Max Biaggi scored his first Tissot-Superpole of the 2012 season at Nurburgring, barely ahead of Tom Sykes.
Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi barely outpaced the competition to win the Tissot-Superpole at Nurburgring. The Corsair already has four wins to his credit this season, but this marks his first start from the front of the pack in 2012 and the advantage couldn’t have come at a better time. Biaggi, after holding the outright points lead for much of the season, recently fell to second behind BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri. The BMW rider will also be joining Biaggi on the front row, having come in third-fastest behind Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes. Biaggi’s teammate Eugene Laverty scored the final spot out front in fourth.
“Pole position is the result of a weekend where we have worked well,” said Biaggi, “focusing a lot on the set-up and taking maximum advantage of the practice sessions. I managed to avoid any mistakes on the fast lap and I’m also satisfied with our race pace. This doesn’t mean that the races tomorrow will be easy – on the contrary – there are a lot of riders within a few tenths of a second, so I expect a truly heated Sunday where we will definitely be able to have our say.”
Sykes has been a pole master for most of the season, and he was only 0.049 off Biaggi’s time at Nurburgring. Melandri was right behind the Kawasaki ace, coming in 0.057 behind the lead pace. Melandri had struggled earlier in the weekend with chatter and tire issues on his S1000RR and was somewhat surprised at the difficulty considering how well his machinery has run for much of the year.
“I am very happy to be in the front row here at Nürburgring, which is my second home race,” said Melandri. “In the past I have always struggled in qualifying but today I had a good feeling with the qualifying tire.”
Sykes, meanwhile, has set blistering times in Superpole, but has struggled to maintain a winning pace for the length of a race. He scored his second win of the season in the previous round at Moscow and has recently mentioned that his ZX-10R is running better than ever. Melandri has a newly earned points lead to defend and Sykes still has time to gain ground in the battle for the title and both will be looking to score better than Biaggi come Sunday.
Honda’s Jonathan Rea heads up the second row and will also be a fierce competitor out front. Defending world champion Carlos Checa of Althea Racing has enjoyed success at the ‘Ring before and has the potential to come away with a race win as well. The Spaniard was sixth-fastest but was only 0.467 behind Biaggi’s top time. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier battled his way to the final Superpole session and placed seventh, followed by Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz.
Checa’s teammate Davide Giugliano was unable to make it past the second knockout session and will start from ninth on the grid. ParkinGO MTC Racing’s Chaz Davies will start from 10th but could easily be contending for a top-five finish, if not a spot on the podium. The British rider earned his first podium of the season in the previous round at Moscow Raceway and he was the fastest rider in SP1 at Nurburgring. PATA Racing’s Lorenzo Zanetti follows Davies in 11th and Melandri’s teammate Leon Haslam finished the session in 12th.
One thing that all riders are likely thankful for is the dry, clear weather so far at the German circuit, especially In light of the terrible conditions that plagued Nurburgring in 2011 as well as the handful of wet races they’ve dealt with so far in 2012.
World Superbike Nurburgring Superpole 2012:
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’53.855
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’53.904
3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’53.912
4. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’54.148
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’54.300
6. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’54.322
7. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’55.165
8. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’55.734
9. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’54.540
10. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1’54.800
11. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 1’55.671
12. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’55.541
13. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1’56.290
14. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1’56.530
15. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1’56.122
16. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’56.151
17. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’56.246
18. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’56.465
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’57.101
20. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) 1’57.504
21. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1’57.729
22. Brett McCormick (Ducati) 1’58.177
23. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki) 1’58.567
24. Norino Brignola (BMW) 1’59.385
PTR Honda’s Jules Cluzel led the pack in World Supersport Superpole, taking the top time by a hair’s breadth over his PTR teammate Sam Lowes. Just 0.009 behind Cluzel, Lowes set his fastest pace in Session 1 and will be a force out front on Sunday. Ten Kate Racing’s Broc Parkes sits in third and current points leader Kenan Sofuoglu of Kawasaki Lorenzini rounds out the front row.
“Yeah I am happy as this is my first time at the track and I learn it quickly,” said Cluzel. “I think I still need to improve a little bit because I know tomorrow Kenan will be really pushing like in Russia. We still have some improvements to try in the morning and we will try to do our best. My target is to finish on the podium, but if possible to win.”
Cluzel has had a fantastic rookie season in World Supersport, earning five pole positions and five podiums, two of which were wins. He currently sits second overall, 33 points behind Sofuoglu. The Turkish rider came out on top in the previous round at Moscow Raceway and is in the hunt for his third World Supersport title. Lowes could also gain valuable ground in the title race, sitting third overall, 35 points behind Sofuoglu.
Heading up the second row is Kawasaki Intermoto Step’s Fabien Foret. Yakhnich Motorsport’s Vladimir Leonov, third place finisher at Moscow, came in sixth followed by PRORACE’s Gabor Talmasci. Sofuoglu’s teammate Sheridan Morais held to eighth while Team Lorini’s Roberto Tamburini and Power Team by Suriano’s Alex Baldolini took ninth and 10th respectively.
World Supersport Nurburgring Superpole 2012:
1. Jules Cluzel (Honda) 1’59.201
2. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’59.210
3. Broc Parkes (Honda) 1’59.226
4. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1’59.521
5. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) 1’59.637
6. Vladimir Leonov (Yamaha) 1’59.816
7. Gabor Talmasci (Honda) 2’00.079
8. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) 2’00.180
9. Roberto Tamburini (Honda) 2’00.305
10. Alex Baldolini (Triumph) 2’00.410
11. Imre Toth (Honda) 2’00.455
12. Ronan Quarmby (Honda) 2’00.461
13. Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki) 2’00.593
14. Massimo Roccoli (Yamaha) 2’00.686
15. Leon Bovee (Yamaha) 2’00.782