Davide Giugliano topped the timesheet in the first World Superbike qualifying session at Brno on Friday.
Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano was the fastest man on track at Brno in both the free practice and timed sessions held Friday in the Czech Republic. Round 9 of the FIM World Superbike Championship kicked off under grey skies, and though riders were able to get through the morning practice without rain, by the afternoon drops were falling on all segments of the circuit. With six minutes remaining in the timed session, the rain became too heavy and riders were unable to continue posting fast laps. Trailing Giguliano in the timed session is BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri, just 0.093 off the Ducati rider’s pace with Aprilia Racing’s Eugene Laverty a further 0.148 seconds back in third. Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes followed closely with the fourth-fastest time and Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa rounded out the top five. The inopportune change in weather also resulted in some of the regular front-runners, Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi and Honda’s Jonathan Rea in particular, finishing the session outside the top ten.
Giugliano piloted a Ducati 1098R in Superstock 1000 last year at Brno and took second-place. He is aboard the same make and model this year, and as such is in a unique position to simultaneously break a prolonged slump for the Italian marque as well as maintain its reign as the most successful team at the circuit. Ducati tops all other manufacturers in wins at Brno with five, but has failed to add another to its credit since Troy Bayliss took a double in 2008. The lengthy straightaways at the Czech circuit have often been cited as contributing to the Ducati’s recent inability to beat out the competition. Giugliano’s teammate and 2011 Superbike world champion Carlos Checa went 3-3 at Brno last year, marking one of the few weekends the Spaniard missed the top step in both races.
“We must stay focused, it’s only Friday of course and the races are not until Sunday,” said Giugliano. “In this championship it’s not at all easy to stay there, up front, all weekend. These are the kind of results I was looking for, to show my team that I am really learning that it’s possible to be fast at each and every track.”
Melandri sits second overall and could close the points gap on Biaggi with a strong showing on Sunday at Brno.
Melandri took the win in Race 1 at Brno last year while riding for Yamaha, but has found his pace this season aboard the BMW S1000RR, earning three wins so far and sitting second in overall points. He has turned 2012 into a banner year for BMW Motorrad, fetching them their first Superbike victory earlier in the season at Donington and regularly battling out front with points leader Biaggi. During the practice and timed sessions at Brno, Melandri was, for the most part, pleased with his set-up though chattering did present something of a problem for the Italian rider.
“We worked on the set-up of the bike and found some good solutions,” Melandri said. “In general, the bike is working well but we are struggling again with chattering. It is not easy, because we don’t know exactly what is causing the issue but we are going to work on it tomorrow. We will try to improve it and also work with the tires and then we will see.”
Laverty is one of three riders aboard the Aprilia RSV4 and, along with teammate Biaggi and ParkinGo’s Chaz Davies, has the machinery with the best record at Brno in the past three years. Since 2009, if an Aprilia wasn’t on top, it was in second thanks primarily to Biaggi’s performance at the circuit. Laverty is in good position to add to the manufacturer’s success though, coming off a second-place finish in Race 2 at Aragon and having finally rectified an electronics issue that contributed to his somewhat lackluster early season performance. According to a recent World Superbike race bulletin, it took Laverty and his crew until testing at Donington to discover that the “RSV4’s electronics had been cutting the engine’s power due to a defect that made the system think his machine was constantly pulling wheelies.” With the issue resolved, Laverty is confident he will be contending for more podiums and wins in the subsequent rounds.
Sykes is in the midst of one of his most successful Superbike seasons ever, currently fifth in overall points, with six podiums to his credit and six of eight poles. His highest finish at Brno so far is the seventh he took in 2009 for Yamaha, though he’s come into the current round positive that he and his Ninja ZX-10R are dialed-in for a good result come Sunday. Kawasaki hasn’t won at the Czech circuit since 1993.
Ducati’s Checa was in the middle of testing tires when the rain hit and had to postpone running some different bike configurations until Saturday.
“Today we have worked with the softer front tire and we’re pretty happy with the results,” explained Checa. “Unfortunately it began to rain during the afternoon’s session and so we weren’t able to try the wider tire solution. We’ll get that done tomorrow, weather permitting of course, and there are also some other small changes to make but we are moving in the right direction. We have last year as a reference and that provides us with a good base; we’ll continue with the work tomorrow and hope to be able to improve.”
