Carlos Checa, Leon Camier, Max Neukirchner, Loris Baz and Jonathan Rea will not be racing tomorrow. Istanbul Park and Nurburgring have sidelined five riders, leaving the grid diminished. Those who are racing, all but one of whom took part in Superpole, have missed out on track time due to poor track conditions or bad weather. And yet, the track is such a good track, and the qualifying so tight, that there is still a chance of a decent close race tomorrow, and the track looks to have been cleaned up by a combination of rain, oil, marshals, cat litter and race rubber.
Istanbul Park, Turkey
World Supersport qualifying was split into two sessions, with the last part being a three minute sprint, an incident with Fabien Foret and Fabio Menghi causing the red flag to once again be unfurled.
Kenan Sofuoglu and Sam Lowes kept each other honest as they both pushed for pole position, but, as they wend into the short sprint, Sofuoglu had the advantage, and try as Lowes might, the local man was able to grab pole position. Sofuoglu took pole position off Lowes twice and off himself three times, ending the session over a second ahead of third place.
All fifteen riders who registered a qualifying lap were automatically eligible for Superpole.
The first Superpole session was topped by Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri, beating the Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano. Both wildcards, along with Vittorio Iannuzzo, were eliminated.
Eugene Laverty was the first rider to get a 1’54 lap, four tenths of a second faster than second-fastest Davide Giugliano. Toni Elias was able to get into the last session, with the ninth fastest time of the session, in spite of two near-misses exiting corners.
World Supersport’s second free practice session started on time, on a damp track. With just under twenty minutes to go, oil was trailed across the whole track and was, in some places, sitting on top of water, bringing out the red flags. As the cleanup operation was underway, it became clear that there would not be enough time after the track was safe to run the remaining nineteen minutes. Rather than throw the Superbike schedule off, it was decided to run the remainder of the session after the big bikes had been out.
Rain this morning coupled with a World Supersport bike trailing oil all around the damp track in a red-flagged session gave us a free practice session with only twelve of the sixteen available riders recording laps. Sylvain Guintoli was fastest ahead of Jules Cluzel, neither of whom could break the 2'06 barrier in the poor conditions. World Supersport free practice will resume now this session is finished.
With overnight rain and a damp track, Ayrton Badovini had to wait until the track dried enough to record a qualifying time. Instead, before it was dry, the rains returned. Three riders ventured out and not one of them was able to approach their times from yesterday. Times from yesterday determine who goes into Superpole, with Badovini missing out and starting from last place on the grid; quite a change from last meeting's pole position.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Istanbul:
Merely fifteen riders have recorded qualifying times for the very first Istanbul round of World Superbike, three of them for the first time in their career. Three riders couldn’t race this weekend, due to injuries sustained at the Nurburgring and a green track this morning sidelined a further three, with only one likely to return tomorrow.
The first timed qualifying session was missing Carlos Checa, Ayrton Badovini and Leon Camier, all victims of crashes this morning, leading to only fifteen riders recording times. Sylvain Guintoli was once again fastest, with a 1’56.190, ahead of Marco Melandri, with Eugene Laverty being the only other rider to record a sub-1’57 lap.
Local rider Kenan Sofuoglu put in a valiant attept to grab provisional pole in front of his fans, but he just couldn't match rival Sam Lowes's 2'00.000 lap. Florian Marino and Roberto Tamburini continue their form from the earlier session, taking third and fourth fastest times respectively.