Latest World Superbike Results
Both World Superbike and World Supersport were victims of the cold and miserable rain. In the free practice session only five World Superbike riders even recorded a complete lap, with the rest sitting it out. In the afternoon session, as it was a timed session, everyone went out to get a lap in case the rain continued into Saturday, an unlikely event, but not impossible. All predictions, reliability being a benefit of East Midlands airport living next door, point to nothing but sun for both Saturday and Sunday.
Rain closed the session once more, with Tom Sykes claiming provisional pole position with a time two and a half seconds slower than his qualifying record from last year. Jonathan Rea is making good his promise to perform well here, at a track that doesn't require outright speed, as seen by the top speeds being a good 70kmh slower than at Aragon or Monza.
Sykes crashed out at the old hairpin as the conditions got worse, but he escaped without injury.
Sam Lowes topped the timed session to get provisional pole over a second faster than Kenan Sofuoglu. Lowes left it until late in the session before heading out and only recorded four complete laps, claiming the top spot with three out of those four laps.
The riders are still over ten seconds off the lap record set by Sam Lowes in 2011, and Gabor Talmasci was the fastest man throughout most of the session, setting the fastest lap ten times, until Lowes and Sofuoglu fought for the pole slot. The track conditions are still holding the times up, but the weather promises to improve tomorrow.
So few riders went out on track, as the wet conditions rendered the session useless. Chaz Davies, a rider who last year complained of a lack of wet weather experience, recorded the quickest time of the few daring enough to brave the deluge.
Kenan Sofuoglu managed to put in a fast lap before the rain started to come down at a cold and damp Donington.
Motor racing has been described as drag racing between corners. Never is this adage truer than at Monza. Speed out of corners is paramount, especially out of the Parabolica, the fast last corner that leads on to the equally fast start/finish straight. The faster you exit a corner, the sooner you reach your top speed. Monza has two long straights, both with fast corners leading onto them; this is what makes it different from other tracks with long straights. Fuel limits and tyres come into play in a different way here than any other track on the calendar. The other unique aspect of Monza is the controversies that arise from its uniqueness, and this weekend was no different in that respect.
Fourth time lucky, the World Supersport race was reduced to a ten-lap dash at the end of the day.
The second World Superbike race at Monza once again demonstrated the kind of excitement that only a fast track can deliver.
The World Supersport race was halted after four laps after the front four riders all went down on oil that was not spotted from a third lap crash at Variante Della Roggia. The restart lasted for two laps before a rider crashed out of the Ascari chicane, immolating the motorbike and destroying the ablative air fencing; an automatic red flag. On the third start of the race, a ten-lap dash, a rider ploughed through Prima Variente, the first chicane, taking a few other racers with him. A third red flag was waved and the race was postponed until after the second World Superbike race. Nobody was significantly hurt in any of the incidents.
Eighteen laps at a dry Italian speed track that rewards a clear head and a fast bike.
Rain topped and tailed the day, hopefully squeezing the last drops out before the races tomorrow so that Monza can enjoy a very Italian mother's day. One lucky mother will be getting a set of Jules Cluzel leathers, stolen from his trailer, unless they're recovered before tomorrow. Another mother hoping to be lucky is Mrs Lowes, mother of Alex and Sam, who saw Alex Lowes win a BSB race on Monday and Sam Lowes win last Superbike race at Assen.
World Supersport qualifying looked more like a race, with large groups of riders clumped together in the fast sections, trying to get a slipstream advantage.
Superpole was blessed with the promised good weather, allowing the riders to get on with pushing their machines down the multiple high-speed sections of the old Italian track. The qualifying tyres were pink-ringed for Mother's Day instead of having their usual yellow stripe.
Eugene Laverty led Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes, all within a quarter of a second. Sylvain Guintoli was once again the fastest bike through the speed trap, at 337.1kmh, while Leon Camier ensured there were four different manufacturers of motorcycle in the top five.
For race-pace, Laverty, Sykes and Guintoli registered the most 1'42 laps, with Laverty stringing together a decent run at the end of the session.
Toward the end of the morning's free practice session, it looked likely the front row would end up an all-Kawasaki affair, but Sam Lowes was able to snatch his familiar position at the top in the flag. With both Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret recording higher speed trap figures, the slip stream effect in the race should prove important, as usual.