Michel Fabrizio took second-place in qualifying and is rumored to be moving to the Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.
In what was the closest first qualifying session of the 2010 season, just 0.382 seconds separated the top- 10 at the end of Day 1 in Magny Cours. It was also a day that belonged to Ducati with three 1198’s on the front row and five in the top-eight. Imola podium man, Lorenzo Lanzi, took provisional pole onboard his DFX Ducati. Lanzi is no stranger to success at Magny Cours, having won at the French track back in 2005.
Xerox Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio started his last weekend with the team strongly by securing second- place. Fabrizio is widely rumored to be joining the Alstare Suzuki squad in a one-man team in 2011, but clearly wants to finish the 2010 season on a high note. Fabrizio is just one of the riders who will potentially be confirmed this weekend. The Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team is expected to announce their second rider in the coming days, with James Toseland, Tom Sykes and Shane Byrne all linked with the job.
Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea refused pain killers and rode well in France despite numerous injuries.
An announcement is also expected from Kawasaki as to who they will put on their third bike alongside Chris Vermeulen and Joan Lascorz in 2011. Current Kawasaki rider, Tom Sykes, remains in pole position for the ride.
One of the most significant developments of the weekend is the fact that BMW’s team manager, Davide Tardozzi, was absent from the pit box after parting company with the team after last week’s Imola race. Tardozzi was on a three year deal with the German manufacturer, but isn’t even in Magny Cours. Paddock rumors suggest that Tardozzi and BMW management had inconsolable differences, although the official line from the team is that they parted amicably.
The most heroic ride of the day was without doubt Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea. The British rider decided to ride despite having snapped the ligament in his wrist, broken his scaphoid and dislocated his shoulder when he crashed in Superpole last Saturday in Imola. Rea refused pain killing injections, but did ride with a special cast on his wrist to offer support and restrict movement. He ended the day in 15th, but just 0.598s off pole.
Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow was one of the many victims of the Magny Cours circuit after crashing out during qualifying.
“It’s pretty uncomfortable, but I’m honestly struggling with the bike more than I am with my body,” said Rea. “We came here with a bike that was too long and as a result it has been hard to turn. We’ll make a change for tomorrow but honestly I feel pretty happy to only be half a second off the best Superbike riders in the world.”
It was also an eventful day in terms of crashes in free practice. Lorenzo Lanzi, Ruben Xaus and Fabrizio Lai all hit the tarmac and in qualifying Cal Crutchlow, James Toseland, Noriyuki Haga and Roger Lee Hayden all crashed. Easily the most spectacular was Hayden with his Pedercini Kawasaki sliding up the track, hitting the curb and bursting into flames.
In World Supersport title rivals Kenan Sofuoglu and Eugene Laverty had to settle for second- and fifth- places respectively, with Kawasaki rider Katsuaki Fujiwara securing provisional pole. After last weekend’s dramatic race, Sofuoglu leads the championship standings by 16 points, meaning that the Turkish rider only has to finish in the top-six – even if Laverty takes the victory and the 25-point maximum. Sofuoglu has so far finished all of the 12 races in 2010 on the podium.