Friday, 3rd March 2006
Troy Bayliss continues to make headlines on his return to World Superbikes – the Australian superstar today taking provisional pole during first qualifying for his home event at Phillip Island.
The former world champion set a time of 1min 33.387secs in the later stages of the first hour of timed qualifying to displace new WSBK inductee Alex Barros from his previous lead on the time sheets.
A late push from Qatar race one winner James Toseland put him third fastest, with reigning World Champion Troy Corser fourth quickest for Alstare Suzuki. The top four riders were all within less than half a second, but Bayliss had a useful advantage over the other three, going 0.403secs faster than Barros.
"Things went well this morning for the first exit, and I expected to go quite a bit faster in the second session but actually in the end the track was quite hot and a bit slower and I only bettered the time by a tenth of a second" said Troy. "I stayed out and did ten laps on the race tyre and my second-last lap was only two-tenths off my best. So it all went quite well but took a little while to get going, then in the end it all came together. We'll see how tomorrow goes, we've got second qualifying first thing in the morning, when it'll be cooler and I think it's going to be better.
"I didn't know Alex was behind me, which was when he did his time, but I know he's going to be coming in the future anyway, that's no problem," added Bayliss, referring to a slipstream by the Brazilian. "All I know is that I was consistent on my race tyre and that's the main thing at the moment. At the end of the session the guys thought I was only going to do 3 or 4 laps to see how the bike was, but it was feeling really good so I ended up doing 10 and ran out of petrol on the way into Honda corner but luckily I could roll all the way back to the pits!"
Meanwhile, Bayliss's team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi started strongly with the fifth quickest time in the cooler morning free practice session, but was outside the top 16 in qualifying.
"We started off with a rear tyre that was too soft and this led us astray for a bit, and as we only have a limited number of tyres available, we couldn't put on another set to do a quick time" declared Lorenzo. "This morning I went well so I'm pretty relaxed about everything. For tomorrow we had already decided to have the extra tyre that we didn't use today. For sure tomorrow the weather will be fine and the times will come down because it won't be as hot in the morning session. It's a pity we made the wrong tactics because it meant that we went in the wrong direction immediately at the start of the session."