Hodgson (Team Ducati Fila) takes opening Superpole at Valencia.
Valencia (Spain), Saturday 1 March - Neil Hodgson (Team Ducati Fila) powered the brand-new Ducati 999 to its debut pole position on his first appearance for the factory team, during today's qualifying sessions for the opening World Superbike round at Valencia, Spain.
Hodgson's time of 1'34.863 around the 4.005 km Ricardo Tormo circuit earned him the eleventh Superbike pole position of his career and the 29-year-old British rider will line up on the grid for tomorrow's two races with James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) alongside in second place. The front row was completed by Ducati Fila team-mate Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas).
"So far so good" declared Neil after Superpole, "but I'm not getting carried away because tomorrow is the big day. I've got the best ever race set-up I' ve ever had here and I've been racing for about thirteen years so I know I' ve got a great feeling with the bike. I seem to have overcome my notorious hatred for this circuit now that I'm on pole, and I actually quite enjoy riding around the place! I've got the track dialed, I know all the points, it doesn't seem like an effort at all to go quick around here. Testing and practice has gone really well so far and I've fitted into the team. I had decided I was going to have to deal with everything one round at a time, but I've changed my tactics and it's one session at a time now! So all that I'm thinking about is the morning warm-up and then the races tomorrow."
"I feel a lot more comfortable on this track this year with the new Ducati 999" commented Ruben. "My Superpole lap time was not so bad but there was a lot of wind everywhere and it pushes you to one side a bit. For me it's important to win the championship this year, not just do well in Superpole. The season is long and I can't wait to get started tomorrow. Everything is new this year, a new bike, a new sponsor and a new team-mate. For sure there 's pressure at my home circuit, especially with Neil going well. The front of the bike is not working as well as last weekend and that changes my style of riding a bit, but I'm looking forward to racing tomorrow because I'm happy with my set-up on my race tyres."
STARTING-GRID: 1. Hodgson (Ducati Fila) 1'34.863; 2. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.429; 3. Xaus (Ducati Fila) 1'35.827; 4. Corser (Foggy Petronas) 1'35.831; 5. Laconi (Ducati NCR) 1'35.853; 6. Martin (Ducati DFX) 1'35.927; 7. Chili (Ducati PSG-1) 1'36.114; 8. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) 1'36.145; 9. Pedercini (Ducati) 1'36.473; 10. Borja (Ducati DFX) 1'36.974.
TV COVERAGE: Eurosport (Pan-European) - Sunday 2 March 1200-1300 Race 1 (live), 1530-1630 Race 2 (live).RaiDue (Italy) - Monday 3 March 0055-0215 (highlights).