2012 WSBK Monza Friday Round Up

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.

If Laverty hadn't pipped Ayrton Badovini by under a tenth of a second, it would have been four BMWs on the provisional front row. Instead, he had to settle for a strong fifth place ahead of Kawasaki's Tom Sykes. Sykes looks in danger of missing pole position for the first time, but the weather may still play a factor in that tomorrow.

Championship leader Max Biaggi rode his Aprilia to half a second off the fastest time, ahead of Chaz Davies's Aprilia and half a second faster than his chief rival, Carlos Checa, who languished off the pace for most of the day.

Checa was able to pull a fast lap out of the bag at the end of the qualifying session to finally eke past his team-mate Davide Giugliano who quietly sat in the top 8 for most of the qualifying session, having to settle for 10th. In 11th place was Jonathan Rea who was exceedingly fast in the morning but unable to capitalise on that in the afternoon. Last place on the provisional third row was an upbeat John Hopkins on a bike that was outclassed at the outright speed track that is Monza. It's his first visit to the track, but it's debatable he has the bike to fight at the front.

On the subject of bikes, if you're not on a factory Ducati, by which I mean an Althea Ducati, you're in trouble. Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz were behind Camier's Suzuki and Salom's Kawasaki and ahead of three other Ducatis who all struggled. The bike to be on is a BMW or an Aprilia, unless you're Sykes of course.

In World Supersport, Sam Lowes on a Honda CBR600RR led both sessions, and set a blistering time ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and three other Kawasaki ZX-6Rs. Surprisingly, the two fastest Hondas in a straight line, those of Jules Cluzel and Imre Toth who posted a few 290kmh+ speeds, ended in 10th and 11th, showing that you need a bit more than just outright speed in this class. Could this be the time Sam Lowes converts qualifying dominance into a win? With rain possible, yet with Lorenzo Lanzi shockingly absent, Sunday will be unpredictable.

Tomorrow, the weather predictions are for gloomy, but probably not wet, with temperatures around 16C. One prediction I will make though, is that straight-line speed will matter. It's Monza, after all.

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From the lap times, we can see the top seven riders are all under Crutchlow's 2010 (Yamaha) lap record, which is 1:42.937s So, has there been a change in the track, re-surfacing or are they using the new Pirelli?