Rain at Magny-Cours could play a part in determining the championship, but it will most likely push the decider to the last round. Sylvain Guintoli on provisional pole, after a title-scuppering brace of fifth places at Laguna Seca, needs to beat both Tom Sykes and his own teammate Eugene Laverty if he’s to lift the trophy at the end of the year, and it’s not easy to see from today’s form if that is on the cards, but his fast time came after only six laps on slicks and it’s not known how his shoulder injury will affect the race.
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In a wet session that only had drops of rain at the beginning, Sylvain Guintoli was fastest by over a third of a second, ahead of Tom Sykes. With unpredictable weather promised all weekend, the championship will likely not be decided this weekend.
The session, much drier than this morning, ended with Sam Lowes fastest, while Kenan Sofuoglu missed out on the last few minutes with a technical problem, ceding the provisional pole position to the man likely to win the title on Sunday. If it rains tomorrow, these positions are unlikely to be changed in the second timed session.
Michel Fabrizio ended the wet session fastest, but French Suzuki riders Jules Cluzel and Vincent Phillipe, replacing Leon Camier, both had their times at the top, along with Sylvain Guintoli. The wet track meant the fastest time was still six seconds off what could be done in the dry.
Kenan Sofuoglu was fastest in a wet track. Conditions improved toward the end, but he was still over 13 seconds off lap record pace. Sam Lowes and Michael Van Der Mark were the only riders within two seconds of Sofuoglu.
The last world championship race of the weekend would prove as important for the title chase as was expected.
The race start looked like Sylvain Guintoli would copy his start from the first two races yesterday, but both Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes got the power translated into forward movement better than the Frenchman, with Laverty leading Sykes into the first turn. Guintoli slotted into third place ahead of Niccolo Canepa, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies. Try as he might, though, Guintoli couldn’t pass Sykes on the first lap.
World Superbike at Laguna Seca was always going to be unusual, with a race on Saturday and the other a day later on Sunday. How unusual exactly was not expected. The bikes were finally wheeled into scrutineering over two hours after they were first put out on the grid.
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.
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.