2012 Donington World Superbikes: Saturday Roundup

A day of cold weather but clear skies and dry track gave us qualifying sessions that broke lap records and hinted at the promise of tomorrow's racing.

Tom Sykes took his fourth pole position out of five races this year and kept his Kawasaki much higher up the standings than it should be on paper. A fast rider and an enthused team is the best recipe for improving a racing motorcycle. Sykes looks like a rider on his way to his first dry win.

Leon Haslam, the local lad from down the road who used to run track days at Donington, has done more laps of Donington Park than any other rider in the paddock, by a considerable margin. His unusual line onto the first turn cuts deep to the left, across the pit lane entrance and could well catch out riders following him. His performance today showed that BMW's first World Superbike race could be very close indeed. His team today showed that they too were capable of providing him with a winning bike, as problems in Superpole 1 were dealt with efficiently and allowed Leon to grab 1st place in Superpole 2 and 2nd in Superpole 3. Marco Melandri also kept the pressure on and could well be fighting his BMW team-mate for the maiden BMW S1000 RR victory. A podium from either of the two, or both, is very likely tomorrow. The last place on the front row was filled by a resurgent Max Biaggi who struggled throughout qualifying, yet managed to keep sneaking through to the next round. He fared a lot better than his team-mate Eugene Laverty who struggled and ended up in 12th place.

With all three Effenbert bikes sharing a garage made for two bikes (Berger's bike is straddled diagonally between Guintoli's and Smrz's), the cramped conditions didn't seem to affect Sylvain Guintoli or Jakub Smrz who both made to through to the last Superpole and finish 5th and 8th respectively, although Smrz was on the podium last year and was fastest yesterday.

Jonathan Rea continues to outshine his bike and managed a 6th place ahead of an on-form Leon Camier.

In World Supersports, Sam Lowes was suffering from food poisoning and this may have affected his strength today, but luckily he was able to get in fast laps when they counted and is starting from the front row of the grid, behind fellow PTR rider Jules Cluzel, who seems to have settled into his bike.

Will it be a first win in the dry for Tom Sykes, or will BMW get their maiden victory at a track both their riders love? Don't forget you can never write off Biaggi or Checa, even if Checa is having a day he'd rather forget, and the Effenbert boys are eager to make headlines for their racing instead of their team's weird antics. 

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