2012 Misano WSBK - Saturday At Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
Today, Misano World Circuit finalised its association with the late Marco Simoncelli by formally adopting and unveiling its new name: Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. While this was announced last November, only today was the name and logo, designed by Aldo Drudi, unveiled.
With the weather rearing its ugly head once more, World Superbikes looked like it could be threatened once more. However, the skies cleared at the right time and we were treated to an unusual dry wet Superpole that tested strategy and mettle.
The morning session started cautiously but once again gave Tom Sykes a chance to shine. On Friday, he wasn't the fastest Kawasaki in either session, but today he topped every sheet and bagged his fifth pole position out of seven races this year. Once again, we are going to suggest that he would do well to convert this form to Sunday and win a full-points race. With one win to Melandri's two, he concedes second place to the Italian, even though they are on identical points. With eight rounds left to run, it's highly improbable he'll be on equal points to another rider at the end of the season, but he needs wins to be in with a shout. Still, as long as he keeps putting that Kawasaki on pole and in front of the cameras, his team and sponsors will be happy. What a lap.
Jonathan Rea seemed content with second at the scene of the crash that nearly ended his career last year and even acknowledged that Sykes's lap was “unbelievable” and that second was as good as he could expect. Having won here in the past, and having two wins already this year, things are looking up for Rea, in spite of his Honda. Bringing Chris Pike, his old BSB technician, into the team seems to be paying dividends this year.
Ayrton Badovini was the fastest BMW in Superpole and qualified his highest of the year in third place. Badovini always looks more out of shape than any other BMW rider, and today was no exception. His lurid style is always a little unnerving in damp conditions, but his BMW didn't let him down.
Davide Giugliano managed to get a front row start without getting a tow off his team mate Carlos Checa for once. Solid performance all weekend put his Ducati ahead of that of Jakub Smrz, a man renowned for qualifying well.
Leon Haslam complained about chatter in Superpole 2, something he didn't experience on race tyres. Luckily, he didn't gamble on being able to get a last gasp lap on a drying track in the first session, unlike his BMW team mate Marco Melandri who languished in 13th place. Haslam's 6th place puts him in good stead, especially as he's confident in his race setup.
The fastest Aprilia in qualifying belonged to Eugene Laverty in 7th, instead of Max Biaggi. Biaggi fell foul of gambling on the conditions and ended up in 10th place.
Unfortunately, Sylvain Guintoli crashed out of Superpole 2 early, in the middle of a fast lap. With the single bike rule, he couldn't get out on another bike even though there was plenty of time. He was doomed to sit in his garage watching as rider after rider beat his lap, kicking him down to 8th.
While Biaggi and Melandri missed out on Superpole 2 due to insufficient time to suss the track at the end of the session, Carlos Checa put himself in 16th place by getting mixed signals from his team. At the end of Superpole 1, Checa waited until the track had dried and, as he was getting ready for his fast lap, he saw his pit board said BOX, the word used to summon the rider back to the garage. Instead of staying out, he went back to the garage and didn't have enough time to get back out to qualify. Checa was understandably furious when he realised his team's mistake, but diplomatically stated “Maybe we should have clarified our strategy beforehand. There was a miscommunication.”
One thing is certain; with the 2010 World Champion on the third row and the 2011 World Champion on the fourth, the first few laps should be electrifying.
In World Supersports, the conditions made for tricky qualifying and very little change from the Friday line-up. Again, Sam Lowes is proving to be Supersport's Tom Sykes, bagging another pole for 2012. With Jules Cluzel, Broc Parkes and Kenan Sofuoglu joining him on the front row, with Fabien Foret behind them, this should prove to be another great battle.