Latest World Superbike Results
Continuing on from the Moscow test this week, the riders kept improving on their times from Wednesday, but the order didn't change much. Sam Lowes and Jules Cluzel were within two-tenths of a second of their test times and topped this sheet as they did the testing sessions. Kenan Sofuoglu also improved, but Broc Parkes couldn't find the form he had two days ago and was two tenths slower.
Silverstone is a large, flat track at the top of a flattened hill, which makes it an ideal airfield, but a weather-prone race track. With a thunderstorm happening in the vicinity, the riders in both World Superbikes and World Supersport were punished by rain-lashed races in treacherous conditions.
In the first race, it started off dry but when David Johnson and Norino Brignola crashed, the red flags came out. The rules state that if a race is halted for climatic reasons, the restart must be declared a wet race, meaning it could not be stopped a second time by Race Direction if the weather turns for the worse. A dangerous situation then ensued, with all but two riders on slick tyres competing in a race that was going to get a lot wetter.
With the rain falling before the start of the race, the race was declared wet and the distance was reduced to 17 laps to allow for the extra time to change the bikes to their wet configurations.
Like the first Superbike race, the race was red-flagged after the first lap and restarted as a wet race.
Race one was red flagged on the first lap due to a crash caused by rain. The restart was declared a wet race and led to one of the most unusual races so far.
It feels like it could be getting tedious to open what seems like every World Superbike round up this year with talk about the weather, but it has become a major factor in qualifying, if not racing, in 2012.
Every session of Superbike qualifying and practice this weekend has been hit by rain, with sessions being either getting wetter or getting dryer. Consistency has been lacking in all but this afternoon's free practice, with the track either getting wetter or dryer, with standing water hampering several sessions. The rain was tempered with sunshine that burned the light covering off quickly but left stretches of water in the heavier areas, giving the track uneven conditions that caught quite a few riders out in Superpole.
Pole position in World Supersport would have got you into the final Superpole session in World Superbike. Conditions were still wet and dangerous, but by no means as bad as they were in the larger class.
Superpole was, unsurprisingly, wet. Two twenty-minute sessions, with only eight riders able to qualify for the second round in with tricky conditions.
In the first full dry session of the weekend, with rain only making an ineffectual appearance 35 seconds from the flag, Leon Camier continued his good form with the session's fastest time, ahead of Jakub Smrz. Tom Sykes and Carlos Checa maintained their pace with third and fourth fastest times respectively, while rookie Loris Baz just pipped a confident-looking John Hopkins.
Max Biaggi had a crash which looked reminiscent of Randy Mamola's famous rodeo save, only without the save at the end, finishing his practice session and putting him behind his title rival Marco Melandri.
Jules Cluzel sat out most of the free practice session, opting only to go out in the last few minutes on slicks while everyone else was chasing settings on wet tyres.
With so few riders doing more than a handful of laps, it's difficult to judge anything from this session.
Another dry session cut short by rain, the big names that were worried about missing Superpole had to get fast laps in before the weather turned.
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.