Moscow is more like a national circuit than an international world championship venue. It’s a short track in character, in spite of the long back straight that leads to the last corner, offering a last chance passing place.
Sylvain Guintoli tweeted photos of X-rays of his shoulder as he left for Moscow. A bicycle accident resulted in a dislocated collarbone, giving him a huge handicap for the weekend. The collarbone is effectively a shock absorber for the arms, and a dislocated one will hurt whenever you use your arms, a painful disadvantage for motorcycle racers who put a large amount of force through their arms. With a track of this character, injuries will be accentuated, which will likely rule Guintoli out of a chance of wins.
Tom Sykes leads the championship for the first time in his career, even with the shadow of appeal looming over it. Aprilia are waiting for the results of their appeal over the ruling of Sykes’s off-track excursion at Monza. Guintoli’s six point defect behind the Englishman would be reduced to zero points if the appeal goes in his favour, although with Sykes having the greater number of wins, the tiebreaker would be in his favour and the lead would rest with him.
The revelation of today’s sessions has been Davide Giugliano. While Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri have shared top spot honours, as well as having a win each here last year, Giugliano has embarrassed the factory Aprilias in both sessions with a brace of second places. With Carlos Checa on the Ducati Panigale in the top four as well, fortunes seem to be changing. Eugene Laverty is still within striking distance of the championship, but if Checa’s bike is finally working well, having had the inlet restrictions reduced and three weeks to sort the electronics to deal with the increased airflow, another player may have returned to the game.
In World Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu and Sam Lowes are keeping the heat on in their title fight, with both of them having lead a session. Lowes has the advantage of a teammate who, in front of his home crowd, in a Russian team, has something to prove.
Qualifying on Saturday may show the regular suspects at the sharp end, but on a track like this, the times will be close and there are surprises to be had.