Donington, Great Britain
2014 World Superbike, World Supersport and FIM Superstock 1000 calendar (provisional)
At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.
The season kicks off as always in Australia, the World Superbike and World Supersport classes headed to the Phillip Island circuit for the opener on 23rd of February. There follows another WSBK tradition: the interminable wait for round 2. In 2014, there are seven weeks between the first and second rounds, with the second event taking place at the Motorland Aragon circuit just outside of Alcañiz. The WSBK circus then takes off for a tour through Europe, heading to Assen, Imola and Donington Park, before heading overseas again to Sepang, and a Malaysian round. Two rounds in Europ follow, at Misano and Portimao, before the World Superbike class heads to Laguna Seca, taking the slot vacated by the MotoGP class.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the races at Donington Park:
The reduced grid in World Superbike really shows up when one or two riders are injured and cannot race. Losing both Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa from the competition today hammered home the reasoning behind Dorna's proposed financial limiting, especially after the predictable departure of Effenbert Liberty Racing. Seventeen riders competed for points in the second race, meaning only two of them wouldn't score points. With the good weather, there were luckily very few DNFs, which would have made it look even worse. When MotoGP was in this position, defibrillators were charged, flags were run up poles, mourners wailed and changes were forced through for the good of the sport. World Superbike is getting close to this stage and something needs to be done.
The ever-reducing grid was dealt another blow for race two as Carlos Checa decided, after his poor performance this morning, to sit the second race out, joining Leon Haslam on the scratch bench.
World Supersport benefits from the sheer volume of riders on near equal machinery and varying levels of skill. Normally, this means that the racing is cut and thrust and close, front to back.
Leon Haslam was withdrawn from the race by his team. It was obvious Haslam wanted to race, but cooler heads prevailed, taking the decision away from the rider. The good weather we were promised turned up and gave us the closest to a processional race that Superbikes can give us.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams and the series organizer after qualifying at Donington Park:
Jules Cluzel set the outright lap record at Donington last year with a 1'30.931. With the conditions as good and the competition as high, the question was how many would be able to beat it today.
Glorious English sunshine ensured that Superpole would come down to the riders and their bikes, without the added chaotic element weather can bring.
In predictable fashion, Tom Sykes once again puts a gap between himself and the rest as he edges ever closer to the outright lap record. Once the qualifier tyres go on, that gap should disappear altogether. One second covers from second to thirteenth place, with Marco Melandri and Jonathan Rea managing to beat the Aprilias.
Once again, Sam Lowes put himself on the top of the timing sheet ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu, and did so with an outright lap record of 1'30.903, three tenths quicker than that set by Jules Cluzel last year in qualifying. Jack Kennedy continues his good qualifying form, while title contenders Fabien Foret and Michael Van Der Mark languished in 23rd and 10th respectively.
Tom Sykes, enjoying glorious British weather, slotted into his favourite spot and claimed provisional pole. The Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli were very quick from the off, demonstrating the sort of times we'd have had yesterday with better weather, but Eugene Laverty wouldn't do much improving throughout the session. It was left to Leon Camier, the former British Superbike champion demonstrating his experience on the track, to take the last provisional front row. With half a second covering second place back to Jonathan Rea in eighth, it may be reasonably safe to assume who will qualify for the last Superpole session, but the order in which they finish is a lot more mutable.