Liberty Racing Team Effenbert’s Jakub Smrz was sixth-fastest, followed by teammates Ayrton Badovini and Michel Fabrizio of BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet in seventh and eighth respectively. Davies held on to ninth and Melandri’s teammate Leon Haslam rounded out the top ten. Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz, filling in for the injured Joan Lascorz, placed 11th, just 0.989 off the pace set by Giugliano out front.
Biaggi has a strong record at Brno, but was slowed Friday by bike issues he hopes to have fixed by race day.
Biaggi admitted afterward that he’d experienced some difficulties with the RSV4 that contributed to his unusual placement on the timesheet.
“We have a few problems to solve,” said Biaggi. “It almost feels like I’m riding on a different track and that’s odd because the bike has actually not been changed radically since the last race. We’re struggling coming into turns. We are really losing a lot of time coming out of them. Maybe we missed something in the tune up. We’re analyzing the data now and we’ll see about working to make up for lost ground.”
Rea went down during the morning practice session and continued to struggle to find good feeling with his CBR1000RR in the afternoon. Rea missed Brno last year due to injury, but took a win there in 2010.
“It’s been a bit of a frustrating day all together, to be honest,” said Rea. “I just haven’t found a great feeling with the bike yet; or the track. But after a long de-brief, the direction we need to go is quite clear. The bike is quite different to when I was here two years ago, when the pace was faster than I can achieve now. But we have that data so tomorrow we can run out with a different linkage which will make the bike work in a better way, I hope.”
One rider noticeably absent from the proceedings at Brno is former Team Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli. On the eve of Friday’s sessions, the Czech-based team announced that Guintoli would be leaving, citing a “misunderstanding” between team management and mechanics. Liberty Racing went on to explain that a number of mechanics working in Guintoli’s garage decided to opt out of the rest of the season, starting at Brno, leaving the French rider without technical support. Guintoli hopes to return to compete at the following round at Silverstone.
World Superbike Brno Friday Results 2012:
1. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’59.452
2. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’59.545
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’59.693
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’59.850
5. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2’00.180
6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 2’00.226
7. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 2’00.244
8. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 2’00.322
9. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 2’00.391
10. Leon Haslam (BMW) 2’00.422
11. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 2’00.441
12. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 2’00.528
13. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 2’00.615
14. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 2’00.746
15. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 2’00.911
16. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 2’00.978
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2’01.073
18. David Salom (Kawasaki) 2’01.575
19. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 2’02.060
20. Alessandro Polita (Ducati) 2’02.668
21. Leandro Mercado (Kawasaki) 2’03.342
22. Viktor Kispataki (Honda) 2’04.259
23. Norino Brignola (BMW) 2’04.506
Ten Kate Racing’s Broc Parkes posted the top time in World Supersport, barely edging out Bogdanka PTR’s Sam Lowes and Jules Cluzel who took second and third respectively. Kawasaki Intermoto Step’s Fabien Foret was fourth-fastest and Cluzel’s PTR teammate Ronan Quarmby followed in fifth.
Current points leader Kenan Sofuoglu of Kawasaki Lorenzini put up the sixth fastest time, 1.221 off the lead pace set by Parkes. Prorace’s Gabor Talmacsi was followed by a paltry 0.001 seconds behind Sofuoglu in seventh and Bike Service’s Andrea Antonelli held to eighth ahead of Sofuoglu’s teammate Sheridan Morais in ninth. Lowes’ teammate Mathew Sholtz rounded out the top ten.
Ten Kate Racing’s Broc Parkes was the fastest rider at Brno in World Supersport during Friday’s qualifying session.
World Supersport Brno Friday Results 2012
1. Broc Parkes (Honda) 2’03.440
2. Sam Lowes (Honda) 2’03.481
3. Jules Cluzel (Honda) 2’03.495
4. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) 2’04.120
5. Ronan Quarmby (Honda) 2’04.475
6. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 2’04.661
7. Gabor Talmasci (Honda) 2’04.662
8. Andrea Antonelli (Yamaha) 2’04.944
9. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) 2’05.074
10. Mathew Sholtz (Honda) 2’05.077
11. V. Debise (Honda) 2’05.172
12. Alex Baldolini (Triumph) 2’05.191
13. Vladimir Leonov (Yamaha) 2’05.206
14. Romain Lanusse (Kawasaki) 2’05.317
15. Stefano Cruciani (Kawasaki) 2’05.341