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.
Napoleon Bonaparte, former Emperor of France and large army afficionado, once said “in war, luck is half in everything,” and this weekend, riders in both classes would understand the sentiment. While weather also played a factor on Sunday, it was increased heat instead of rain for a change.
Press releases from the series organizers, as well as the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after today's races at Imola:
The second World Superbike race at Imola was 21 uninterrupted laps in hot weather.
World Supersport planned 19 laps under a cloudless sky, and fate would roll her dice once more.
World Superbike race one, started on a warm day, with Sylvain Guintoli holding an unassailable lead in the championship with 28 points. At the very best, Tom Sykes could only hope to close the gap as passing him would be a mathematic impossibility.
With both World Supersport and World Superbike qualifying sessions red flagged, it took a little longer to determine the final grid positions for tomorrow’s races, but this didn’t stop lap records being broken and scenes being set.
In a session plagued with crashes, including a red flag for Marconi's second crash, eventually the grid was decided.
A dry session, with three 12-minute sessions to determine final grid position, with Jonathan Rea ahead of Tom Sykes and Davide Giugliano entering as the provisional front row, and not even a red flag could interfere with fate.
Jonathan Rea is the first rider of the weekend to record a 1'46 lap, leading the session ahead of Tom Sykes, in spite of an early crash. The Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty were recording similar times to their qualifying times, but reliability on the part of other riders allowed them to climb in the list. Noriyuki Haga was the slowest in the session as Alex Lundh didn't take part.
As predicted, the riders closed in to Sam Lowes's times from yesterday, but not even Lowes could beat his own qualifying time. He was still fastest overall, but Riccardo Russo continued his onslaught in second place. Kenan Sofuoglu has also started closing in to the fast times he needs to challenge Lowes.
With few riders matching their times from yesterday's timed qualifying, it came to Jonathan Rea to grab provisional pole from the King of Saturdays, Tom Sykes. Just over half the field were able to improve on their times from yesterday, but the Aprilias are still not yet on the pace. Davide Giugliano went faster than Sykes today, but was unable to beat his Friday time.
Noriyuki Haga crashed, luckily without injury, and was unable to qualify for Superpole.
Imola, the Italian track remembered as the scene of the thrilling climax to the 2002 World Superbike season. If we are to see a repeat of the duel between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss, we could need to look no further than to to Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea. These two are the riders who have been consistently able to post fast laps, dodging a field of Italians getting single hot laps in front of their home crowds.