Wildcard rider John Hopkins took an incredible pole position as the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team enjoyed a dream debut in the World Superbike Championship. The BSB outfit were granted a wildcard entry for this weekend's event and Hopkins took full advantage to snatch pole from Yamaha's Eugene Laverty.
In truth, the result shouldn't have been a surprise as Hopkins had set the pace in the combined qualifying practice sessions that preceded Superpole, but there were surprises further down the grid. The sight of a factory Yamaha and an Alitalia Aprilia on the front row is no great shock but it was Laverty and Leon Camier who took second and third, with title contenders Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi back in sixth and 11th respectively.
Series leader Carlos Checa continues to show impressive consistency and will be a threat from fourth on the grid. The Spaniard holds a 30 point advantage over Biaggi and has a golden opportunity to extend that lead on Sunday.
Sylvain Guintoli heads up row two ahead of Melandri's Yamaha with Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga also starting alongside after strong Superpole sessions, Fabrizio reaching SP3 for just the third time this year.
Leon Haslam was the next of the British riders in ninth, just ahead of fellow BMW man Ayrton Badovini, but was disappointed after believing he had the pace to reach Superpole 3.
“I was able to post good lap times on race tyres but sadly when we changed to the qualifying tyre, the extra grip caused a few issues. We are happy with the times on race tyres and should be in good shape for the races tomorrow. It's a shame because if I had remained on race tyres I think I could have made it into SP3. But we will line up in 9th tomorrow, which isn't bad considering my recent starting positions. I am feeling pretty confident so let's see what happens. The BMW is good off the line so I’m hoping for a good start.”
With Biaggi in 11th, Mark Aitchison will round out the third row after another impressive run on the privateer Kawasaki. The best of the factory ZX-10Rs was Tom Sykes, whose hopes of a podium look remote from 16th while James Toseland will be delighted just to be racing again and will start 14th.
Two more Brits will be in action tomorrow with Alex Lowes starting 18th for Castrol Honda after just failing to qualify for Superpole. Meanwhile, Jon Kirkham will make his WSB debut from 22nd on the second of the wildcard Crescent Suzukis.
|1||John Hopkins (WC)||USA||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||2:04.041|
|2||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||2:04.068|
|3||Leon Camier||GBR||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||2:04.303|
|4||Carlos Checa||SPA||Ducati||Althea Racing||2:04.362|
|5||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||2:05.456|
|6||Marco Melandri||ITA||Yamaha||Yamaha World Superbike Team||2:05.639|
|7||Michel Fabrizio||ITA||Suzuki||Team Suzuki Alstare||2:05.997|
|8||Noriyuki Haga||JAP||Aprilia||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||No Time|
|Eliminated in Superpole 2|
|9||Leon Haslam||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||2:05.091|
|10||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||2:05.115|
|11||Max Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||2:05.184|
|12||Mark Aitchison||AUS||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||2:06.238|
|Eliminated in Superpole 1|
|13||Jakub Smrz||CZE||Ducati||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||2:05.400|
|14||James Toseland||GBR||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||2:05.403|
|15||Maxime Berger||FRA||Ducati||Supersonic Racing Team||2:05.709|
|16||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||No Time|
|Failed to Qualify for Superpole Session|
|17||Troy Corser||AUS||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||2:06.304|
|18||Alex Lowes||GBR||Honda||Castrol Honda||2:06.524|
|19||Joan Lascorz||SPA||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||2:06.787|
|20||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||2:06.895|
|21||Fabrizio Lai||ITA||Honda||Castrol Honda||2:07.482|
|22||Jon Kirkham (WC)||GBR||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||2:07.889|