FRONT ROW FOR MAX! HUGE IMPROVEMENT ALSO FOR YUKIO
Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Max Biaggi rode a superb Superpole lap at Assen today and ended up with a position on the front row of the grid. He had been twelfth in regular qualifying but the changes he and the team made to the engine braking and balance of the bike made the bike more comfortable to ride this afternoon and he was able to push much harder in Superpole as a result.
His front row grid place means that he will not have to work his way through the field, as he did in Valencia. He knows that a good start is vital at Assen and that is what he will try and do in tomorrowís pair of 22-lappers. His team mate Yukio also struggled in normal qualifying, partly due to the fact that he is working on the development of a completely different ignition system.†
He just scraped in to the 16-rider Superpole shoot-out, after final qualifying, but then the improvements made to the Magneti Marelli system allowed him also to push much harder in the untimed afternoon session and Superpole. Series leader James Toseland (Honda) took Superpole (his first of the season), with Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) third, Troy Bayliss (Ducati) third and Max fourth.
MAX - 4th, 1:39.320
We had some problems during the first three sessions and we did a lot of work to get the engine braking and the balance of the bike right. The bike is not perfect yet and it is better in some parts of the track then others, but at least I am finding it easier to ride then on Friday. Also, Superpole is still a relatively new thing for me and I think I am beginning to understand how to attack it better. Of course, the level of grip is so much different on a Superpole lap to when you are on race tyres and thatís another thing to understand. It shows that, on race rubber, we have to try and get more traction. It felt a bit strange sitting around in the pits watching another eleven riders go out and try and beat my lap time. In Superpole anything can happen - just look at Haga today and Corser in Donington.†
Having now ridden on this new Assen layout, I can say that I prefer the Ďoldí Assen. That was a real challenge and it had a lot of very high-speed turns, so it was great fun to ride. The new design has slowed us up and itís difficult to use full power. Now itís important to have a well-balanced bike, with good throttle response. Iím happy to be on the front row, because this is not an easy track for overtaking and you certainly do not want to get held up at the start.
YUKIO - 1:39.928
My Superpole lap was so-so, because I made a few little mistakes, but considering I had only just managed to get into Superpole after normal qualifying, to get on the second row of the grid is good and that makes me a happy. This afternoon was so much better then Friday. We made some changes to the settings and improved the bike. The grip level is now better and I have a better feel for what is going on, but it is not enough.† I am working a lot on developing another ignition system and, like all things at the start, there have have been many things to work on and try and improve. But I think this system has good potential and each time out we learn something more. Sometimes this kind of situation can be a bit frustrating, but this is part of my job and I want to do it well. Tomorrow I am hoping that I can get a good pair of starts and follow with good results.