World Superbike Superpole at Silverstone was one of the most dramatic of the season, with a late SP3 change in the weather which forced officials to red flag proceedings to declare a 20 minute wet session. Aprilia Racing’s Eugene Laverty
ended the day atop the timesheet, earning his first ever pole position in Superbike. Team Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa
moved himself to second on the grid with a flying final lap, followed by Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea
Superpole started in the dry, but clear conditions weren’t enough for BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Marco Melandri, who ran into bike issues early in the session, forcing him to push his machine back to the pits and forfeit any chance at a flying lap. He’ll start Sunday’s race from 15th on the grid. The remaining riders battled for a bid to SP2, with Melandri’s teammate, Chaz Davies and Kawasaki Racing’s Loris Baz each spending time at the top of the list before FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel dropped one of his best laps of the weekend just before the end of the session, moving himself to the lead position.
Dry conditions persisted through SP2, but dark clouds loomed just beyond the track. Baz came out swinging, putting up a 2’04 lap time which neared the current record lap time at the circuit. Riders pushed hard to best Baz’s time but fell just short, with his teammate Tom Sykes upping his pace to finish in second followed by current points leader Sylvain Guintoli of Aprilia Racing in third.
Fearing for his position near the back of the pack in SP2, Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano left the pits for a late session fast lap, but then lost his bike mid-corner. He went into a slide off track and his bike went tumbling, but before coming to a stop, the machine hit the Italian rider's right leg. Giugliano had to be assisted off track by officials and was eventually carted off on a stretcher. In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, Giugliano’s ninth-fastest time (and spot in SP3) stood against the best efforts of Cluzel and Rea’s teammate, Leon Haslam. X-rays taken shortly after revealed Giugliano had avoided any fractures, but he continues to deal with pain in his right heel.
"Everything was going well up until phase two of the Superpole," said a disappointed Giugliano. "Unfortunately however this track is extremely uneven, with a lot of pot holes. In these conditions it’s difficult to push to the max, the bike vibrates and it’s easy to lose traction and fall. As far as tomorrow’s races are concerned, I think I have good pace and hope to be physically fit in order to be able to push. The third row doesn’t mean we can’t make good races and I’ll be doing my best to achieve solid results.”
With just eight riders in SP3 thanks to Giugliano’s absence, the Kawasaki duo once again set the pace, with Baz becoming the first rider to dip into the 2’03 range, followed soon after by Sykes. Half-way into the session Sykes bested all earlier times, putting in a scorching 2’03.362, nearly one second faster than the current record. Imediately after he crossed the finish line officials threw the red flag due to spots of water on the track, making his effort moot. Riders were forced back to the pits with less than five minutes remaining in SP3 to await the start of a 20 minute wet Superpole session.
Riders came out quickly to make the most of the largely dry track during the opening minutes, but soon after proceedings were restarted Guintoli ran into a mechanical issue and was forced to push his bike back to the pits, effectively leaving him eighth on the grid with no recourse to improve his position. Baz put up the fastest time during the restart and held there for much of the session due to the fact that everyone on the grid returned to the pits after their initial laps. It was uncertain whether any would attempt a final lap, but with five minutes left in the session riders mounted-up and did an inspection lap to see if conditions had improved.
With a dry line apparent, all made a push during the final seconds, resulting in a dramatic finish that saw Laverty end on top.
"I have been waiting for my first Superpole for so long," said Laverty. "After so many front row starts it was about time! I'm quite pleased. I'm sure we were also a bit lucky, but that's the way it goes. In the two sessions today we showed in any case that we have a really good race pace in the dry, so tomorrow we should be able to ride two great races."
Rea was quick as well, holding to the number two spot before Checa came across the line. Checa’s move up to second bumped Rea to third and Baz to the top of the second row. Sykes sat seventh during the initial stages of the wet session but was able to improve to fifth before time ran out. Davies took sixth followed by Cluzel’s teammate, Leon Camier, in seventh. Guintoli finished eighth ahead of Giugliano in ninth.
World Superbike Silverstone Superpole Results 2013:
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 2’04.730
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2’04.949
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 2’05.078
4. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 2’05.105
5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 2’05.949
6. Chaz Davies (BMW) 2’06.369
7. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 2’06.775
8. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 2’05.569
9. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 2’05.750
10. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 2’05.011
11. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 2’05.492
12. Leon Haslam (Honda) 2’05.573
13. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) 2’05.492
14. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 2’05.593
15. Marco Melandri (BMW) 2’13.317
16. Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki) 2’07.743
17. Federico Sandi (Kawasaki) 2’08.106
18. Vittorio Iannuzzo (BMW) 2’09.543