Front row starts for Hodgson and Xaus (Ducati Fila) in Superbike finale at Magny-Cours. Magny-Cours (France), 18 October 2003: Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus both improved on their Friday qualifying times to end up with front-row...
Front row starts for Hodgson and Xaus (Ducati Fila) in Superbike finale at Magny-Cours.
Magny-Cours (France), 18 October 2003: Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus both improved on their Friday qualifying times to end up with front-row grid positions for tomorrow's final round of the 2003 World Superbike championship at Magny-Cours. Ducati Fila's confirmed 2004 riders James Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) and Regis Laconi (Ducati NCR) will join them on the front row, with youngster Toseland setting his first-ever pole position.
After qualifying ninth yesterday, the new world champion asserted his authority in Superpole with a confident run to second place behind Toseland. "We put the bike back to how I normally have it after changing it too much yesterday and I felt much happier today" declared Neil.
"For Superpole I had to use my spare bike because when I came in after the warm-up, my race bike had an alternator problem. No excuses, but that bike didn't just feel the same over one lap and it stopped me from pushing that little bit harder. It's just a shame that we are racing in France this time of year because although the circuit is fantastic and we all love racing here, there have been too many crashes because of the cold conditions" he added.
Team-mate Xaus felt much happier today on the second Ducati 999 and powered to the fastest time in the morning's second and final session before gaining the final front row slot with fourth place in Superpole.
"I'm happy because I'm on the front row for the races tomorrow after taking such a long time to get the bike set-up to my liking the last two days" declared Ruben. "In Superpole I had to wait until I was last out and it was probably just that little bit colder for me to get some more heat in the tyres for my quick lap. The track is difficult because of the weather conditions but it's really nice to race here. I'll give everything tomorrow because it's the last race of the year in Superbikes and it's sure to be a tough battle at the front against the other three guys".
STARTING-GRID: 1. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'40.965; 2. Hodgson (Ducati Fila) 1'40.976; 3. Laconi (NCR Ducati) 1'41.196; 4. Xaus (Ducati Fila) 1'41.558; 5. Chili (PSG-1 Ducati) 1'41.634; 6. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) 1'41.638; 7. Lavilla (Suzuki) 1'41.964; 8. Gimbert (Suzuki) 1'42.060; 9. Martin (Ducati DFX) 1'42.108; 10. Haslam (Renegade Ducati) 1'42.528.
TV COVERAGE : Eurosport (Europe) - Sunday 19 October, 1200 Race 1 (live), 1830 Race 2 (delayed). Eurosport News - Sunday 19 October, 1200 Race 1 (live), 1530 Race 2 (live). RAI (Italy) - Monday 20 October, 0135 Race 1 & 2 (highlights).