The qualifying sessions of round eight in the World Superbike Championships took place in perfect track conditions today in Portimao, Portugal.
With Melandri looking to continue showing the form he’d displayed in the previous Free Practice sessions and the contingent of British riders seemingly intent on bringing their twitter bickering onto the track, the day was set up for a fascinating conclusion and it failed to disappoint.
SP1 provided the first drama of the day with a red flag being shown a mere three minutes into the session, after Claudio Corti suffered a bizarre, lowside crash from his MV Agusta which saw medics scrambled to the track on the crest of turn eight. With bike being returned to the paddock and rider safely escorted to the medical centre for a suspected leg fracture, the restart came and the rest of the remaining twelve minutes passed by incident free, with Salom [1m 43.983s - Kawasaki Racing]and Barrier [1m 44.005s BMW Italia] progressing through to SP2.
With fifteen minutes on the clock for the Superpole 2 session, Leon Haslam exploded out of the pits and posted the fastest lap of the weekend so far with his first, flying lap [1m 43.682]. His teammate, Jonathon Rea soon took the position back however, posting a 1m 41.591 towards the end of this first stint. Even this wasn’t to last though, as Sykes, the man who had complained about the undulations of the Portimao track via Twitter yesterday, proved his mettle by scrubbing six-tenths off of Rea’s time.
And so, with three minutes left and with Haslam once again leading the group out for the second stint of the second session the final dramatic action of the arrived. Davies, Baz, Guintoli, Rea and Sykes all posted consecutive faster times before the clock counted itself down to zero. With the chequered flag showing and one final lap left for each of the top twelve riders, Alex Lowes on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki pushed that little too hard and crashed out, having seen himself close to his best lap of the weekend.
As Davies, the final rider, completed his lap it was Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes who took the pole for the first of tomorrow’s races with a blistering 1m 42.484, from Jonathan Rae [1m 42.765] and Chaz Davies [1m 42.924]
‘I’m relaxed and happy’ said Sykes, ‘We made some changes, put the Pirelli qualifying tyre on and it went well. Our race set-up is none too shabby so I’m looking forward to tomorrow!’
1 1 T. SYKES GBR Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'42.484
2 65 J. REA GBR PATA Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 1'42.765
3 7 C. DAVIES GBR Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'42.924
4 33 M. MELANDRI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.038
5 76 L. BAZ FRA Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'43.048
6 50 S. GUINTOLI FRA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.076
7 58 E. LAVERTY IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'43.245
8 34 D. GIUGLIANO ITA Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'43.317
9 91 L. HASLAM GBR PATA Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 1'43.475
10 52 S. BARRIER FRA BMW Motorrad Italia SBK BMW S1000 RR EVO 1'43.754
11 22 A. LOWES GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'43.840
12 44 D. SALOM ESP Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'44.361