Sep 8, 2012
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by David Swarts
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Max Biaggi (3).
FIM Superbike World Championship
September 8, 2012
Final Qualifying Results, After Superpole (all on Pirelli tires):
From Superpole Knockout Session Three:
1. Max BIAGGI, Italy (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:53.855
2. Tom SYKES, UK (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:53.904
3. Marco MELANDRI, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:53.912
4. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:54.148
5. Jonathan REA, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:54.300
6. Carlos CHECA, Spain (Ducati 1098R), 1:54.322
7. Leon CAMIER, UK (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:55.165
8. Loris BAZ, France (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:55.734
From Superpole Knockout Session Two:
9. Davide GIUGLIANO, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:54.540
10. Chaz DAVIES, UK (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:54.800
11. Lorenzo ZANETTI, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:55.671
12. Leon HASLAM, UK (BMW S1000RR), no time recorded in Suerpole Two
From Superpole Knockout Session One:
13. Michel FABRIZIO, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:56.290
14. John HOPKINS, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:56.530
15. Niccolo CANEPA, Italy (Ducati 1098R), no time recorded in Superpole One
16. David SALOM, Spain (Kawasaki ZX-10R), no time recorded in Superpole One
The Rest of the Grid:
17. Ayrton BADOVINI, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:56.246
18. Sylvain GUINTOLI, France (Ducati 1098R), 1:56.465
19. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:57.101
20. Lorenzo LANZI, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:57.504
21. Maxime BERGER, France (Ducati 1098R), 1:57.729
22. Brett McCORMICK, Canada (Ducati 1098R), 1:58.177
23. Alexander LUNDH, Sweden (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:58.567
24. Norino BRIGNOLA, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:59.385
More, from a press release issued by Infront Motor Sports:
Biaggi posts strong Tissot-Superpole performance
NÃ¼rburgring (Germany), Saturday 8 September 2012 In near-perfect riding conditions Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) set a new track best of 1 minute 53.855 seconds at the NÃ¼rburgring to secure his first Tissot-Superpole win of the year and only the fifth of his career. The 2010 world champion was in superb form and set a lap time that not even the 2012 king of Tissot-Superpole, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), could beat, despite a couple of attempts.
Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) rode confidently to third place on the grid for Sunday's eni FIM Superbike World Championship races. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing) joins the front row party in fourth, with Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) putting himself fifth.
Max Biaggi: "It was a very good lap time, and I'm happy for that because we've been working well all weekend. No rain, all sunshine and we have kept the work going. This lap I pulled together and I'm happy with what I got. The top 3 in the championship are all here in the first row, I'm sure it will be difficult tomorrow but I'll keep my head down and do my best."
Tom Sykes: "We did good work all weekend like in Moscow and I'm feeling confident for tomorrow. Unfortunately unlike the start of the season we didn't benefit so much from the qualifying tyres this time round. But my aim is tomorrow, I tried to get the pole on my fourth lap with the qualifier in the final run but overall I'm very happy, and we'll see how we go tomorrow."
Marco Melandri: "It's a good place for me to be for the races tomorrow. I was always struggling in qualifying but today we had a good feeling with the qualifying tyre so my BMW was working pretty good. I'm so happy to be here. Tomorrow's going to be two long races, but we will see and it's a good point to start from the front row. Here it's like my fourth 'home' race with BMW, but my goal is to get good results tomorrow."
Reigning champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) secured sixth place while a spirited series of laps throughout Superpole from Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) puts him seventh. The last front row spot will go to Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team).
Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) set himself up in ninth place on the grid after failing to make it to Superpole 3, while Chaz Davies was another just outside the top two rows, tenth on his ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia. It was a tough day for rider injuries, with NiccolÃ² Canepa (Red Devils Roma Ducati) breaking his right tibia and David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) crashing hard in Superpole 1 and being taken to Koblenz hospital for precautionary scans.
