Both Ten Kate Honda CBR600RRs will start from the front row for tomorrow's first World Supersport race of the season.
Conditions for today's qualifying stopped almost all the Supersport riders from bettering their qualifying times set on Friday. High winds and problems finding grip from the notoriously slippery surface at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain made it a difficult session for the riders.
Chris Vermeulen, who qualified in second said: "The winds are so strong we're getting some pretty impressive speeds down the main straight, but it's also lifting the front tyre in mid-turn!" Although he lapped at seven thousandths of a second slower than his Friday time, Chris was the fastest rider on the circuit during today's session, boding well for tomorrow's race. "Despite the wind I felt good and the Pirelli tyres were working really well. I reckon we've got a good race set up."
His team mate and fellow Australian, Karl Muggeridge, took third on the grid on the strength of his Friday time. "Conditions were bad, a mixture of high winds and rubbish left on the track by the previous sidecar qualifying," said Muggeridge. "But I am confident with our race setup, the CBR600RR is brilliant and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."
With two bikes on the front row at the first race of the season, team manager Ronald ten Kate couldn't fail to be happy, "It's very important to get good grid position in Supersport racing so I am extremely pleased to see both my riders on the front row," he said. "The wind made it difficult for everyone today and so it is all the more impressive that Chris was able to almost equal his Friday time. The Pirelli tyres worked well and we seem to have a good race set up. Of course I am confident for the race, but it will be the usual close fighting that typifies Supersport racing and almost anything can happen!"
WP Suspension technician Andre Stamsnijder had difficult choices to make when setting up the Hondas for the windy conditions, "It's all a bit of a compromise in this situation," he said. "If you make changes to help the bike in one corner, you will probably have gone the wrong way for another."
The World Supersport race starts at 13.20hrs local time on Sunday.
World Supersport Championship
Valencia, 28 February to 2 March, 2003
Combined Qualifying, best times and final grid position:
1. K. Fujiwara, JPN, Suzuki, 1'37.687
2. C Vermeulen, AUS, Ten Kate Honda, 1'37.839
3. K Muggeridge, AUS, Ten Kate Honda, 1'37.927
4. R Ulm, AUT, Honda, 1'37.940
5. J Teuchert, GER, Yamaha, 1'38.101
6. C Kellner, GER, Yamaha, 1'38.128
7. G. Nannelli, ITA, Yamaha, 1'38.282
8. P Riba, ESP, Kawasaki, 1'38.355
9. J VD Goorbergh, NED, 1'38.382
10. F Foret, FRA, Kawasaki, 1'38.401