Max Biaggi struck a psychological blow in the championship battle with Marco Melandri by beating him and Tom Sykes to pole position at the Nurburgring. Melandri took the lead in the title chase for the first time two weeks ago in Moscow but Biaggi responded like a champion, taking his first Superpole victory since Brno 2011.
After both comfortable cleared the bar in SP1 and SP2, Biaggi and Melandri engaged in some early mind games in the third session with the Aprilia rider letting riders through to avoid them picking up a tow, only to see Melandri back off too and stay behind. Biaggi instead got down to business and produced the fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:53.855, half a tenth quicker than the BMW.
The gap between the two was minimal but incredibly, Tom Sykes managed to slot into it with a 1:53.904, ensuring he’ll start between the Italian rivals tomorrow. The Kawasaki rider is only 41 points off the championship lead himself and doesn’t feel missing out on pole will affect his chances of victory tomorrow, a result which would launch him into title contention.
“It was interesting in Superpole because towards the end I thought I may as well give it one last go, even on a used qualifying tyre. I was disappointed with my first lap when the tyres were fresh and the last lap shows what maybe I could have done. I had one last go on lap four but the tyre ran out – which is normal because four laps on a qualifying tyre is not possible. We are in third place in the championship and the Kawasaki ZX-10R is working great and I am able to do a little bit more of what I want with the package, so we have proved that we can run at the front. Overall the season has gone well, but we are here now for another race and always improving. I am looking forward to the racing on Sunday. Not starting on pole position is very good because so far nobody has been able to convert it to a win yet. Starting in second place in Monza and Moscow was good and we can see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully the Kawasaki will be strong yet again.”
Eugene Laverty will play an interesting role on the sister Aprilia to Biaggi, starting from fourth, while Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa will have nothing to lose from the front of the second row. The defending champion is sixth with Leon Camier and Loris Baz completing the top eight. Chaz Davies was quickest of all in SP1 but was dumped out in the second session, leaving him tenth, while Leon Haslam was unable to better twelfth after crashing at the NGK chicane.