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After overnight rain, the track was damp with a single dry line. Most of the riders were on slicks, which proved to be the right choice.
Moscow Raceway is twelve slow corners followed by a long, uphill straight with a thirteenth turn at the end. The last corner should be the scene of plenty of outbraking manoeuvres as the four cylinder bikes try to make up for sectors one and three, the Ducati friendly parts.
Unless of course it rains.
In a session plagued by a red flag and rain, the top four didn't slow down.
Moscow's first Superpole was a dry one. Qualifying tyres made more of a difference than usual and the new track threw up some surprises.
Towards the end of the session, the timing sheet was topped by Tom Sykes, then Max Biaggi and finally Jonathan Rea, before Carlos Checa put in two fast laps to the flag, one a 1'38.098, less than three hundredths off his team mate Davide Giugliano's fastest lap of the weekend so far.
Giugliano also put in a late charge, but was unable to better the times of Biaggi and Rea, their best all weekend, but Rea has given his team some work fixing his Honda before Superpole, as he had an off, dodging his team mate Hiroshi Aoyama after his fast lap.
The Hondas of Jules Cluzel and Sam Lowes once again topped the sheets ahead of Broc Parkes and Kenan Sofuoglu. With times close to the same as yesterday's qualifying, conditions held back improvements.
Predictably, it rained. It rained enough to bring out the red flags. While nobody was able to better Davide Giugliano's fastest time from yesterday, a few riders were able to pull themselves up from outside the top sixteen, securing their places in this afternoon's Superpole.
Notably, John Hopkins sneaked in to the top sixteen at the flag, while Tom Sykes and Max Biaggi squeezed in between Carlos Checa and Sylvain Guintoli.
It's not often we get to welcome a new track to a race series, but this year World Superbike gets to add the Moscow Raceway to the calendar. Nobody has raced motorbikes at this 3.9KM track before as it's only been open for six weeks. The track “goes left” or anti-clockwise and starts with a few twisty corners that, according to Marco Melandri, favour the Ducatis to the tune of four or five bike lengths. After a dozen corners, the riders then reach the 873 metre back straight where the long-legged Aprilias and BMWs can hit over 310kmh, negating there earlier advantage given to the Ducatis that can only get close to the 300kmh mark. At the end of the long straight is a sharp left hander that returns the riders to the start/finish straight, giving a fast Friday lap of 1'35 and probably Saturday laps in the 1'34 range.
Ducatis filled the top three places of qualifying with Sylvain Guintoli settling in to his new team in third place behind the Althea Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Carlos Checa. While the v-twin bikes are slower in the last sector, where the long back straight leads to a tight left hander onto the start/finish straight, the agility of the 1098R comes to play in the mass of corners making up the rest of the track.
It's hard to predict how this will play out tomorrow in Superpole, or indeed on Sunday with the races, but with three Ducatis in the top three today, if the wind isn't sapping their power down the back straight, it looks like this could be the bike to be on.
While Carlos Checa was fastest in the tests at Moscow two days ago, the Ducati was losing time down the long back straight in the windy conditions. Marco Melandri was able to record a time a tenth of a second faster than Checa's fastest testing time. The session wasn't without drama as Loris Baz and Leon Camier crashed six minutes into the session, bringing out a red flag.
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.