Tamada San the Superpole Man

Glenn le santo
by Glenn le santo
Cabin Honda rider Makoto Tamada continued his domination of the Sugo round of the World Superbike championship again today. So far he?s been fastest in all practice and qualifying sessions and he capped his performance with a faultless Superpole to claim pole for Sunday's race.

Tamada San was the only rider in Superpole to dip under the 1?29 second mark with a time of 1:28.797, a fraction slower than his qualifying session time of 1:28.658. After Superpole he modestly dismissed his performance, "The time is slower than the fastest lap here in the All Japan Superbikes last year, so it is not that good really." It might not have been fast enough to win an All Japan race but he's on target for a race win, or even a double, if his form continues on race day.
Second on the grid is last year's double World Superbike winner at Sugo, Kawasaki rider Hitoyasu Izutsu, he lapped the Superpole in 1:29.203 to edge out the fastest Superbike regular Troy Corser. Of course, Izutsu is a semi-regular; he's already competed in both the Valencia and Phillip Island rounds. The All-Japan Superbike series is yet to start but Izutsu, who plans to do more rounds in the SBK series, admitted it will be hard competing in both.
Troy Corser takes third on the grid, having set a respectable time of 1:29.417 in Superpole and ended second fastest in qualifying. He was philosophical about the local domination of the meeting so far, "It's been a long time since a non-Japanese rider has won here," Corser pointed out. "Tamada San is very fast but with other regular riders struggling I am happy to get as many points as possible here for the championship."
Ben Bostrom and Neil Hodgson dug Ducati out of what has been a difficult weekend so far by qualifying fourth and sixth respectively. Tamada's team mate Shinico Itoh was fifth fastest, with Akira Yanagawa seventh. World Champion Colin Edwards completes row two in eighth.
Title leader Troy Bayliss and Infostrada team mate Ruben Xaus both failed to make the Superpole cut. When asked about what is obviously an embarrassment to the factory Ducati team Davide Tardozzi, team manager, commented, "It is a disaster! This is the first time the team has missed the Superpole. We are trying to understand what the problems are, which are mainly tyre problems. We have a meeting later today (Saturday) to try and solve the difficulties. Troy Bayliss is half a second slower than last year, and that was his first year in the bike and on Michelin tyres. The bike is better, Troy is better, so I can't understand the problems.
Whatever Tardozzi and the Ducati team's problems are, it seems Bostrom and Hodgson may already have sorted theirs, Bostrom qualified for Superpole in 14th position so to take a front row start was a great leap forward from him. The same applies to Hodgson who was provisional ninth going into Superpole so improved by three places.
It will be a difficult race for the regulars on Sunday, but Troy Corser must be the favourite to break the local domination at the moment.

Final World Superbike qualifying times:
1 Makoto Tamada, Japan (Honda) 1m 28.797s,
2 Hitoyasu Izutsu, Japan (Kawasaki) 1m 29.203s,
3 Troy Corser, Australia (Aprilia) 1m 29.417s,
4 Ben Bostrom, USA (Ducati) 1m 29.510s,
5 Shinichi Ito, Japan (Honda) 1m 29.548s,
6 Neil Hodgson, GB (Ducati) 1m 29.634s,
7 Akira Yanagawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 1m 29.755s,
8 Colin Edwards, USA (Honda) 1m 29.803s,
9 Tamaki Serizawa, Japan (Kawasaki) 1m 29.880s,
10 Akira Ryo, Japan (Suzuki) 1m 30.020s.
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Glenn le santo
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