The FIM rulebook was once again brought in to deal with the weather that hit Superpole. Wet sessions are easy and dry sessions are easy. Superpoles where the weather changes between sessions are easy. What happened today was that rain arrived in the middle of Superpole 3 and that’s where section 1.16.3 “Specific weather conditions during Superpole” comes into play.
The rules when a dry session is interrupted by a red flag for rain state that there is a ten minute break and that the nine remaining riders then take part in a twenty minute wet session. What the rules don’t state explicitly is that the red flagged session is invalidated. What the rules also don’t clarify is that the astounding pole position record-breaking lap never hits the record books. While these two cases aren’t stated, they are both implemented, much to the dismay of riders and fans.
Tom Sykes was bitten earlier in the year when his pole position lap was invalidated by a red flag, but as it wasn’t for rain, everyone else’s laps still stood, and Sykes was able to get out and use a used race tyre to set an even faster lap. Today, seconds after Sykes had crossed the line of what may be the most impressive lap a Superbike has ever recorded around Silverstone, the white flag with a red diagonal cross was help up with an accompanying red flag. Rain was spotted on the track somewhere and the ten minute session was cancelled halfway through. If they had done half distance, if all the riders had or had not recorded a lap, none of this mattered as the session was invalidated immediately when the two flags appeared.
The wet session started dry, allowing most riders to get laps in, but it didn’t take long for the rain to turn up, even though nobody even considered wet weather tyres at any point. The rain didn’t stay long and, it stayed just long enough to ruin Tom Sykes’s first flying lap, forcing him to abort it. Past sixteen minutes in, the rain subsided.
When the rain stopped, Eugene Laverty took advantage of the dried track and got his first World Superbike pole position, for which he had been waiting a while. The riders that headed out in the last three minutes all realised that the track was dry enough to attempt a lap, even if that had not been the plan when they left pit lane; Jonathan Rea, for instance, went out to practice his start and came back with a front-row slot and Carlos Checa only went out because he saw other riders doing it and he came back with a second place start. Loris Baz and Tom Sykes, both of whom broke John Hopkins’s qualifying record before having their laps annulled, were able to salvage fourth and fifth places respectively, but they can both consider their places a poor consolation after their days’ performance.
The delayed World Supersport qualifying was dry from beginning to end and gave Sam Lowes the opportunity to finally dial in his settings and get pole position ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu, who until this session looked to have the upper hand. Lowes then crashed his bike, giving his team some extra work as a reward for their hard work. Local man Christian Iddon put his three-cylinder MV Agusta in third place, the bike’s first front row position.
With the Superbike grid a little mixed up, with Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri missing out on qualifying laps due to technical issues and Davide Giugliano crashing before Superpole 3, the first lap could be a bit messy. Riders will also need to adjust their starts as the start line has been moved back to the old pit lane, away from the Silverstone Wing. While the new facilities are better for teams, the location of the Wing made the paddock inaccessible to the public. Hopefully, with good weather ahead, the public will take advantage of the relocation and make the journey to the track.