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The last Superpole of 2012 held a few surprises with a small error of a tenth of a second or two having potential consequences for what remains of the season.
The rain stayed away all day, ensuring the World Supersport qualifying would be unhampered by weather.
The last Superpole of 2012 was a dry session.
The three men with a mathematical chance of the title were the three fastest men this afternoon, led by Marco Melandri. Carlos Checa sat most of the session out, trying to solve a problem with the bike while the man challenging his place in the championship, Jonathan Rea, was fourth fastest. Lots of long runs for most riders, as most were seeking race settings instead of qualifying settings.
John Hopkins didn't take part and, as his his hip injury is causing problems, he's decided to call it a day and won't race this weekend.
Broc Parkes topped the timing sheet above French duo of Jules Cluzel and Fabien Foret. Parkes reeled off quite a few 1'42 laps while Cluzel only managed two. Tellingly, Fabien Foret had a run of seven 1'42 laps in series after his fastest lap. Kenan Sofuoglu and Sam Lowes also put in long runs of 42s and 43s.
The morning's qualifying got underway with very little change, apart from Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam making an early showing, right up to an incident involving Alexander Lundh that stopped the proceedings with ten minutes left. Once the red flags were lifted, a flurry of activity took place with everything changing rapidly as time dwindled.
Marco Melandri, in spite of injury, beat Tom Sykes's time from yesterday to defiantly grab provisional pole ahead of this afternoon's Superpole session. Jonathan Rea and Max Biaggi posted identical times in fourth and fifth behind Carlos Checa while Tom Sykes was unable to improve on his yesterday's belter.
John Hopkins and Hiroshi Aoyama both missed out on their last Superpole chances, in spite of a grid diminished by the absence of Liberty Racing.
As this year has been wracked with weather, it only seems fitting that World Superbikes should be greeted to Magny Cours, the last racer weekend of the season, with overnight rain that left the riders at the morning's free practice sessions to duke it out on a drying track. As the day progressed, the track got drier and riders were able to start getting their elbows down at the sweeping left-handed 180 corner.
In the first timed qualifying session, Tom Sykes once again takes provisional pole with a 1'38.2, a time that beat the previous lap record by over four tenths of a second. Carlos Checa was over four tenths back in provisional second place, ahead of a recovering Marco Melandri and Davide Giugliano.
Tom Sykes was fastest throughout most of the session, able to repeatedly beat any faster times set by other riders. With Melandri's fitness in question, Sykes remains the only rider likely to challenge Max Biaggi for the title on Sunday.
Jules Cluzel took advantage of the dried out track to grab a clear provisional pole ahead of Broc Parkes and Fabien Foret in a session split by a red flag.
The sun continued to try the track after the overnight rain and lap times came down to similar times to last year. Jonathan Rea was fastest this morning, ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Camier.
Liberty Racing are notably absent, denying Brett McCormick a chance to follow up his fifth place last time out, while Maxime Berger has a ride with Red Devils Roma in place of Matteo Baiocco.
In the last race weekend of the year, the weather makes one final appearance and caused a slow session as everyone got used to the conditions. Sam Lowes was fastest, showing the form he's brought with him all year as an early riser. Kenan Sofuoglu, crowned world champion last time out, demonstrated that the title doesn't slow him down either as he pipped Jules Cluzel for second fastest.
In a weekend where championships could be determined, the weather decided once more that it needed to leave its mark. With wind and rain, the Superstock 1000 race had to be moved to late afternoon and races had to be held with only dry set up time.
Race Two was declared dry and the weather would no longer play a part in this weekend's racing.
Kenan Sofuoglu only needed to finish fourth to earn his third World Supersport title. With a damn but drying track, one would expect him to ride conservatively and take no risks. Anyone that follows Supersport racing, knows that's not what was going to happen.
The rains visited Portugal in the morning and the Superstock 1000 race was pushed back to late afternoon. Race one was run as a wet race and all but one rider started with full wet tyres.