Latest World Superbike Results
That Carlos Checa, double-winner here last year, would dominate the qualifying session was not a surprise, nor was the fact previous winners Jonathan Rea and Max Biaggi were up top as well. That Sam Lowes would lead a very familiar-looking provisional front row in World Supersports was also not a surprise, considering this year's form. For surprises in today's sessions, we have to look further back in the pack, like seeing Tom Sykes not being the fastest Kawasaki in either session.
In the first qualifying session, Carlos Checa staked his claim on provisional pole very early on, half a second faster than pole-ninja Tom Sykes by the halfway mark. Towards the end, Jonathan Rea got very close to Checa's time, but nobody could beat it.
Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri and Davide Giugliano gave the locals something to cheer about in 3rd, 4th and 5th ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and Loris Baz, fastest Kawasaki of the day.
After Jules Cluzel and Sam Lowes banked a brace of 1'39s, a few drops of rain were reported in the first half of the track, but this didn't slow anyone down. Broc Parkes split the pair with 13 minutes remaining, beating his time set this morning, shortly followed by Kenan Sofuoglu.
These four then swapped places for the remaining times, while Stefano Cruciani and Fabien Foret dipped their toes in the 1'39s, both beating the fastest time set this morning.
At the flag, Sam Lowes grabbed provisional pole time with a lap time of 1'38.987, a quarter of a second clear of Kenan Sofuoglu.
In a dry session where last year's double-winner, Carlos Checa, topped the timing sheet for most of the period, Sylvain Guintoli was never far behind, and eventually took the lead, posting fastest lap after fastest lap. With four minutes left, Checa posted the first 1'36 of the day while Guintoli pitted in. Marco Melandri sneaked up to the front and then took top spot ahead of three Ducatis.
Surprises of the day were Niccolo Canepa and Leon Camier taking 4th and 5th fastest times and David Salom being fastest Kawasaki.
Misano was a little overcast but dry. It didn't take long for the usual suspects to post the faster times. Ten minutes in and last year's winner Broc Parkes, Sam Lowes and Kenan Sofuoglu were the fastest men on track, and the first into the 1'41s.
Ronan Quarmby and Jules Cluzel managed similar times shortly after. When Fabien Foret joined the top men in the 1'41s, Lowes and Sofuoglu bumped it up a notch and settled into the 1'40s where they were promptly joined by Parkes and Cluzel.
With a few minutes remaining, Lowes and Parkes both posted 1'39s, but it would be Broc Parkes that took the fastest time of the session with a 1'39.902.
The weekend in the US opened with the resurgence of the weather. Rain was back in the forecasts and it looked like being another of those weekends. Saturday's opening free practice, a day later than usual due to the race taking part on Memorial Day, started in an unholy downpour that dampened everyone's enthusiasm. This rain was swapped for wind in the afternoon, but the climate returned to slightly colder than usual dry weather for Sunday. The Monday weather was not even a factor, with less wind than before and no rain.
Miller Motorsports Park is a high-altitude track that saps roughly 10bhp off the bikes races in World Superbikes. The track features the longest straight in the US and so many short dashes between corners that overtaking anywhere other than the end of the start/finish straight is nigh on impossible. The straight is such a feature, the race organisers offered a bounty on the first rider to break the 200mph barrier. Unfortunately, this prize would be unclaimed after the weekend was over, even though the Aprilias and BMWs got very close.
Race Two was stopped after three complete laps and restarted after a crash that left fluids on the track.
On a dry race, nobody claimed the 200mph (320kmh) prize offered by the circuit, but not for a lack of trying: Three riders managed a 319.2kmh.
Carlos Checa is good around Miller Motorsports Park. It suits his style and it suits his bike. Going into Superpole, he was a firm favourite to be on the front row, along with top qualifiers Jakub Smrz and Tom Sykes. With the morning qualifying starting off cold and damp and the afternoon practice being just as cold, if not as damp, it would be safe to assume that the faster riders in those sessions would do equally as well in Superpole.
A dry Superpole gave us three sessions.
Carlos Checa set the fastest lap of the weekend before crashing out while Jakub Smrz, out on a fast lap, also crashes before managing to top Checa. Jonathan Rea sets consistent quick laps early on, showing good race pace and Marco Melandri, the fastest bike in a straight line this weekend, also goes well, followed by Sylvain Guintoli.
Davide Giugliano and Sylvain Guintoli make the most of the fact this track is kind to Ducatis while Leon Camier shows his speed far too late to qualify for Superpole. Surprisingly, Sykes only managed 8th place, suggesting he was testing race settings for his 18 laps of free practice.
This session started slowly, with a damp, patchy track. Riders were able to post fast times in the first sector, but the conditions meant the remaining sectors slowed them down to longer times than yesterday. Only towards the end of the session did riders start to put in faster laps than in the first timed session.
It was important to get data for settings and a top 16 time more than it was to get the outright fastest lap, but even then, Jakub Smrz worked hard to keep the provisional pole, even though Carlos Checa tried really hard to take it off him. Two tenths separated the only two men in the 1'48s.
The losers today were Ayrton Badovini, Leon Camier and David Salom, who were both pushed from the top 16, and therefore Superpole, by a resurgent John Hopkins, finally showing form with a provisional second-row place, Niccolo Canepa and Lorenzo Zanetti.
Miller Motorsports Park in the US took the role of high altitude track off South Africa's Kyalami, providing racing against a backdrop of spectacular mountains with the thinner air sapping power off the bikes like no other track on the calendar.
The race is held on Monday, instead of the usual Sunday, to give the US fans three days of Memorial Day holiday weekend packed with AMA Pro and World Superbike races. The World Supersport championship doesn't race this weekend.
For the last three years, whoever did the double at Miller won the title, and last year that was Carlos Checa who has been quick throughout qualifying. Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes, the men leading the championship, did not fare as well today, with Biaggi only managing four laps in the morning's waterlogged free practice session and Sykes crashing halfway through the windy qualifying session in the afternoon. Jakub Smrz was fastest when it was wet and fastest again when it was dry, showing us, as he does almost every weekend, that the man can qualify. Biaggi did make up for his poor morning session with a decent fourth place, ahead of the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Sylvain Guintoli, but behind Marco Melandri's BMW.
Jakub Smrz just edged out last year's double winner Carlos Checa out of provisional pole while Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi took the remaining spots on the provisional front row
It was a dry session, but with a headwind down the start/finish straight that sapped the bikes of their top speed and stability.
In what continues to be a theme for 2012, another weekend's racing opens with wet weather. Jakub Smrz was consistently one of the faster men throughout the session and, on his last lap to the chequered flag, he was over two seconds faster than everyone else.
The first 30 minutes, most riders were lapping around 2'11 until the rain eased off a little, and at the end, everyone started putting in faster laps.