Laguna Seca: Ten Kate Honda first qualifying notes

New Boys Make Great Showing in USA In a season of firsts and new experiences for the Ten Kate Honda team the latest baptism of fire was dealt with in some style by Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) and his Netherlands-based team, each...

New Boys Make Great Showing in USA

In a season of firsts and new experiences for the Ten Kate Honda team the latest baptism of fire was dealt with in some style by Chris Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) and his Netherlands-based team, each vastly experienced in Supersport but new to Superbike.

The challenge of the 3.610km Laguna circuit is one which regular SBK riders approach with some trepidation, especially the awe-inspiring Corkscrew chicane, a sheer drop down a left and right chicane at the highest part of the circuit. For the Ten Kate team and rider, the challenge has been risen to with great success so far, as Vermeulen qualified fourth overall in the first timed session of the weekend. His time of 1:27.625 was an outstanding achievement, only 0.229 seconds behind the provisional pole position rider, Steve Martin (Ducati).

One more hour-long session remains to decide the final line up of the pre-Superpole grid, with the top 16 regular qualifiers going forward to the single lap competition of Superpole. Vermeulen stated, "I had to spend some parts of today just learning my way around. At one time Haga was behind me for quite a while so I pulled over to let him pass. I'm the one who needs to learn something from him here, not him learn something from me! My aim was to be in the top eight in the first day so to be top four is better than we expected. I'm sure we can find some more tomorrow as well."

Team Manager Ronald Ten Kate showed true admiration for his team and rider's work. "Even in the European races, at circuits we have some experience of, we sometimes make a slow start. It was like that here in the beginning as we looked for a good set-up and then Chris learned his way around this very peculiar track. It is a very special track and we had no data for it, and a corner like the Corkscrew is a thing all its own. We have been very busy getting a good set-up and Chris did a great job by having a clever mind when it counted, setting a really good lap. He is already rookie of the year but he may well be showing that he's more than that."

World Superbike Championship Round Seven - Laguna Seca, USA 9 - 11 July 2004 First Qualifying Session 1. S. Martin, AUS, Ducati 999 RS, 1'27.396 2. P. Chili, ITA, Ducati 998 RS, 1'27.415 3. R. Laconi, FRA, Ducati 999 F04, 1'27.593 4. C. Vermeulen, AUS, Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR, 1'27.625 5. N. Haga, JPN, Ducati 999 RS, 1'27.729 6. J. Toseland, GBR, Ducati 999 F04, 1'27.787 7. T. Corser, AUS, Petronas FP1, 27.903 8. M. Borciani, ITA, Ducati 999 RS, 1'27.908 9. L. Pedercini, ITA, Ducati 998 RS, 1'28.016 10. M. Sanchini, Kawasaki ZX 10, 1'28.269

-tkh-

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Series World Superbike
Drivers Steve Martin , Chris Vermeulen