Times: 1. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'53.855 average 162.428 kph; 2. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'53.904; 3. Melandri (BMW) 1'53.912; 4. Laverty (Aprilia) 1'54.148; 5. Rea (Honda) 1'54.300; 6. Checa (Ducati) 1'54.322; 7. Camier (Suzuki) 1'55.165; 8. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'55.734; 9. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'54.540; 10. Davies (Aprilia) 1'54.800; 11. Zanetti (Ducati) 1'55.671; 12. Haslam (BMW) 1'55.082; 13. Fabrizio (BMW) 1'56.290; 14. Hopkins (Suzuki) 1'56.530; 15. Canepa (Ducati) ; 16. Salom (Kawasaki) ; etc.
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) secured another pole position for himself this season, his fifth in all, after leapfrogging his fellow PTR rider Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) in the final session. Lowes was unable to improve on his Friday best time today. Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) almost took second but lost his advantage in the final split, while championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini) made it onto the front row for Sunday's 19-lap race. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) relied on his Friday time for fifth, with Russian podium hero Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport) again strong in sixth place. Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) was seventh.
Times: 1. Cluzel (Honda) 1'59.201 average 155.143 kph; 2. Lowes (Honda) 1'59.210; 3. Parkes (Honda) 1'59.226; 4. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1'59.521; 5. Foret (Kawasaki) 1'59.637; 6. Leonov (Yamaha) 1'59.816; 7. Talmacsi (Honda) 2'00.079; 8. Morais (Kawasaki) 2'00.180; etc.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki rider Bryan Staring headed up combined qualifying after setting the fastest time in the second session, pushing his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R to a lap time of 1 minute 59.084 seconds. It was his first pole position in this class. Just under three-tenths behind him Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) was second fastest and to keep the close competition in the series at a high level, Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) was third. Day one fastest man Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) was fourth overall, with British rider Kevin Coghlan (DMC Racing Ducati) improving his placing on the grid to fifth, with a lap time just over one second behind Staring's.
Times: 1. Staring (Kawasaki) 1'59.084 average 155.295 kph; 2. La Marra (Ducati) 1'59.364; 3. Barrier (BMW) 1'59.394; 4. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 1'59.670; 5. Coghlan (Ducati) 2'00.112; 6. Reiterberger (BMW) 2'00.215; 7. Mercado (Kawasaki) 2'00.346; 8. Massei (Honda) 2'00.391; etc.
Superstock 600 - Race
Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) set a new lap record of 2 minutes 02.736 seconds to win the ten-lap UEM Superstock 600 European Championship race at the NÃ¼rburgring, and in doing so take the lead in the championship, all despite riding with a plate and screws in his recently injured collarbone. Van der Mark now leads Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha) by two points in the championship, 169 to 167. Russo was second in the German round, 1.814 seconds back on front-runner van der Mark, while Franco Morbidelli (Bike Service RT Yamaha) took the last podium place on offer.
Results: 1. Vd Mark (Honda) 10 Laps/51.370 km in 20'33.723 average 149.898 kph; 2. Russo (Yamaha) 1.814; 3. Morbidelli (Yamaha) 5.269; 4. Chesaux (Honda) 7.134; 5. Nestorovic (Yamaha) 10.073; 6. Jones (Yamaha) 10.147; 7. Cecchini (Honda) 18.875; 8. Nekvasil (Yamaha) 19.664; etc.
Points (after 8 of 10 rounds) 1. Vd Mark 169; 2. Russo 167; 3. Duwelz 78; 4. Vitali 59; 5. Nestorovic 58; 6. Schacht 55; 7. Calero Perez 54; 8. Morbidelli 52; etc.
KTM European Junior Cup
Lukas Wimmer (MSC Schalchen) set a 2 minute 12.481 second lap time to score pole in the KTM European Junior Cup, heading off Artur Wielebski (Bogdanka Junior Team Poland) and his team-mate Adrian Pesek on the way. All 20 riders improved their lap times today, in readiness for Sunday's seven-lap race. Kyran De Lang (Silverton Midas) was fourth quickest.
Times: 1. Wimmer (AUT) 2'12.481; 2. Wielebski (POL) 2'13.304; 3. Pasek (POL) 2'13.918; 4. De Lange (RSA) 2'14.155; 5. Garcia (ESP) 2'14.410; 6. Vidal (ESP) 2'14.484; 7. Fazzina (ITA) 2'14.968; 8. Demoulin J. (FRA) 2'15.374; etc.
