Carlos Checa won his second straight pole of the World Superbike season Saturday at Donington Park, setting a new circuit record in the process (1:28.099), and he will be joined by Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes, and Jakub Smrz on the front row. The testing last week at Aragon must have done wonders for the factory Kawasaki team as Sykes posted his fastest lap on a race tire, not a qualifier. Dropping back during qualifying, early weekend frontrunners Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri qualified only sixth and ninth, respectively. Melandri’s teammate Eugene Laverty crashed in Superpole 1, destroying his Yamaha, but continued on a backup bike to qualify thirteenth.
Biaggi and Melandri continued their fighting from the season opening races at Phillip Island in the qualifying practices for Donington Park, with Biaggi leading Melandri in the first practice, followed by Checa, Laverty, and Smrz as the fastest five. Most times did not improve in the second qualifying practice, except for Jonathan Rea, who moved up to sixth fastest. Michel Fabrizio also improved, managing fifteenth fastest to move into Superpole despite an incident with Biaggi during qualifying. James Toseland did not participate in his home round of WSBK racing, having suffered a fractured wrist after a testing crash, while Chris Vermeulen did not post a time in the second session. He has been doubtful about racing this weekend, as the Australian is still recovering from a crash and subsequent knee injury last season. Knocked Out in Qualifying Practice: 17. Ayrton Badovini, 18. Roberto Rolofo, 19. Mark Aitchison, 20. Chris Vermeulen.
Ten minutes into the session, Haslam led Camier, Rea, Corser, and Checa as the fastest five just after Eugene Laverty had a massive crash through the Craner curves. He was unhurt, though the bike was heavily damaged. When six minutes remained, Xaus, Berger, and Guintoli were in the knockout zone with Laverty, who had just headed back out on a new bike. In the final moments, Haslam still led, followed by Checa, then Melandri, only to have Lascorz find some speed and jump into third with a minute remaining. Meanwhile, Laverty moved up to thirteenth but remained in the relegation zone, where he would end the session. Sykes (1:28.548) surprisingly led Superpole 1, followed by Haslam, Checa, Lascorz, and Melandri as the fastest five. Knocked Out in Superpole 1: 13. Eugene Laverty, 14. Sylvain Guintoli, 15. Maxime Berger, 16. Ruben Xaus.
Checa, Smrz, Corser, and Sykes were the first out for S2, quickly followed by the rest of the twelve riders hoping to later vie for pole. Checa led (1:28.189) at the halfway point of the twelve minute session, followed by Smrz, Haslam, Rea, and Haga. Meanwhile, Melandri, and Sykes had yet to set a time. When only three minutes remained, Camier, Fabrizio, Lascorz, and Corser were in the knockout zone. They remained there with a minute left, at which point the top eleven riders were within a second of each others’ best times. Camier then improved, knocking Melandri into the relegation zone. Sykes slid back to sixth fastest, with Checa, Smrz, Haslam, Rea, and Haga the fastest five. Checa’s time was the fastest ever by a superbike at the Donington circuit. Knocked Out in Superpole 2: 9. Melandri, 10. Corser, 11. Fabrizio, 12. Lascorz.
It was four minutes into the ten minutes session before a rider set a timed lap, with Haslam quickly leading Biaggi, Camier, and Haga. Smrz soon slid into second, while Checa, Rea, and Sykes played a waiting game in their garages. Halfway through the session, only Rea hadn’t set a time.
On his second timed lap, Checa went straight to the top, shaving nearly a tenth off his own and the circuit’s best lap from S2. Haslam, second fastest, was over two tenths slower with two minutes left to race for pole. Sykes continued his improved pace on the Kawasaki, slotting into third and the front row with a minute left. It didn’t appear that anyone could challenge Checa, and as the session ended, no one took pole from the Spaniard, continuing the terrific start to his season.
Superpole Results from World Superbike at Donington Park, England:
|1.||Carlos Checa||Althea Racing Ducati||1:28.099||-|
|2.||Leon Haslam||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:28.365||0.266|
|3.||Tomy Sykes||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||1:28.556||0.457|
|4.||Jakub Smrz||Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati||1:28.561||0.462|
|5.||Noriyuki Haga||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||1:28.673||0.574|
|6.||Max Biaggi||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1:28.702||0.603|
|7.||Leon Camier||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1:28.737||0.638|
|8.||Jonathan Rea||Castrol Honda||1:29.514||1.415|
|Out After Superpole 2|
|9.||Marco Melandri||Yamaha WSBK Team||1:28.803||0.896|
|10.||Troy Corser||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:28.836||0.737|
|11.||Michel Fabrizio||Team Suzuki Alstare||1:29.135||1.036|
|12.||Joan Lascorz||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||1:29.422||1.323|
|Out After Superpole 1|
|13.||Eugene Laverty||Yamaha WSBK Team||1:29.312||1.213|
|14.||Sylvain Guintoli||Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati||1:29.879||1.780|
|15.||Maxime Berger||Supersonic Racing Ducati||1:30.002||1.903|
|16.||Ruben Xaus||Castrol Honda||1:30.076||1.977|
|Not qualified for Superpole|
|17.||Ayrton Badovini||Team Pedercini Kawasaki||1:30.169||2.070|
|18.||Roberto Rolfo||Team Pedercini Kawasaki||1:30.680||2.581|
|19.||Mark Aitchison||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||1:31.117||3.018|
|20.||Chris Vermeulen||Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing||1:31.485||3.386|