Magny-Cours: Yamaha Racing Saturday report

Fifth and ninth for Haga and Pitt Yamaha Motor Italia riders Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt will start tomorrow's final round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship from fifth and ninth places respectively. Both men made small mistakes on...

Fifth and ninth for Haga and Pitt

Yamaha Motor Italia riders Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt will start tomorrow's final round of the 2006 Superbike World Championship from fifth and ninth places respectively.

Both men made small mistakes on their superpole lap to slip down the order from their positions in regular qualifying and, despite not qualifying as well as hoped, the Yamaha Motor Italia riders are primed for action in tomorrow's 22-lap showdown.

A damp circuit, caused by overnight rain, meant that superpole positions were decided by Friday's times. Only a few riders ventured out onto the circuit during the session, with the best time some six seconds from the ultimate dry weather performance.

After ending yesterday fourth on the timesheets, Pitt was the fourth to last rider to take to his superpole lap. Despite clocking his best lap time of the weekend, a 1:40.090, the Australian rider was unable to make as big an improvement as many of his rivals on the soft qualifying rubber. His time saw him take the ninth slot on the grid for tomorrow's races, on the outside of the third row.

Haga was last to depart for his superpole lap after holding the provisional pole position but made a small mistake on the opening part of the lap. An improved performance in the latter part of the lap saw Haga post a lap time of 1:39.914, to end the superpole session directly in front of Pitt, in fifth.

Rain has meant that set-up time has been at a premium at Magny Cours this weekend, although Haga and Toseland gave fans a sneek preview of tomorrow's action in the afternoon practice session, when they spent 10 laps trading positions and never separated by a few bike lengths. The speedy R1 has proved rapid around the French circuit, with Yamaha riders recording the top three speeds in the superpole session. At 285.7kph through the speed trap, Sebastien Gimbert was the fastest on his Yamaha Motor France machine, followed by Haga (284.2kph) and Pitt (283.5kph).

The Yamaha Motor France squad saw two of its riders qualify for the top 16 superpole shootout. Home rider Gimbert was the fastest of the squad's trio, earning a third row start with 12th position. Shinichi Nakatomi starts from the fourth row maintaining his pre-superpole 14th, although fellow Japanese Norick Abe was one of the men to lose out in the weather conditions. The Japanese rider was hoping to improve his 18th position from Friday but had no chance due to the wet conditions this morning. Abe was able to find some improvements in the afternoon free practice session, ending 16th on the timesheets.

Pole position for tomorrow's races goes to outgoing world champion Troy Corser (Suzuki), with James Toseland (Honda), Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) and Karl Muggeridge (Honda) completing the front row.

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)

"Second row is ok, in fact in many ways fifth (on the grid) is better than third or fourth because I am on the outside going into the first corner. Race set-up is good but we're going to make a few changes to the gearbox settings to make it a little better still. The conditions made it pointless to ride in the morning session but this afternoon went well and I had fun riding in the group with Toseland."

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)

"I made a mistake on the first sector of my superpole lap and for sure I'm disappointed to be starting ninth. But actually our race set-up is ok and we should be in good shape for the race. I did a good simulation in the practice and our race pace seems to be up there with everyone else."

Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France)

"The first free practice session was difficult because I could not do many laps due to a small technical problem. Later on, we worked very well on the suspension and I was able to get into the 1:40 bracket. I can go fast with the bike and am able to make consistent laps. Tomorrow, I shall try to shine to thank my team, my mechanics and my sponsors. This is also the occasion to prove the qualities of the endurance riders."

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)

"Yesterday during the timed session, I could go faster and faster when I followed some riders like Chili, Nieto and Fabrizio. My best improvement was when I followed Troy Corser - I went one second quicker! Many riders here are following other riders. For me, it was a good progression. I am very happy to have made superpole but my settings for the race are also good. We only have very little details to improve and we do that step by step."

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)

"Yesterday I was 18th and I wanted to qualify for superpole this morning. But the conditions were so bad that is was impossible. So I had to change my mind. We work on the bike to improve the setting. Tomorrow I must make a good race."

Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia)

"I think that we're in a good situation for the race. Despite missing the morning session we know what tyres to use in the races and both riders have made good simulations. I think Andrew expected a little more on his superpole lap. He made a few mistakes and that cost him a few places on the grid, although his race pace is good and he should be up there tomorrow. Nori ran with Toseland in the afternoon and found a good rhythm. We'll make a few changes to the gearbox on his bike tonight but otherwise we are ready for what should be some good races tomorrow."

-credit: yamaha racing

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Norifumi Abe , Andrew Pitt , Noriyuki Haga , James Toseland , Troy Corser , Karl Muggeridge , Sébastien Gimbert , Lorenzo Lanzi , Shinichi Nakatomi