WSBK: A Point Proven During Superpole at Monza

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Racing for some redemption, Max Biaggi (1:41.745) proved a point in winning pole for the 2011 World Superbike round at Monza, returning to the track to best his own qualifying time after most riders had returned to their garages. Biaggi also bested his record top speed (334.8 kph/208.035 mph) from an earlier practice session in qualifying. He will be joined on the front row for his home race by Eugene Laverty, Jonathon Rea, and Troy Corser. Meanwhile, points leader Carlos Checa was knocked out in Superpole 2 and will start eleventh. Most riders fell afoul of the Monza chicane at least once, having their lap times ruined and deleted by cutting across the feature.

Rea (1:43.712) was the first to go fastest for the weekend, leading Corser, Badovini, and Biaggi in the first free practice on Friday morning. Haslam (1:42.934) took his turn to put the quick BMW on provisional pole in the afternoon qualifying practice, though it was Biaggi breaking the WSBK speed record that garnered more attention for the Italian in front of the home crowd. Laverty and Badovini, who was again quick Friday afternoon, completed the provisional front row. Meanwhile, James Toseland, Badovini’s returning teammate, was only twenty-first quickest in QP. Also recovering Chris Vermeulen did not ride in the afternoon session, after an off in the morning required a visit to the medical center and stitches on his elbow.

Nor did Vermeulen ride on Saturday, due to that injury. His participation in Sunday’s races is possible but undetermined as yet. Corser was quickest in the second qualifying practice Saturday morning, though Haslam’s time remained as provisional pole. The session was delayed after oil dropped during the WSS required cleanup, then red flagged to clear oil spewed across the track after Fabrizio Lai’s engine decided to give up the ghost. Haslam, Biaggi, Corser, Lascorz, and Badovini were the overall fastest five in the two qualifying practices. Biaggi finally took the lap time lead (1:42.589) for the weekend in the final free practice, again breaking the top speed record with a 334.8 kph (208.035 mph) fastest speed.  Knocked Out in Qualifying Practice: 17. Ruben Xaus, 18. Roberto Rolfo, 19. James Toseland, 20. Mark Aitchison, 21. Fabrizio Lai.

Superpole 1:
Superpole 1 got underway on a bright and sunny Monza sky, with Haslam tweeting moments before the session, “Just about to start superpole. Onit.” When ten minutes remained in the fourteen minute session, only six riders had posted a time. At that point, Lascorz (1:43.090) was quickest, followed by Haslam, Guintoli, Haga, Berger, and Smrz. Just a couple of minutes later, Laverty led (1:42.645), with Smrz, Biaggi, Berger, and Camier in the relegation zone. As usually happens in the ever-changing Superpole, Biaggi took the provisional pole soon thereafter, dropping Sykes into the knockout zone.

The Italian led Laverty, Rea, Corser, and Melandri as the fastest five in a session where the point was not to be one of the slowest four. While most of the faster riders went back into the garage, those in the bottom half of the pack made their way out for faster lap times as the minutes ticked away. Interestingly, Camier was slowest of all while teammate Biaggi was quickest, with just over two minutes remaining. He soon joined the Italian with a third quickest lap. Biaggi remained fastest at the end of the session, with Haslam, Fabrizio, Camier, and Laverty the top five. Knocked Out in Superpole 1: 13. Joan Lascorz, 14. Tom Sykes, 15. Jakub Smrz, 16. Maxime Berger.

Superpole 2:
Things were again quickly underway in the ten minute long Superpole 2. Rea had moved forward while using a race tire and still had two qualifying tires remaining for the final two sessions, a tire which put him quickly in provisional pole. He was quickly eclipsed by Laverty as times continued to drop. Soon, Yamaha teammate Melandri (1:42.201) took charge, leaving Guintoli, Fabrizio, Badovini, and Checa, who had not yet set a time in S3, in the relegation zone.

At the halfway point, Melandri led Laverty, Biaggi, Rea, and Corser as the fastest five as the knockout zone remained half populated by Italians. Guintoli’s efforts to move up and out were hampered by cutting the chicane and losing his lap time. Meanwhile, sixth fastest Haslam was an unhappy rider in the garage, asking for a race tire. Checa’s first time put him ninth fastest, only to have his next lap deleted with yet another bit of chicanery. With a minute remaining, Haslam, Camier, Checa, and Guintoli were in danger of being left behind. Haslam soon moved up to fifth fastest, only to slip down a position after a fast lap from Fabrizio. The session ended with Melandri leading Laverty, Biaggi, Rea, Fabrizio, Haslam, Corser, and Haga as the top eight. Points leader Checa would not advance to fight for pole. Knocked Out in Superpole 2: 9. Ayrton Badovini, 10. Leon Camier, 11. Carlos Checa, 12. Sylvain Guintoli.

Superpole 3:
Times were not set until halfway though the session, with Biaggi (1:42.319) taking an early lead, follwed by Rea, Melandri, and Fabrizio. Corser, Laverty and Haga remained in the garage a bit longer, with Haslam cutting the chicane and wasting his first lap. Soon, Laverty was just under eight hundredths off Biaggi’s time, with Rea and Corser completeing the provisional front row.

That order remained the same with just two minutes to go, as Corser also lost a promising lap time. Most of the riders seemed content with their times as the seconds ticked down, choosing to end the session in the garage. Biaggi, though, had a point to prove and bettered his own fastest time by nearly six tenths.

Superpole Results from World Superbike at Monza, Italy:

Pos. No. Rider Team Time Diff.
1. 1 Max Biaggi Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team 1:41.745
2. 58 Eugene Laverty Yamaha WSBK Team 1:42.393 0.648
3. 4 Jonathon Rea Castrol Honda 1:42.614 0.869
4. 11 Troy Corser BMW Motorrad 1:42.688 0.943
5. 33 Marco Melandri Yamaha WSBK Team 1:42.714 0.969
6. 91 Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad 1:42.723 0.978
7. 84 Michel Fabrizio Team Suzuki Alstare 1:42.954 1.209
8. 41 Noriyuki Haga PATA Racing Team Aprilia 1:43.043 1.298
Out After Superpole 2
9. 86 Ayrton Badovini BMW Motorrad Italia 1:42. 886 0.685
10. 2 Leon Camier Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team 1:42.995 0.794
11. 7 Carlos Checa Althea Racing Ducati 1:43.116 0.915
12. 50 Sylvain Guintoli Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 1:43.146 0.945
Out After Superpole 1
13. 17 Joan Lascorz Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 1:43.090 0.953
14. 66 Tom Sykes Paul Bird Kawasaki Racing 1:43.437 1.300
15. 96 Jakub Smrz Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 1:43.993 1.856
16. 121 Maxime Berger Supersonic Racing Ducati 1:44.005 1.868
Not qualified for Superpole
17. 111 Ruben Xaus Castrol Honda 1:44.216 1.216
18. 44 Roberto Rolfo Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1:44.515 1.515
19. 52 James Toseland BMW Motorrad Italia 1:44.989 2.989
20. 8 Mark Aitchison Team Pedercini Kawasaki 1:45.022 2.088
21. 32 Fabrizio Lai Echo Sport Racing Co. Honda 1:45.739 2.805

Source: WSBK; Photo: Pirelli