Latest World Superbike Results
One of the paddock's worst-kept secrets was the cancellation of the Portimao round at the end of the 2012 World Superbike championship. Luckily for fans of the Portugese circuit, the track was confirmed as definitely being on the calendar, as the financial penalties for its not being held were greater than the costs. This, however, wasn't the biggest rumour to hit the paddock as, fresh on the heels of Ben Spies being almost certain to join the BWM Motorrad Italia team next year alongside Marco Melandri, we were treated with hints that Valentino Rossi would possibly be joining the Superbike paddock on a Yamaha in 2015.
The sun came out at Silverstone and started drying the track. As most riders rushed out to check the conditions, Tom Sykes held back a few minutes before taking to the track and taking control of the session. Carlos Checa set early fast times on his Althea Ducati, along with the Effenbert Liberty Ducatis of Jakub Smrz and Maxime Berger. PATA Ducati's fresh signing, Sylvain Guintoli, joined them at the top, showing that, unless you're Sykes, the Ducati is the bike to have in these conditions, at this track.
With tomorrow's weather forecast showing potentially worse weather than today, this qualifying session was more important than usual as provisional positions set here could count as final places for the race start. The weather was typical Silverstone; grey and damp, but lacking the punishing wind this track sometimes brings.
Jules Cluzel, in the dying minutes, put in a lap over a second faster than the rest of the field, assuring him of provisional pole ahead of Sam Lowes. Kenan Sofuoglu and Lowes were the only riders to get close to Cluzel's time with fourth placed Alex Baldolini over three seconds behind.
Carlos Checa, double-winner last year, led the session ahead of Tom Sykes until the rain sent everyone to the pits. While a few riders ventured out on wet tyres, that was effectively the end of the session. Two notable returnees to the paddock, Sylvain Guintoli and Brett McCormick, both got track time.
The morning free-practice was run in dry and cool conditions and was dominated by an upbeat Sam Lowes. In the first session, Lowes was just over a second slower than David Salom's 2011 lap record, and over half a second faster than Ronan Quarmby and Broc Parkes, also on Hondas. Sofuoglu in 6th was the fastest Kawasaki.
Brno is one of the widest tracks on the calendar and is a track that doesn't favour a particular manufacturer. The width gives riders plenty of opportunities to pass, and offers more than one line around corners, but nobody was expecting the sheer variety of trajectories taken in the opening laps of the first World Superbike race.
Race Two at Brno would be a dry race with no risk of rain and World Superbikes gifted us with a great race to the flag.
World Supersport started with Fabien Foret's bike taking a nap on the starting grid, just before the warm-up lap. After the race was started, with Cluzel taking the lead, it was red flagged before the first lap was completed as a bike crashed on the grid. Suspicions that the crash may have been caused by Foret's fallen bike leaking on the grid were unfounded as InFront technicians checked the track after the bike fell, implying that there was no loose fluid left behind.
After overnight rain and a very wet Superstock race, there was no chance that it would be declared a dry race, even though almost everyone judged it dry enough for full slicks. The first few laps looked like they would be damp, but the teams considered that it would dry out very quickly.
On a track with elevations that should suit the more horsey four-cylinders, the amount of time that bikes spend on their sides means that it also suits the thumpy twins. Cold weather coupled with splashes of rain meant that it was going to be an interesting and unusual day qualifying, but nobody predicted just how unusual.
Results of World Supersports qualifying at Brno:
Davide Giugliano was fastest again ahead of his Althea Ducati team mate Carlos Checa. Qualifier extraordinaire Tom Sykes was unable to match his morning's time, but with three riders under 2'00, Superpole is wide open.
The track had drops of rain in the first sector at the start of the session, but appears to have cleared up quickly.
Kenan Sofuoglu lead Fabien Foret ahead of four Hondas. The Kawasaki riders were the only riders able to lap under 2'04 today, ending Friday's Honda dominance of the top spots. With Jules Cluzel and Sam Lowes unable to go faster than they did yesterday, qualifying could be split across the two manufacturers.
With cold weather and threatening rain, for the majority of the qualifying session, few riders were able to improve on their qualifying times from yesterday. However, as the sunshine came out and conditions settled, with minutes to go, Tom Sykes took provisional pole, beating Davide Giugliano's time from yesterday, a time that stood throughout most of the session, by one hundredth of a second.
Carlos Checa was the only other rider to break under the two minute barrier today.