike and crew. Karl could have maybe got pole a couple of times as well, but he got held up by other riders."