2012 Nürburgring WSBK: Friday At The GP-Strecke
On the Nürburgring GP-Strecke, the track adjoining the famous Nordschleife, Althea Ducati's Davide Giugliano and Carlos Checa shared the spoils on a sunny and dry Friday. The morning was Giugliano's and the afternoon was Checa's. Checa complained about alack of grip while Giugliano was recording fas laps on the harder tyre all day. This is a track that Checa reckons the Ducati goes well at, and one he could try and remount an assault on the championship table, something that's not going the World Champion's way right now. Giugliano just needs to finish both races as, two podiums and incredible qualifying aside, the Italian struggles to score points in both races and, as he reckons he's not at peak fitness, another injury could hold him back. With Chaz Davies on the ascension, his place as best rookie is in for a serious challenge.
Tom Sykes took his maiden victory here last year, and was quick in both sessions. This track suits Sykes and his Kawasaki. Another Tissot for the collection is likely, but the Englishman will be aiming for podiums and even wins. With 22.5 points separating him and Max Biaggi, second place in the championship is a realistic prospect, and would be a suitable reward for his hard work and talent this year. Six races remain, and Sykes looks likely to give Il Corsaro trouble right to the end. Biaggi did well in the morning but didn't see much improvement in the afternoon and promises to make larger changes to his bike to se if there's more to be had. His team mate Eugene Laverty, after an off in the morning, managed to go faster than the Italian in the afternoon. With team orders likely to come into play on Sunday, Laverty's hopes for a podium rely on Biaggi having bad luck, or even better results.
Marco Melandri looked dangerous in the morning, dominating the earlier part of the session, but as everyone got to grips with the conditions, his early advantage was shredded. In the afternoon, his still injured team mate, Leon Haslam, out-qualified him. Haslam is still suffering from the crash in Moscow where Biaggi ploughed into him at the end of the long straight. It would not be at all surprising if Haslam were to play a supporting role in Melandri's title chase, especially if the rumours of the pair of them riding together for the 2013 BMW team are true. Jonathan Rea, the other man Biaggi clipped, is stealing headlines for his replacing of Casey Stoner on the MotoGP factory Repsol Honda, fresh from stealing headlines for winning the prestigious Suzuka Eight Hour race in Japan. He is confident that he can mix it with the fast men tomorrow.
In World Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu can theoretically secure the title on Sunday. He is 33 points ahead of Jules Cluzel and 35 points ahead of Sam Lowes. With three races left and 75 points up for grabs, it looks like the title is still wide open, but if the Turk gets a podium, he has one hand on the trophy. Sam Lowes was the fastest man today, and sounds confident enough to carry that form on over the rest of the weekend. He will be looking to make amends for his jump start at Moscow and, as he can't take the title lead this weekend, he will be aiming for Jules Cluzel's spot. Fabien Foret and Broc Parkes will most likely be ruled out of the championship race on Sunday, leaving it to the top three to fight out.