Valencia: Ducati Friday qualifying notes

The new Ducati 999 quick at Valencia. Hodgson and Xaus (Team Ducati Fila) first and third in Friday qualifying. Valencia (Spain), Friday 28 February 2003 - Team Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus set first and third quickest times in...

The new Ducati 999 quick at Valencia.
Hodgson and Xaus (Team Ducati Fila) first and third in Friday qualifying.

Valencia (Spain), Friday 28 February 2003 - Team Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus set first and third quickest times in Friday qualifying for the opening round of the 2003 World Superbike Championship at Valencia, Spain. Hodgson set provisional pole with a time of 1'34.932, followed by another British rider Chris Walker (HM Plant Ducati) and Ducati Fila team-mate Ruben Xaus, on 1'35.416.

Three days of testing last week, in more wintry conditions, plus two practice sessions today enabled 29 year-old Hodgson to find a good set-up on his Ducati 999, which is making its track debut in the colours of new sponsor Fila. Hodgson also recorded his best time on lap 25 of a race simulation, a clear sign that the new Michelin tyres are providing excellent results.

"I did race distance this afternoon on the 999, which was quite hard after such a long time off the bike. I had planned to do one anyway for that reason but I felt a bit stiff after" declared Neil. "The bike feels good both at the front and the rear, but the temperatures were much warmer than last week and it was windier so that's why I found it physically more challenging. Handling is spot on all the way round the track, I'm changing nothing from the settings. Everything feels really smooth, top speed is very good, things couldn't be better!"

A problem with the steering camper during the morning session slowed team-mate Xaus's progress, but once it was resolved in the afternoon the 25-year-old from Barcelona began to lap on the pace, and he ended the day third quickest behind Walker.

"I couldn't really ride the bike this morning, it felt strange at the front" declared Ruben. "It was a steering damper problem that we resolved in the afternoon and I soon got back down into the 1m35s mark again. That's important because I did everything with a race tyre. I've got a good set-up at the rear, the front I still need to work a bit more with, but lap times are not so far from the first guys and I hope I can knock another half-a-second off my best time tomorrow."

TIMES:
1. Hodgson (Ducati Fila) 1'34.932
2. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.347
3. Xaus (Ducati Fila) 1'35.416
4. Chili (PSG-1 Ducati) 1'35.687
5. Martin (DFX Ducati) 1'35.827
6. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.839
7. Corser (Foggy Petronas) 1'35.908
8. Borciani (DFX Ducati) 1'36.305
9. Laconi (Ducati NCR) 1'36.365
10. Pedercini (Ducati) 1'36.499

IN TV:
Eurosport (Pan-European) - Sunday 2 March 1200-1300 Race 1 (live), 1530-1630 Race 2 (live).RaiDue (Italy) - Monday 3 March 0055-0215 (highlights).

-tdf-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Ruben Xaus , Chris Walker