Ducati Lead the Way in WSBK Opening Session

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) powered to the front on the first day'squalifying session for the opening round of the 2002 World SuperbikeChampionship at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Spain. In warm dryconditions, the 24-year-old from Barcelona broke the Bayliss-Hagastranglehold on the one-hour session with a time of 1:34.927 set towards theend. Ducati Infostrada team-mate and 2001 world champion Troy Bayliss was afraction behind the Spanish rider in second, with Aprilia's Noriyuki Hagathird quickest. Ducati L&M's Ben Bostrom was just four-tenths of a secondoff provisional pole in fifth, right behind Honda's Colin Edwards.

Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) said that he was delighted with the performance of his 998R Factory bike around the 4.005 km circuit and that he was encountering none of the front-end problems he had experienced at Valenciaten days ago. "Everything was perfect", he declared. "I really feel I'm riding the best bike ever. It's all completely different from ten days ago, when I had a few problems with the front. I would say that the bike has always been perfect but now I feel I'm taking a lot less risk. Tomorrow Ithink it's possible to get some more time off, but for the moment I'm just really happy with today's performance".

Defending champion Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) was less than one-tenth of a second slower than Xaus on his 998R Factory, but felt there was a lot more to come during the afternoon's second and final qualifying session. "That wasn't bad for a first day at work", he commented. "We have already got quite a good set-up and the bike is proving to be fast around here. Tomorrowwe've got a few more settings to try out, but I'm feeling good about everything and confident I can get some more off my time tomorrow".

Ducati's third factory rider Ben Bostrom (Ducati L&M) was slightly disappointed with his fifth-place slot, despite being less than half-a-second off Xaus's provisional pole mark. "It didn't really go the way we wanted it to go so I'm a bit disappointed, but tomorrow is a new day", hesaid. "There wasn't much difference from the tests here ten days ago, but we 've still got a lot of work to do. We need to get our race tyre picked, do some laps and get the bike set up a little better and then we'll be happy.On one of my quick laps out there I pushed my Q-tyre too hard in half a lap and then on the other I was caught behind another rider."

TEMPERATURES: air 19°C / track 26°C

Friday Qualifying Times:1. Xaus (Ducati Infostrada) 1'34.9272. Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada) 1'34.9993. Haga (Aprilia) 1'35.0304. Edwards (Honda) 1'35.3125. Bostrom (Ducati L&M) 1'35.3746. Izutsu (Kawasaki) 1'35.3857. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.3938. Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.4299. Chili (Ducati NCR) 1'35.70810. Pedercini (Ducati) 1'35.873 Thanks to Ducati Corse Press for this release.
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