Latest World Superbike Results
Race two at Laguna Seca would be started without two riders, and with the red flags brought out the grids for restarts would be further reduced.
As the riders relaxed on the grid before the race, Eugene Laverty's Suzuki had the tank off and the throttle bodies on a towel on the tarmac as his engineers hurried to fix a problem. The 21°C Californian sun ensured that anyone who would start would do so on a hot dry track.
Qualifying at Laguna Seca was in unsurprisingly glorious Californian weather, with the dry lake bowl providing the usual entertainment, in spite of there being no long straights on the short, but exceedingly popular, track. With the Corkscrew getting the column inches, the last turn, the first gear turn 11, is the one that catches most people out, and it caught a rider out in Superpole Two.
Unlike the usual schedule, with limited pit space causing the absence of World Supersport and requiring all manner of logistical shifts, all three timed qualifying sessions took place on the Friday, with the entries to Superpole decided yesterday.
Tom Sykes puts himself at the top of the most likely to get pole position with a blistering 1'23.097 ahead of the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. On a track where outright top speed and power aren't necessary to do well, as can be seen by the top speeds below, Sykes still shows that on a single lap, he's at the top of the pile.
Chaz Davies heads to Superpole with the fastest time of the day, beating the Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Tom Sykes has to rely on his time from the second session for provisional fourth, while Toni Elias's time from the first session qualifies him for Superpole Two, knocking Loris Baz down to Superpole One where he will be one of the favourites to be promoted to the second session.
Tom Sykes set the quickest time ahead of Chaz Davies, much like the results of race one last year. Marco Melandri, third quickest today, was fourth behind Eugene Laverty in that race.
Sylvain Guintoli sets the only 1'23 lap of the session but has still got 1.2 seconds before he matches his own best time, the outright lap record of 1'22.683, set in 2013. Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri are within three tenths of a second.
Rain is the great leveller, with some bikes that lack power or traction suddenly being just as rideable as the ones at the sharper end. Suddenly, being on a Fireblade or a GSXR isn't the handicap it would otherwise be, and the Panigale looks like a contender. It won't put the Evo bikes to the front, but if you're in the top ten, having the right bike is suddenly no longer as important.
With rain pouring from the sky, the umbrellas were put to their proper use. Along with wet-weather tyres, everyone softened their springs, reduced their damping, put on the double-wide knee sliders and slotted clear visors in their helmets. The race was reduced to eighteen laps and everyone got wet.
The weather continued to look threatening for the start of the World Supersport race.
Grey skies loomed over the grid as most of the bikes lined up, with the EBRs starting from the pit lane with new engines ahead of their home round in Laguna Seca. The temperature was down on yesterday even if the wind wasn't.
After the light-hearted fun and games on Twitter yesterday, with Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty poking fun at Tom Sykes and his stated dislike of the hills at Portimão, the serious business of qualifying settled all the disputes.
Qualifying was done under the same warm and windy conditions as World Superbike.