Troy Bayliss may have taken his seventh Superpole of the season and 25th of his career at Vallelunga, but the Australian is predicting a tough battle to secure his third and final World Superbike title on Sunday.
The Ducati Xerox star, who will retire at the end of 2008, needs to maintain his present 101 point advantage to claim the crown two rounds early
"It's always nice to take a pole position, it's a great feeling and another one to add to my career total," said Troy. "I'm aware that I can win the title tomorrow but it's going to be really tough as these guys here with me are going to try and stop me for sure."
The riders in question include Yamaha Motor Italia team-mates Troy Corser and Noriyuki Haga, who were the only other riders to qualify under 1min 37secs during windy conditions at a track still 'green' after Friday's rain.
"I took pole here last year too but there was more wind this afternoon so that may have slowed us all down a little but it wasn't a problem really," said Bayliss, who can also claim his 50th WSBK win on Sunday. "My lap wasn't perfect but we did enough and so I'm very satisfied."
Hometown hero Max Biaggi will complete the front row in Sunday's two races, while fellow Roman Michel Fabrizio took his factory 1098 to seventh position.
"I'm disappointed that I won't be starting from the front row of the grid tomorrow; it's my home round and I hoped to do better in this afternoon's Superpole," admitted the Xerox rider. "I'm not sure what happened, I made a small mistake right at the start, on entering the first curve and so lost time in the first split due to that. Anyway, it seems that the race pace is there so I'm staying positive. I will start from seventh position and we'll see if I can take two good results tomorrow, for me, for my team and also for the fans."