More, from a press release issued by Honda:
Rea happy with fifth in Germany
Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow's two 12th round World Superbike championship races from the second row of the grid after setting the fifth fastest time in the Superpole qualifying session this afternoon at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The Honda World Superbike Team rider was fastest over the two regulation qualifying sessions, but the 25-year-old felt that he didn't get the best use of his Pirelli qualifiers during the final Superpole outing.
Pole position was taken by Italian Max Biaggi, with Tom Skyes, Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty completing the front row of the grid for tomorrow's two 20-lap races around the 5.137km Nurburgring circuit.
Rea's Honda team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, was unable to compete in today's Superpole session but the Japanese ace made a significant improvement in his lap time during the second free practice session and is confident of two strong performances tomorrow.
Jonathan Rea P5, 1m54.300s
Today was OK and we have an OK pace but, when we put the qualifier in, the fuel mapping was maybe a little bit too conservative for that kind of tyre so I don't think I used it as much as I could. Overall the bike's not so bad and we're definitely in the ball park. We still have a few things to try in morning warm-up to make our race pace a couple of tenths faster, but I'm enjoying riding more than before. I like the circuit here but they're going to be two long hard races. Fifth is the right side of the grid but it seems like the tyre wear is going to be crucial. We need to make sure that we've covered all our bases when the tyre drops off, because it's going to be critical for the last few laps.
Hiroshi Aoyama P19, 1m57.101
We improved almost two seconds from yesterday but the others also went faster. We can still improve tomorrow and, although the grid position is not very good, we'll see what's happening going into turn one! I think there are a lot of opportunities to pass in turn one and the races are 20 laps so we'll see what happens. We'll adjust the bike a little bit in the morning to check a few things and then we are ready for the races.
Pieter Breddels technical co-ordinator
Hiroshi made good progress today. We improved the setting and he improved his lap time quite a bit. Unfortunately, that was only in the afternoon free practice session, when he was 13th, and that was a little bit too late to qualify for Superpole. With Jonathan we got fifth and we were a little disappointed not to get on the front row. Then again, fifth is pretty good but we're struggling in some sections just looking for a few tenth on race pace. If we can find those I think we can run for the podium tomorrow. Normally we run pretty well here at the Nurburgring, so we'll see.
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:
A great Superpole at the NÃ¼rburgring for Max Biaggi first place and for the entire Aprilia Racing Team with Laverty also on the front row.
NÃ¼rburgring (Germany), 8 September 2012 - Max Biaggi takes his first Superpole of the season and the fifth in his SBK career on the legendary German track. The multiple world champion will start from the first spot on the grid tomorrow.
After coming through the first two Superpole sessions without any trouble whatsoever, even retiring to the pits with still a few minutes left before the chequered flag in the second, Max put forth his best effort in the decisive final session. With a couple sensational near-identical laps (1'53.855 and 1'53.904), the Roman took the first spot on the starting grid, also setting the track record and leaving Superpole specialist Tom Sykes behind him, followed by Marco Melandri and team mate Eugene Laverty.
Max's great result arrived after two days of sessions in which the Corsair certainly did not hold back, accumulating a large quantity of information and sensations along with his team. His pace is excellent and this puts Max in the right condition to make a good play for the races tomorrow which, in proper Superbike tradition, promise to be extremely close in any case, since the top six times are within less than half a second.
"Pole position is the result of a weekend where we have worked well said Max Biaggi focusing a lot on the set-up and taking maximum advantage of the practice sessions. I managed to avoid any mistakes on the fast lap and I'm also satisfied with our race pace. This doesn't mean that the races tomorrow will be easy on the contrary there are a lot of riders within a few tenths of a second, so I expect a truly heated Sunday where we will definitely be able to have our say".
Eugene Laverty put his mark on the Aprilia Racing Team's great performance, taking fourth place and a spot on the front row. Ninth in Superpole 1 and third in the second session, the Northern Irishman ended the day with 1'54.148 on the clock, which places him in the last spot of the front row. His good race pace should provide him with a shot at being a key player tomorrow as well.
"We made excellent progress yesterday and today. I knew I had a shot at the front row with the pace we had been building session after session. The top three riders in the championship standings are ahead of me, so that makes the result even more impressive. Tomorrow I expect to be competitive. Starting from the front row is always a good calling card".
