2014 Donington World Superbike Saturday Roundup: Wet Qualifying

The English rain was, at moments, the worst rain can be without halting proceedings. The morning's free practice was damp, with laps eleven seconds slower than Friday's times, while the wet Superpole laps were seventeen seconds slower. There were wet crashes in both Superpoles, with at least two riders being taken to be evaluated by the medical centre.

Leon Camier was the first Superpole crasher, ending his chance to qualify for Superpole 2 before he even recorded a lap. Jeremy Guarnoni was the second, and he was being evaluated after bashing his head, but there was no concussion. Niccolo Canepa went off at the Melbourne Loop, the right-hand hairpin before the last corner, and Ayrton Badovini sent himself to the medical centre after qualifying for Superpole two by losing the rear, fishtailing in the wet until it spat him off. Claudio Corti rounded off the Superpole 1 crashes with a gravel excursion.

Superpole 2 saw three crashes where all three riders rejoined the track. Sylvain Guintoli crashed at the Esses, while Jonathan Rea and Davide Giugliano, after setting the pole lap, both went off at the Melbourne Loop, Rea vertically and on his bike, Giugliano horizontally and alone.

Davide Giugliano spent the morning's damp session getting a setting for the wet and used that setting for the second pole position of his career. In spite of his crash at the end of the session, he was not hurt and will be in the best position to get the Ducati its win. Chaz Davies was plagued by a shifter problem that meant he was unable to get enough track time with a perfectly working bike to get a setting.

Leon Haslam has had his best qualifying since breaking his leg last year. His extensive local knowledge, plus a good wet setting, got him into second place on the grid. His dry qualifying, however, was not as good. Jonathan Rea scuppered his front row chances when he crashed, relinquishing his top position. For him to retain his title lead, he will need a bit of luck as he has not yet found a good setting, mentioning engine braking once again.

Third place man, Marco Melandri, was an unexpected front-row starter, even though he has a good reputation at Donington. With everyone missing a decent setting, it allowed Melandri, lacking confidence in his settings all year, to ride at the same level as everyone else. Sylvain Guintoli, who usually lives up to the stereotype of French riders being fast in the rain, lost his top place with a crash, ending his ability, like Rea, to progress with the rest of the field.

Alex Lowes, British Superbike champion, won both races at Donington on his way to the title. All weekend he has been making his bike look good while Eugene Laverty reminds us that it's not quite there yet.

Loris Baz out-qualified his teammate Tom Sykes, and is confident in his wet setup. Baz's dry setup is also very good, and he is likely to do well on Sunday. Sykes's poor qualifying is a ray of hope for Jonathan Rea's title lead.

World Supersport qualifying was in even worse conditions, and Michael Van Der Mark's last-minute grabbing of pole position from Kenan Sofuoglu shows that mere weather isn't going to stop his charge. 

The weather on Sunday is still very much an unknown, with showers arriving and departing rapidly all day Saturday, reminding us how it is impossible to schedule races according to the weather.

Round Number: 
5
2014
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