Jakub Smrz will be the surprise polesitter for tomorrow's World Superbike races at Miller Motorsports Park after a stunning late effort in Superpole. With almost everyone out of qualifying tyres, the final session looked like coming to an anti-climactic end but Smrz produced some late fireworks to deny Carlos Checa.
The Czech rider was quickest in qualifying practice which set the field for Superpole but that hasn't been uncommon, only for him to flatter to deceive when the pressure increased. This time though, the Effenbert Liberty rider didn't put a wheel wrong.
The first session got off to a dramatic start with Leon Haslam forced to cruise back into the pits with a rear puncture and sadly for the Briton, that set the tone for his afternoon as he dropped out in SP1. Haslam was joined in elimination by home favourite John Hopkins as Crescent Fixi Suzuki had a nightmare Sunday, Leon Camier having failed to even qualify in the top 16.
With the field so closely matched, SP2 was always going to claim some big name casualties and Marco Melandri was the unfortunate victim, completing a miserable day for BMW. The Italian will start ninth with compatriot Michel Fabrizio tenth ahead of the impressive Chaz Davies and Lorenzo Zanetti. Davies briefly threatened to reach SP3 after going seventh in the final two minutes but as the times tumbled, so did the British rookie, all the way to eleventh.
All eight participants in SP3 ventured out straight away when the session began but Eugene Laverty's factory Aprilia only made it halfway around the out lap before grinding to a halt. The Irishman was therefore nailed down in eighth place but championship leader Max Biaggi could only manage seventh with a healthy motorbike, leaving the teammates together on the second row.
Perennial pole man Tom Sykes set the pace early in the third session but his 1:48.062 was a tenth shy of the mark set by Checa in SP2 and the Spaniard immediately demonstrated the standard required with a 1:47.810. That seemed to be that as the track emptied but Smrz rejoined in the closing stages and sent the Effenbert Liberty garage wild with a 1:47.626, good enough for a second career Superpole success.
Sykes maintained his 100% record of qualifying on the front row with third while Davide Giugliano used the slipstream from his teammate's Ducati to great effect, securing a career-best fourth on the grid. Jonathan Rea heads the second row for Honda ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and the factory Aprilias who will hope for better on race day.
As is tradition at Miller, the meeting takes place on 'Memorial Day' weekend with both races held on Monday, the first of which starts at 7pm UK time.
2012 eni Superbike World Championship
Round 6 – Miller Motorsports Park (Superpole Result)
|1||Jakub Smrz||Ducati||Liberty Racing Team Effenbert||1:47.626|
|2||Carlos Checa||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:47.810 (+0.184)|
|3||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:48.062 (+0.436)|
|4||Davide Giugliano||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:48.220 (+0.594)|
|5||Jonathan Rea||Honda||Honda World Superbike Team||1:48.563 (+0.937)|
|6||Sylvain Guintoli||Ducati||Liberty Racing Team Effenbert||1:48.568 (+0.942)|
|7||Max Biaggi||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team||1:48.794 (+1.168)|
|8||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team||No Time (SP3)|
|9||Marco Melandri||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:48.422 (SP2)|
|10||Michel Fabrizio||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet||1:48.566 (SP2)|
|11||Chaz Davies||Aprilia||ParkinGO MTC Racing||1:48.669 (SP2)|
|12||Lorenzo Zanetti||Ducati||PATA Racing||1:48.929 (SP2)|
|13||Leon Haslam||BMW||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:49.552 (SP1)|
|14||Maxime Berger||Ducati||Team Effenbert Liberty Racing||1:49.750 (SP1)|
|15||Niccolo Canepa||Ducati||Red Devils Roma||1:49.818 (SP1)|
|16||John Hopkins||Suzuki||Crescent Fixi Suzuki||1:49.966 (SP1)|
|17||Loris Baz||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:50.424 (Q2)|
|18||Ayrton Badovini||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet||1:50.427 (Q2)|
|19||David Salom||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:50.504 (Q2)|
|20||Leon Camier||Suzuki||Crescent Fixi Suzuki||1:50.520 (Q1)|
|21||Hiroshi Aoyama||Honda||Honda World Superbike Team||1:50.963 (Q2)|
|22||Leandro Mercado||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:51.843 (Q2)|
|23||Jake Holden||BMW||Grillini Progea Superbike Team||1:52.108 (Q1)|
|24||Shane Turpin (WC)||Ducati||Boulder Motor Sports||1:54.399 (Q2)|