After seven weeks of absence, World Superbike is back. In the interim period, we've lost one team, one factory and one round, and the silly season rumour mill has started back up.
As mentioned here, Mahi racing have given up on racing, with Fabien Foret walking away from World Superbike and Kenan Sofuoglu moving to San Carlo Puccetti Racing for the remainder of the season. Sofuoglu was already ruled out of the title when the South African round was cancelled, leaving only 75 points up for grabs when he was 77 behind Michael van der Mark. Foret isn't the only rider not to be on the entry list, as Bimota have been suspended for not making enough bikes, leaving both Christian Iddon and Ayrton Badovini without a ride until Bimota make 125 bikes.
Loris Baz was quickest today, mastering the warmer temperatures in the afternoon's session, but all ten of the fastest riders were within four tenths of a second of his time, showing that qualifying will be a close affair. Alessandro Andreozzi, the fastest of the Evo bikes, was 1.3 seconds off the pole pace.
The championship has only 150 points left over three rounds, which leaves Tom Sykes (325 points), Sylvain Guintoli (281 points), Jonathan Rea (261 points), Loris Baz (253 points) and Marco Melandri (217 points) mathematically able to win the title.
World Supersport has 75 points left, with Michael van der Mark, (160 points), Jules Cluzel (107 points) and Florian Marino (93 points) still in the running, but Van der Mark, quickest in both sessions today, could tie up the title on Sunday by finishing ahead of Cluzel and Marino.