Noriyuki Haga is brimming with confidence after securing his first pole position with the Ducati Xerox team during qualifying for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at the Nurburgring.
Snatching the position from Jonathan Rea after an inspired last minute effort, the championship leader would emerge a comfortable three tenths faster than his nearest competition.
Remarkably, this is only the seventh pole position Haga has achieved in a career that has spanned 15 years and covered 252 races, his feat coming at a time when he is coming under increasing pressure from a charging Ben Spies in the standings.
With the American down in fifth position, Haga, who won both races around the German circuit last season, is determined to maintain his envious record come Sunday.
“You can see that I'm back in shape after the holidays and I'm very happy to have taken the pole today. It's my first pole position with Ducati and it comes just at the right time, as the championship reaches the final stages.
“I've been feeling comfortable on the bike all weekend and this bodes well for tomorrow. I like the track a lot and, having gone well here last year, I'm looking forward to racing.”
Team-mate Michel Fabrizio was also able to get ahead of Spies, but he brings up the rear of the front row in fourth position after being denied by Rea and Leon Haslam.
“I am fairly happy with the result; it's just a shame I made a small mistake on the last corner because I think if I had nailed that I could have finished second or third.
“Anyway the important thing is that I'm starting from the front row and I am more than ready to fight for the win tomorrow. I predict a close battle between us on the Ducatis and the two Hondas.”