At a slightly cloudy but more importantly, a far less windy Portimão circuit in the Portuguese Algarve, the World Superbike riders were able to up the pace from yesterday’s qualifying in qualifying practice two, this morning.
|Rea has lead both qualifying practices
Photo: Pata Honda
Goldbet BMW rider Marco Melandri topped the proceedings early on, beating Jonathan Rea’s provisional pole time from QP1 by nearly two tenths of a second. Before long, the Aprilia duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty, along with Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes were also on the pace; with Guintoli going top of the pile, Sykes moving up into 3rd and Irishman Laverty nipping at Sykes’ heels in 4th.
Melandri responded to Guintoli and Sykes a few minutes later, dropping into the 1m 42s bracket putting him back on top, the other protagonists were putting in times just shy of a 1m 42s lap.
After 15 minutes most riders entered the pits to give the usual feedback to engineers and a small change of setup. A short while later, they returned on track with Althea Aprilia Racing’s Davide Giugliano being the first rider to move himself up the timing screens into 5th place, relegating former provisional pole sitter Jonathan Rea back into 6th. However, it didn’t take long for the Northern Irishman to regain his place once again ahead of the Italian.
With some minor changes to their motorcycles, Laverty and Sykes went back out on track for the next several minutes, exchanging 2nd position between themselves in a “to-me, to-you” chuckle brothers style, with Laverty staying ahead for the proceeding ten minutes. Both riders were just thousandths of a second away from joining Melandri in the seemingly exclusive 1m 42s bracket club.
With 9 minutes to go on the clock, and while most of his rivals were in their pit boxes, Laverty put in a storming lap time of 1m 42.738, bettering his former team mate Max Biaggi’s lap record around the circuit by over three hundredths of a second. Although, that is still some way off Tom Sykes’ overall fastest time of a 1m 41.415s lap. Laverty’s next circulation was not quite as fast, but still would have put him top of the pile ahead of Melandri by a decent margin.
A few minutes later and Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli also entered 1m 42s club, going ahead of Melandri into second place but still five hundredths of a second behind his Aprilia counterpart, Eugene Laverty.
In the final couple of minutes in the session, all riders were out on track trying to earn their place in this afternoon’s Superpole session. With just two minutes left on the clock, Jonathan Rea put in an astonishing lap of 1m 42.645s on his Pata Honda, blitzing the Aprilia duo by a tenth of a second. Meanwhile, Fixi Suzuki rider Leon Camier was able to jump ahead of Davide Guigliano into 6th place by several hundredths of a second.
As the chequered flag went out, no-one was able to respond to Rea’s time meaning that he goes into Superpole this afternoon ahead of Laverty, Guintoli, Melandri, Sykes, Camier, Giugliano, Fabrizio, Davies and Baz rounding out the top ten. The riders who won’t be competing in this afternoon’s Superpole are Iannuzzo, Lundh, Clementi and Sandi.
1. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1’42.645