Latest World Superbike Results
Wet Superpole rules were in place, meaning all 16 qualifying riders were on track at the same time with half being cut at the end of the first of two 20-minute sessions.
The practice session started very slowly with no-one willing to waste time on a drying track, but as the riders went out, it seemed that the BMWs had found conditions that suited their electronic package: Northern Europe's grey weather. As the track got drier and the laps got quicker, familiar names started creeping to the top, ending the session with the only man able to beat Tom Sykes's fastest time was Sykes himself in a last-lap flier to the flag. Previous winners Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa were split by Marco Melandri hinting at another potential BMW challenge on a track that traditionally favours Ducati and Honda.
Superpole should be interesting.
Weekend favourites Sam Lowes and Broc Parkes were the first riders to make an impression on the wet track, but as the session went on, it got drier, throwing some unfamiliar names to the top of the leader board. Lorenzo Lanzi was the man who put in fast times, lap after lap, at the end of the session while Lowes managed to remind us he's fast, wet or dry.
Riders who were able to bank a fast lap yesterday will head off to Superpole and those who missed out will be regretting the fact they didn't get off the mark quickly enough. Yesterday's rains were no surprise as the radar system warned of rain at 15:30 local time, which is why everybody was out immediately trying to put in a 'banker' before conditions got too dangerous for slicks. Today's session was all about finding wet settings.
The big names missing out on Superpole are Max Biaggi and Hiroshi Aoyama who will start from the fifth and sixth rows respectively. It remains to see if Zanetti will be allowed to race as he was outside the 107% required, but Race Direction may allow him to continue at their discretion.
A few riders put in fast laps before rain doomed their efforts. With no rider recording more than three complete laps before the rains came, the remainder of the session was mostly spent in the relative comfort of their garages. Rea and Melandri both popped out to get wet settings and were soon followed by a few other riders, but nobody really seemed to be in the mood to get their leathers wet, in spite of there being potential for rain tomorrow and Sunday. In the dying minutes, most of the riders swallowed their pride and paraded their sponsors decals around the wet track, getting a feel for the track conditions.
If it does rain again tomorrow during qualifying, the dry times listed below will stand to determine who gets into Superpole.
Sam Lowes and Broc Parkes again led the way, both being the first into the 1'39s then the first two into the 1'38s while all but Foret were still logging laps over 1'40. Cluzel, Sofuoglu, Foret and Toth look like they're going to have to fight for the remaining spots.
With what looked like it was going to be Honda and Ducatis at the top of the sheet, the last few minutes saw a clutch of BMWs joining Tom Sykes's Kawasaki at the top. With Rea and Checa being the danger men this weekend, the variety of riders and bikes shown at the top of the sheet is a breath of fresh air for fans of close racing, but not for Max Biaggi who spent the majority of the time languishing well outside the Superpole positions.
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) and Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products) set the pace early on and appeared to be in a different race to everyone else. At the thirty-minute mark, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) and Massimo Roccoli (Bike Service - WTR TEN 10) joined them in the 1'41s but Lowes had already put in a high 1'40 by then. Jules Cluzel's PTR Honda CBR600RR was 5kmh faster than the rest which helped him ease into the 1'40s in the last few minutes. Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth) was the only other rider with a 1'40, but Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) nearly managed it in the last lap. With Parkes and Lowes passing each other on the leader board, like mountaineers tied together on a cliff face, one of those two men would have to be early favourite for the pole position. Not only were they faster than the rest, they were faster sooner.
Tragedy overshadowed the World Superbike test held on the day after the Imola round of WSBK. Kawasaki rider Joan Lascorz crashed heavily between Tosa and Piratella, breaking his collarbone and shoulder blade, and fracturing his T6 vertebra. Lascorz was airlifted to the local Bologna hospital, where he underwent surgery to treat his injuries. An official statement from the team said that Lascorz was still in serious danger, and that his condition would not be known until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.
Lascorz' crash came at the end of the first session, and cast a pall over the day's proceedings, but riders still went out to test the new Pirelli tires the Italian manufacturer had brought to the track. The tires - and better weather - made a huge difference, Kawasaki's Tom Sykes smashing the outright lap record at the track using race tires, and beating his previous best set on qualifiers. Ten Kate Honda's Johnny Rea also made good strides forward, setting the 2nd fastest time, half a second behind Sykes, while Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier tested a much-improved new engine from Yoshimura, taking 3rd fastest on the day, ahead of BMW's Leon Haslam.
Results from the second World Superbike race at Imola.
Results of the World Supersport race at Imola, 2012.
Results from the first race of the World Superbikes at Imola.
Ducati have a plan to return to World Superbike racing in 2013, racing what will most likely win every bike of the year accolade for 2012: the Ducati 1199 Panigale. The 1199R was homologated for Superstock racing shortly after its release and tomorrow will be the first European Superstock 1000 race of the year where the bike will get its first shake-down.