Noriyuki Haga recovered from two tumbles, including one that saw his head get hit by the bike, to claim provisional pole position for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at Vallelunga.
Prevailing in tricky wet conditions, Haga was comfortably quickest in both free practice and provisional qualifying, but had to shrug off two falls in the process.
With the high-speed Italian circuit, which is better renowned for hosting dry and dusty races, proving slippery in the wet, Haga came down towards the beginning of the session, but recovered to keep hold of the fastest time.
However, he suffered an even heavier fall towards the end of the session when he tumbled coming onto the back straight. With the Yamaha hitting his head at one point, the red flags were deployed. Nonetheless, with the rain falling heavier, an otherwise unhurt Haga remained top of the timesheets.
Somewhat unfazed by what had occurred, Haga was just pleased to come away in charge, even if he would rather it be dry in final qualifying tomorrow.
“We set the fastest time so we can be very happy with that but the rain made things much more complicated for us, and everyone else as well. I fell hard on the part of the track that flicks left before the back straight, and the bike landed on my head at one stage.
“I was surprised because I had found more feel with the back tyre grip through the session, and when the back tyre went it felt the same way as it does when you hit oil. No warning, no slide, just gone. But we set the fastest time, even though I also fell earlier in that same session, when I lost the front. I would be happy if tomorrow it is not raining!”
To see Haga's thrills and spills at Vallelunga CLICK HERE
to view the full gallery.