Three manufacturers in the top three at Losail
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) proved to be the fastest rider in the first session of the weekend at Losail, after carving 0.6 seconds from the previous best SBK lap of the 5.4km circuit.
A close session saw James
Toseland (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) ride to within 0.037 seconds of Haga, and edge out SBK 'rookie' Max Biaggi (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) to third. Biaggi was the early pacesetter, proving an instant hit when the first competitive laps were played out under the hot sun in the Qatari desert.
The overnight front row four was completed by 1996 and 2005 World Champion Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia), in his first competitive SBK ride for his new employers.
Given his speed during testing, the biggest surprise of the day was reserved for the news that Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) was not only not the fastest rider, but also that he was also outperformed on the day by his team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi. The top two Ducati riders were fifth and sixth respectively. Former Qatar race winner Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) earned seventh fastest time, and the big seven were the only ones within a second of provisional pole. The second row was completed by multiple SBK race winner of years gone by, Ruben Xaus (Team Sterilgarda Ducati), a welcome sight in the top eight. British rider Dean Ellison (Team Pedercini 999RS) was 18th from 23 entrants.
Roby Rolfo (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is far enough along his Honda learning curve to be ninth fastest after the first day of qualifying, and also did well enough to ace the top Kawasaki rider on show, Fonsi Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) who was tenth.
Regis Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse) was only 13th but is almost sure to make improvements on day two. The private riders placed well behind the best of the officially supported machines, as Michel Fabrizio (DFX Corse Honda) and Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Germany) completed the overnight third row.
Alto Evolution Honda rider Josh Brookes scored 14th best time on his CBR1000RR, but a double bike failure for his fellow Aussie and Alto Evolution rider Karl Muggeridge prevented him from setting even a single qualifying lap.
The last two riders into the top 16 today were lone Yamaha YZF Team rider Shinichi Nakatomi and DFX Corse Honda rider Steve Martin. New SBK inductee Jakub Smrz (Team Caracchi Ducati SC) was a battling 17th, one place up on Ellison.
SBK Press Office