Latest World Superbike Results
With the combination of mixed conditions and a naturally fast track causing wet tyres to discard chunks of rubber down the 330kmh straight, qualifying at Monza was destined to be unpredictable.
World Superstock qualifying was declared a wet session.
Like last weekend at Assen, it's a wet Superpole. Two 20-minute sessions, sixteen riders in the first session and the top eight in the second. The track was most noticeably damp in the Parabolica, the 180-degree last corner, but most of the chicanes appeared to be more challenging than usual.
A white flag with a red cross was out for most of the session, indicating rain on certain portions of the track.
Maxime Berger did what looked impossible at one point; he put a Ducati at the top of the timing sheet for quite a few minutes as he was the only rider circulating for a good ten minutes, with only the visiting Sergio Gadea putting in anywhere close to as many laps as Berger.
As the track dried, normal service was resumed with Tom Sykes, Leon Haslam and Max Biaggi kicking Jakub Smrz off the top spot. Sykes recorded an incredible 339.5kmh top speed on his way to the top. Riders seemed confident enough to risk their bikes to get a good setting in spite of the single bike rule that would punish a crash harshly. Eugene Laverty, Jakub Smrz, Max Biaggi, Chaz Davies and John Hopkins all crashed out (Rider OK), as everyone else pitted in for the last few minutes; the rain had returned with a vengeance.
One weekend, we will be able to talk about the racing without mentioning the weather. One weekend, but not this one.
Broc Parkes heads to qualifying with the best practice time while Jules Cluzel makes a welcome appearance near the top of the sheets. Sam Lowes doesn't go faster than yesterday, but was still third fastest. Kenan Sofuoglu was fastest throughout the earlier part of the session and seems to have a better setup for mutable conditions.
Cruciani gets an impressive 5th again, but with the patchy skies and probable rain, we're left wondering why nobody called Lorenzo Lanzi.
After overnight rain, riders were not eager to get out on the drying track. Eventually, a few laps were put in to get settings and data, but nobody improved on their times from yesterday.
Today, the weather behaved itself and let Monza be the speed-trap it was designed to be. Michel Fabrizio's provisional pole lap time on his BMW included a 334.8kmh (209mph) dash through the speed trap, equalling the previous fastest time of Max Biaggi's damned fast Aprilia, and BMWs ruled the roost all day. Marco Melandri and Leon Haslam spend most of the qualifying session at the sharp end, duelling on paper with Tom Sykes, who lost out top non-BMW to Aprilia's Eugene Laverty.
This afternoon's qualifying carried on from this morning, with riders putting in faster times within just a couple of laps. Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes clawed past each other into the 1'42s. The Aprilias of Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty were, unlike earlier, in the mix from an early stage, along with the BMWs of Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio.
What followed was a demonstration of how important having the right machinery is for Monza, unless you're Tom Sykes, of course. If you didn't have a BMW or an Aprilia, you weren't in the running to beat Sykes.
Michel Fabrizio (BMW) took top honours, beating Melandri (BMW) and Haslam (BMW) to provisional pole. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) completed the provisional front row with the second row being Ayrton Badovini (BMW), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Max Biaggi (Aprilia) and Chaz Davies (Aprilia), finally showing form.
Again, Sam Lowes was the first rider into the 1'48s, but it was Kenan Sofuoglu who topped the charts until the last second when Lowes pulled a rabbit out of the hat, just catching one last lap at the end of the session, and set a 1'47.601, faster than last year's pole position, after the flag was out.
Sheridan Morais and Fabien Foret fill the remaining provisional front row spots with Kawasakis while Stefano Cruciani followed up this morning's excellent fifth place with another one.
This time last year, Jonathan Rea walked away from the Friday free practice session with the fastest time, ahead of a handful of BMWs. He wouldn't be so lucky against the German machines this time round.
BMW staked their claim early on in the first free session, with Marco Melandri and Leon Haslam defending the top two spots ahead of the king of qualifying, Tom Sykes. Michel Fabrizio joined them the end, making it three BMWs in the top three places. Fast men Sykes and Rea were joined by the Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Max Biaggi to round out the top 8.
With four BMWs in the top 6 for the majority of the session, it seems that a fast bike is the bike to have on a fast track.
After a red flag on the first out lap delayed a proper start, Sam Lowes and Broc Parkes settled into the top two places, joined by Jules Cluzel's fast CBR600 and Kenan Sofuoglu on the Kawasaki in the early part of the session. Sam Lowes was the first rider into the 1'49s, then the first into the 1'48s, where he was eventually joined by Fabien Foret and Broc Parkes. Last year's pole position was an astounding 1'47.809 by Chaz Davies, but tellingly, Sam Lowes was in second place, having to wait until Saturday before he could set a 1'48 lap; a 1'48.051. These are the yardsticks for this weekend's qualifying.
A round-up of the day's events at the Assen round of World Superbikes.
World Supersport at Assen provides a tense race in the wet.
If you've been following qualifying at Assen, you'll notice that the weather has been central to everything. Set-up time lost to rain, bikes lost to lack of adhesion, everyone went into race one somewhat underprepared. This made for an exciting and brutal race.