Witham Leads Friday Supersport

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
James Whitham set the pace with the fastest lap in Friday's openingqualifying session for round three of the World Supersport championship atSugo in Japan.

Whitham ended the one hour session 0.4s faster than Yamaha team-mate PaoloCasoli with Honda¹s Pere Riba - winner of the opening round and seriesleader - third despite a scare in the morning¹s free practice session...

"I picked up a nail in the rear tire," explained Ten Kate team rider Riba."The first I knew was when the rear tire slid around on me and I almostcrashed."

Piergiorgio Bontempi completes the provisional front row for Sunday's 25-laprace at the 2.32-mile track near Sendai city, in the north of the country.

Riba¹s team-mate Fabien Foret leads the provisional second row on his CBR600Honda machine with former champion Fabrizio Pirovano sixth on a Suzuki anddefending world champion Jorg Teuchert seventh fastest.

Suzuki rider Katsuaki Fujiwara completes a provisional second row with theJapanese ace out to impress on home soil in Sunday¹s race. Scotsman IanMacPherson is ninth and his Kawasaki team-mate Andrew Pitt completes the top10.

Castrol Honda's Chris Vermeulen was happy with 17th place on his first visitto the Sugo circuit, he said: "The circuit¹s easy to learn but difficult toget right for a fast lap time. But I¹m only one second off a front row startat the moment so I¹m pleased with today."

BKM Honda's Kevin Curtain - the race winner in Australia last Sunday - setthe 13th fastest time with Alpha Technik's Adam Fergusson 16th and histeam-mate Markus Barth 31st while BKM¹s Ivan Goi ended the opening day in33rd.

Friday's World Supersport qualifying times:1 James Whitham, GB (Yamaha) 1m 33.194s,2 Paolo Casoli, Italy (Yamaha) 1m 33.597s,3 Pere Riba, Spain (Honda) 1m 33.737s,4 Piergiorgio Bontempi, Italy (Yamaha) 1m 33.838s,5 Fabien Foret, France (Honda) 1m 33.852s,6 Fabrizio Pirovano, Italy (Suzuki) 1m 33.998s,7 Jorg Teuchert, Germany (Yamaha) 1m 34.126s,8 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan (Suzuki) 1m 34.214s,9 Iain MacPherson, GB (Kawasaki) 1m 34.230s,10 Andrew Pitt, Australia (Kawasaki) 1m 34.338s.
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