Taking place at an earlier time than usual, to allow the AMA races and race one, to be held at the end of today, to fit the schedule. The short track, with laps under a minute and a half, allowed for plenty of attempts at setting a fast time.
Latest World Superbike Results
Sylvain Guintoli continued to bring the fight to Tom Sykes, setting the fastest lap of the weekend, while Chaz Davies and Niccolo Canepa continued the pace they've been carrying all weekend.
World Superbike’s return to the iconic American track has a rather unusual schedule. A weekend without Superstock racing isn’t that unusual, but one without World Supersport, especially when the title is one point from being settled, is. Supported by the national AMA Superbike series, races are forced to run at unusual times, with three sessions today, including an hour-long extended timed qualifying session that allowed riders who have never seen the track before to get more familiar with its unique character.
Niccolo Canepa looked like he would hold onto provisional pole right up to the flag, but Marco Melandri stole it after the clock ran out. Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli ended the session with under two tenths of a second separating them. Roger Lee Hayden was unable to record a time due to a technical issue, while Tomi Elias managed a few laps before his bike also retired.
Eugene Laverty took the top spot off Tom Sykes only to nearly lose it to Niccolo Canepa, Carlos Checa's replacement on the Ducati Panigale. The local pair that fared so well in the morning's free practice were under four tenths of a second slower than Laverty, back in eighth and ninth places.
The BMW duo of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri posted the fastest times ahead of local Michael Jordan Motorsports riders Roger Lee Hayden and Danny Eslick. Two BMWs, two Suzukis, three Aprilias and a Kawasaki made up the top eight.
It seems that what you need to do to fill a stadium is to have a local hero that is universally loved by his compatriots. Istanbul Park had an attendance of 51,651 and it seemed they were all there for Kenan Sofuoglu. The event was the Turkish equivalent of Carl Fogarty at Brands Hatch in the 1990s, with the fans assured that their rider would be on the podium at the very least.
The last race of the World Superbike weekend was held over 18 laps at 25C in front of an emptying grandstand, the fans having come for the Supersport race.
Tom Sykes, as he did in the first race, had an excellent start, clearing off from four Aprilias and two BMWs on his Kawasaki. Sylvain Guintoli led Davide Giugliano and Eugene Laverty while Toni Elias fended off Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies.
World Supersport was a sixteen lap race with thirty four starters, but the world was only looking at two of them: A championship was very much on the line.
Sixteen riders started the eighteen lap race in 23 degree sunshine.
Tom Sykes, from pole position had what looked like his best start of the year, leading the race ahead of a trio of Aprilias and Marco Melandri. Eugene Laverty slotted into second place with Sylvain Guintoli in third. Marco Melandri wasted no time in taking fourth place off Davide Giugliano and the front four set off in the order that they would maintain throughout the majority of the race.
Carlos Checa, Leon Camier, Max Neukirchner, Loris Baz and Jonathan Rea will not be racing tomorrow. Istanbul Park and Nurburgring have sidelined five riders, leaving the grid diminished. Those who are racing, all but one of whom took part in Superpole, have missed out on track time due to poor track conditions or bad weather. And yet, the track is such a good track, and the qualifying so tight, that there is still a chance of a decent close race tomorrow, and the track looks to have been cleaned up by a combination of rain, oil, marshals, cat litter and race rubber.
World Supersport qualifying was split into two sessions, with the last part being a three minute sprint, an incident with Fabien Foret and Fabio Menghi causing the red flag to once again be unfurled.
Kenan Sofuoglu and Sam Lowes kept each other honest as they both pushed for pole position, but, as they wend into the short sprint, Sofuoglu had the advantage, and try as Lowes might, the local man was able to grab pole position. Sofuoglu took pole position off Lowes twice and off himself three times, ending the session over a second ahead of third place.
All fifteen riders who registered a qualifying lap were automatically eligible for Superpole.
The first Superpole session was topped by Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri, beating the Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano. Both wildcards, along with Vittorio Iannuzzo, were eliminated.
Eugene Laverty was the first rider to get a 1’54 lap, four tenths of a second faster than second-fastest Davide Giugliano. Toni Elias was able to get into the last session, with the ninth fastest time of the session, in spite of two near-misses exiting corners.
World Supersport’s second free practice session started on time, on a damp track. With just under twenty minutes to go, oil was trailed across the whole track and was, in some places, sitting on top of water, bringing out the red flags. As the cleanup operation was underway, it became clear that there would not be enough time after the track was safe to run the remaining nineteen minutes. Rather than throw the Superbike schedule off, it was decided to run the remainder of the session after the big bikes had been out.
Rain this morning coupled with a World Supersport bike trailing oil all around the damp track in a red-flagged session gave us a free practice session with only twelve of the sixteen available riders recording laps. Sylvain Guintoli was fastest ahead of Jules Cluzel, neither of whom could break the 2'06 barrier in the poor conditions. World Supersport free practice will resume now this session is finished.