Motorcycling: Toseland confident of improving in race to seal title

James Toseland's penultimate weekend in the World Superbike series got off to a steady start when the championship leader was fifth-fastest in the first qualifying session in unpredictable weather in Vallelunga, Italy, yesterday.

The Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider lapped the Italian circuit in a best time of 1min 38.111sec, over half a second slower than the Australian Troy Corser on his Motor Italia Yamaha to claim provisional pole.

Toseland needs to better Corser's team-mate Noriyuki Haga's results tomorrow by nine points to seal his second World title before joining MotoGP with Yamaha next season and he was only a fifth of a second slower than the Japanese rider, who recorded the third-fastest time.

The Sheffield-born 26-year-old was happy with his performance and with the weather set to be fine for race day tomorrow he believes he is a good position to reclaim the title he won in 2004.

"I am really pleased that the rain held off this afternoon because if it had rained we'd be in a really difficult position for tomorrow," Toseland said. "As it is, we have a few small problems but it's nothing we can't solve. We've definitely moved in the right direction today and we can improve."