Haslam claims provisional pole in Portugal

Leon Haslam claims an early advantage after opening qualifying at Portimao, with Michel Fabrizio, Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi completing the provisional front row
World Superbike Championship leader Leon Haslam stamped his mark on proceedings during first qualifying for the second round of the season in Portugal, the Briton coming away with provisional pole position.

Having been edged out by James Toseland during free practice, Haslam, whose win and second place finish at the Phillip Island season opener has given him an early nine point advantage in the standings, stayed firmly in charge during the afternoon session.

With Toseland's best morning effort proving some two seconds off the lap record, it did not take long for some riders to dip below the Yamaha rider's marker when action restarted, with Carlos Checa going first before Cal Crutchlow assumed the lead with a 1min 44.126secs.

It was a benchmark that stood for some time, Crutchlow staying out front for 25 minutes before team-mate Toseland usurped him with a best of 1min 43.735secs.

Holding firm for five minutes, Haslam would go on to creep ahead by one tenth before a following effort of 1min 43.476secs ensured he would not be bettered to the chequered flag.

Michel Fabrizio and Checa did their best to topple Haslam, but both would lose time in the final sector to leave them a threatening second and third.

Having languished outside the top ten for much of the session, Max Biaggi hauled himself up to fourth place late on at the expense of Toseland and Crutchlow, the Yamaha pair nonetheless satisfied with an encouraging opening day performance.

Shane Byrne joined his Althea Ducati team-mate inside the top ten in seventh, ahead of fellow privateer 'twin' counterpart Jakub Smrz on the PATA B&G machine.

Leon Camier and Jonathan Rea followed in ninth and tenth, the British pair edging out Noriyuki Haga, last year's runner-up almost six tenths off the pace in 11th position.

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jimmy - Unregistered

March 26, 2010 9:49 PM

hd22: I partially agree but... e.g. Haga had rubbish bike (Aprilia Cube), Troy's Ducati was underdeveloped at that time (he was not far behind Capirex btw) etc... everything is relative. I don't dispute that MotoGP is a top bike series. It is. But I also think that World Superbikes have more to offer right now (for a real bike racing fan, not for media-brainwashed muppet who wants nothing but candyfloss). Closer, various racing, better attitude towards fans, cheaper tickets... but of course, who wants to see the F1 on two wheels, MotoGP is here for him...


March 26, 2010 5:51 PM

Man Suzuki has really stepped up this year. Maybe the demise of AMA as we know it brought their A Team to WSBK. Never in a million years would I have guessed the Suzuki guys would be running like they are right now. Mr. Haslam and Suzuki are looking strong again. Good show Leon. :p

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