Though provisional pole went to Leon Haslam in Friday afternoon’s World Superbike qualifying practice at Monza, reigning World Champion Max Biaggi made headlines of his own by breaking the WSBK top speed record. Despite this feat, Haslam outqualified the Italian at home by just 0.019s in a final lap dash, with Eugene Laverty and Ayrton Badovini completing the provisional front row for Yamaha and BMW Motorrad Italia.
Though there will be another qualifying practice Saturday morning and the three sessions of Superpole yet to be held to determine the pole sitter for Sunday’s race, Biaggi is looking to gain back momentum lost in the debacle that was Donington Park. “We need to recover points and we have plenty of potential to be able to do so, even the Assen round showed that,” said Biaggi. He added, “Racing in Italy in front of my supporters will obviously give me a little more charge.” That charge led to the new record of 332.5 kph (206.62 mph) set by Biaggi on Friday.
However, the Aprilia has been setting fast speeds throughout the season so far, without necessarily turning those speeds into poles or wins. Waiting in the wings, Haslam showed good pace Friday, so did the surprisingly quick BMW satellite rider Badovini, who also benefited from an Italian home crowd charge.
Badovini’s still-recovering teammate James Toseland languished down in twenty-first during Friday’s qualifying practice. Chris Vermeulen, also on the riding-injured list, did not participate in the afternoon session after an off during the morning free practice required four stitches on his elbow. He is expected to ride Saturday and race Sunday. Meanwhile, current points leader Carlos Checa was only fourteenth fastest in this first qualifying practice.