Before we quickly gloss over the inevitable mention of the weather, it would be unfair not to mention the current reason for the increase in popcorn sales in the Superbike paddock. Jakub Smrz put his Effenbert-sponsored Ducati on provisional pole while his sponsor's future is uncertain. After a rather odd press release that seems to have been written while angry at one of their bikes braking down on the warm up lap at Monza, the Czech brewer refused to bring their hospitality suite to Donington.
Jakub Smrz returns to his familiar place at the top of the timing sheets ahead of Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa. Rain threatened the session, but luckily didn't stay around for long enough to be too much of a problem.
Sam Lowes keeps the pressure on and is almost a second faster than Kenan Sofuoglu in the first qualifying session. Last week's race winner Jules Cluzel is third ahead of Australian Glen Richards, riding as a British Supersport wildcard. While the temperature is dropping, it looks like we may end up with our first dry weekend in a while.
Tom Sykes opens the World Superbikes practice at Donington with a 1'30.756
As has been the case every weekend this year, Sam Lowes leads the way in Free Practice. This weekend, he's over a second faster so far.
Jack Valentine, team manager at Crescent FIXI Suzuki, has announced that a last-minute replacement for John Hopkins has been found. After struggling to find anyone from the BSB series that was able to fill the seat, Peter Hickman, MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider in the British series, was revealed as Hopkins's replacement the night before the riders first took to the track for the weekend.
In one of the oddest press releases we have ever received at MotoMatters (though well short of the Liberty press release issued a day or so ago), Paul Bird Motorsport has denied rumors - started by team owner Paul Bird himself - that Shane Byrne is to replace James Ellison in PBM's MotoGP team. Bird told Bikesportnews at the BSB round at Oulton Park that Byrne would be replacing Ellison at Le Mans, "to get a second opinion".
Effenbert Liberty Racing have decided not to bring their hospitality suite, the largest in the paddock, to the European World Superbike round at Donington. While Liberty Racing will support Sylvain Guintoli, Jakub Smrž and Maxime Berger this weekend, they will do so without their sponsor's hospitality.
They say they are doing this as a protest against what they believe was favouritism shown by the WSBK organisers towards certain riders at the weather-beleaguered World Superbike round at Monza last weekend.
Crescent Fixi Suzuki have announced that John Hopkins is to miss the Donington round of World Superbikes, after breaking his foot in a crash at Monza. A replacement rider is due to be announced shortly. Below is the press release from the Crescent Fixi Suzuki team:
HOPKINS TO MISS DONINGTON WSB
Team Suzuki Press Office - May 9.
Crescent FIXI Suzuki's John Hopkins will be forced to miss this weekend's World Superbike race at Donington in England due to the injuries he sustained in a high-speed crash last time out at Monza.
Chris Vermeulen has been named as the replacement for Colin Edwards in the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team for the Le Mans round of MotoGP. Edwards broke his left collarbone in a crash during free practice at Estoril, and has decided after surgery to skip the French Grand Prix and return at Barcelona in early June.
One of the most fascinating areas of MotoGP is the relationship between rider and crew chief. The way that those two individuals communcate and interact can be the difference between winning championships and riding around in mid-pack. Riders need a massive amount of talent to go fast, but they also need to understand what the bike is doing underneath them and be able to communicate that to their chief engineer.
Colin Edwards has successfully undergone surgery to fix the collarbone he broke at Estoril. The NGM Forward Racing rider had a titanium plate inserted by Dr Javier Mir in Barcelona, to fix the left collarbone he fractured during practice in Portugal. The surgery has been ajudged a success, and the Texan will now undergo a period of recovery.
Bridgestone issued the following press release after the MotoGP race at Estoril, in which Shinji Aoki discusses how the weather affected tire choice and how the new front tire performed:
Estoril MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Round 3: Portuguese MotoGP™ - Post-race debrief
Circuito do Estoril, Tuesday 8 May 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric).
Bridgestone wet compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative).
After three days of improving weather, the rain returned to Estoril with a vengeance, falling heavily all Sunday night and throughout the morning on Monday. Conditions at the circuit were simply too difficult to do any testing at all, and so the MotoGP test scheduled for Monday was officially canceled, sending the teams packing up early, a thankless task in the pouring rain.