Noriyuki Haga has apologised to fans for qualifying only 13th for the opening round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship, but insists he will thrive from a 'pressure free' starting position.
Haga was the highest-profile scalp from the new knockout Superpole format, the Japanese rider's best effort in Q2 failing to get him any higher than 13th position after failing to administer the correct tactics.
Indeed, Haga acknowledges that he and the team didn't get it right and even went so far as to apologise to those who have tipped him as the favourite for this year's title.
Even so, Haga is looking on the bright side, claiming that by missing out on pole position, he won't have the pressure associated with starting at the front.
“Unfortunately the new Superpole proved a little difficult for us, and perhaps we didn't have the right tactics today. This new format means teams have to have tactics and there is more of a gamble.
“I would have liked to be faster of course and apologise to the fans that I won't be further forward on the grid but anyway, at least I don't go into tomorrow under great pressure, as I would have been if I had made pole! I am already thinking about my game plan for the races.
“We know we have been fast in all the sessions so far, we are comfortable with the race setting and we have pretty much decided with regard to the tyre to use for tomorrow's races. I will give 500 per cent and I will go out there and do my best!”
It wasn't a disastrous qualifying session for the reigning champions, with Michel Fabrizio sparing Xerox's blushes by going fifth quickest. Nonetheless, the Italian continues to have concerns about tyre wear ahead of the races.
“I hoped to be able to go faster in the third Superpole but unfortunately, again due to tyre-wear, it was not an achievable goal. I can however be satisfied that we have the necessary race pace even if I wont be starting from the front row as I wished. We have worked hard all weekend and I have been consistently fast up until now so I am still confident for tomorrow's races.”