Tom Sykes was fastest in Friday’s qualifying session at Magny-Cours, beating Carlos Checa by 0.448 seconds.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes lead the way in Friday’s World Superbike qualifying session at Magny-Cours. Defending world champion Carlos Checa of Althea Racing followed in second, 0.448 off Sykes’ pace with BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri close behind in third. Both Sykes and Melandri have the title in their sights and both will be fighting to finish ahead of current points leader Max Biaggi of Aprilia Racing.
Sykes’ recent move past Melandri into second overall was helped by the BMW ace’s four consecutive race DNFs over the previous two rounds. Melandri ultimately missed the entire round at Portimao after an early incident in Race 1 saw him struck by an oncoming rider after going down; he was then rushed off to the medical center with two broken ribs and extensive bruising on his back. He has six race wins to his credit this season though and prior to the recent misfortune appeared to be on pace to give BMW its first World Superbike title ever. Now, with a 38.5-point deficit on Biaggi, Melandri desperately needs to finish 1-1 on Sunday if he is to move to the top step for the season. The pressure to compete at the top of his game is intensified for Melandri by the fact that his injuries still persist and continue to cause significant pain while aboard the S1000RR.
Marco Melandri is still recovering from injuries sustained at Portimao, but will be fighting for a podium finish on Sunday.
“It was nice to be back on the RR, but it is not easy because every time I try to move a little bit faster on the bike it feels like I have a knife in my back,” said Melandri. “Lap by lap, when I get warmer, it gets better and I can do one or two stronger laps but then I get pain again and feel tired. It is difficult because I cannot use the leg and the back to change direction. To do one fast lap is one thing, to do the race will be difficult but it is good to be here and to be able to do one fast lap.”
Sykes is in a similar position as Melandri in terms of points, 30.5 behind Biaggi, and will need to post big results Sunday if he’s to move past the Aprilia rider. Biaggi can seal the deal for himself though if he’s able to gather 20 points, regardless of how Sykes and Melandri perform.
Checa’s teammate Davide Giugliano has faced some challenges over the past three rounds, but came through the first qualifying session in fourth. The Ducati rider was followed by Honda’s Jonathan Rea in fifth and BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet’s Michel Fabrizio in sixth. Biaggi finished the day with the seventh-fastest time, a position he will have to improve on to protect his points lead.
“We need to get ourselves sorted,” said Biaggi. “In certain situations the bike moves around too much. Our rivals were strong straight away and now it’s our turn to improve. In some sectors we’re fast and in others we lose some ground, so we’ll need to find the right compromise to shave of a few tenths where we’re falling behind, but without sacrificing our strengths. Given the forecast, we’ll also have to keep an eye on the weather which could shuffle the deck a bit. We will simply have to be ready for any situation.”
World Superbike Magny-Cours Friday Results 2012:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’38.200
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’38.648
3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’38.742
4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’38.962
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’39.014
6. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1’39.139
7. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’39.144
8. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’39.149
9. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’39.186
10. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’39.285
11. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’39.382
12. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’39.530
13. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 1’39.709
14. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1’39.842
15. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’39.945
16. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1’40.084
17. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1’40.538
18. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’40.860
19. Claudio Corti (Kawasaki) 1’40.860
20. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki) 1’41.535
21. Norino Brignola (BMW) 1’42.990
Jules Cluzel took provisional pole in World Supersport at Magny-Cours on Friday in front of friends and family.
PTR Honda’s Jules Cluzel came out on top in the first World Supersport qualifying session at Magny-Cours in front of his home crowd. He was followed by Ten Kate Racing’s Broc Parkes in second and Kawasaki Intermoto Step’s Fabien Foret in third. Cluzel has already secured second in the championship and is enjoying riding for friends and family, but a late session crash kept the French rider from feeling too relaxed.
“I am happy because I enjoyed riding today, the last time was seven years ago,” said Cluzel. “I love this circuit and the weather was nice this afternoon. Just at the end I had a crash in the last five minutes. I think the reason was I was waiting too much for other riders to move away from me the lap before and the right side of my tire got dirty or cold. The weather forecast is for rain the rest of the weekend, so it was good to qualify well today. On the bike I feel relaxed, now I need a good sleep ahead of tomorrow and I think everything will be good.”
Cluzel’s PTR teammate Sam Lowes was fourth-fastest with the 2012 World Supersport champion, Kenan Sofuoglu of Kawasaki Lorenzini, trailing in fifth. Team PATA by Martini’s Massimo Roccoli posted the sixth-fastest time, followed by Sofuoglu’s teammate Sheridan Morais in seventh and Bogdanka PTR’s Mathew Scholtz in eighth.
World Supersport Magny-Cours Friday Results 2012:
1. Jules Cluzel (Honda) 1’41.886
2. Broc Parkes (Honda) 1’42.292
3. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) 1’42.318
4. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’42.570
5. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1’42.613
6. Massimo Roccoli (Yamaha) 1’42.840
7. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) 1’42.925
8. Mathew Scholtz (Honda) 1’43.136
9. Ronan Quarmby (Honda) 1’43.148
10. Jed Metcher (Yamaha) 1’43.361
11. Vladimir Leonov (Yamaha) 1’43.409
12. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda) 1’43.482
13. Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki) 1’43.581
14. Florian Marino (Kawasaki) 1’43.649
15. Andrea Antonelli (Yamaha) 1’43.750