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:
Sykes Just Misses Pole But Finds Good Pace
WSBK, NÃ¼rburgring, Germany, 8 September 2012
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) will start the 20-lap Superbike races at NÃ¼rburgring on Sunday from second position on the grid, with his team-mate Loris Baz also a strong qualifier, in eighth.
Sykes, twice a race winner on his official Ninja ZX-10R machine this year, was in contention for what would have been his eighth pole position start of the season, but he missed out on his best chance using fresh qualifying tyres in Superpole three, he did a further three laps and came close to eventual pole man Max Biaggi, only 0.049 seconds from him as the clock timed out.
For Baz, also a race winner in 2012, getting into the second Superpole session, and therefore guaranteeing a start on one of the front three rows is a consistent aim in his rookie season. He did more than that today and he went into the third and final Superpole session, and he now starts from the second row, in eighth place.
All competitors and spectators welcomed consistently dry and bright weather at the 5.137km NÃ¼rburgring circuit, through all of practice and qualifying. For Baz it was particularly important to help him and his crew find a good set-up for this challenging circuit, and each delivered in the chase for fast lap times.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki rider David Salom fell hard in the first Superpole session and has been taken to Koblenz Hospital for precautionary scans. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) was 23rd in qualifying.
Superstock 1000 FIM Cup rider Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) rode to pole on his Ninja ZX-10R, his first ever start from first place in this class. He has high hopes of going for another win on Sunday, to add to the two race victories he has scored this year already. MRS Kawasaki rider Jeremy Guarnoni was fourth on the grid.
Tom Sykes: "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."
Loris Baz: "We were looking to get into Superpole two and if everything was going well we would look to get into Superpole three. We did that so we must be very happy. We have worked well since the beginning of the weekend, even though we had some little set-up problems yesterday. This morning and in the second free practice we found a few settings that made the bike more comfortable for the race distance. In the afternoon I did two good long runs so I am really confident that we have found a lot of positive things for the race things. We have a really good race pace. It is the first time that I did everything good in Superpole and it went as we planned. I used a qualifier, a qualifier, then race tyre in the Superpole sessions and I did my best lap with the race tyre in Superpole three."
More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:
NÃ¼rburgring Qualifying Practice 2 & Superpole.
Saturday, 8th September 2012.
Weather conditions: Sunny.
Temperature: Air: 21 25 Â°C, Track: 30 48 Â°C
Number of riders participating: 24/23 from 13 teams
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) 1:55.157 min
Fastest lap Superpole 3: Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) 1:53.855 min
Front row start at the home round: Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport had a successful Superpole qualifying at NÃ¼rburgring (GER). Factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) will start the third last round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship from third on the grid, missing out on pole position by only 0.057 seconds. His team-mate Leon Haslam (GBR) was denied a top result by a crash in Superpole 2 and will start from 12th on his BMW S 1000 RR. In today's second qualifying practice and free practice sessions both riders were already fast. Leon was still suffering pain from his injured left shoulder but overcame it again. At the start of Superpole 1, both riders went out on race tyres, setting the fastest and second fastest time. After four minutes, the session had to be red flagged due to a crash. After the restart both Marco and Leon stayed in the garage as their times qualified them comfortably for Superpole 2. In this second part, both riders went out on qualifying tyres. While Marco topped the time sheets again with a temporary new lap record of 1:54.056 minutes, Leon crashed in the last sector and had to settle for 12th. In the deciding Superpole 3, Marco went out on his second qualifying tyre and bettered his lap time to 1:53.912 minutes, qualifying third on the front row. Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini (both ITA) of the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team will start tomorrow's races from 13th and 17th respectively.
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:55.182 min (P2) / Fastest lap FP: 1:55.233 min (P4) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:53.912 min (P3)
"I am very happy to be in the front row here at NÃ¼rburgring, which is my second home race. In the past I have always struggled in qualifying but today I had a good feeling with the qualifying tyre. My BMW was working very well. The two races tomorrow will be very long. It will not be easy for the tyre or the riders so we will see but the front row is a good place to start from. It was nice to bring the BMW to the front row for the home round today but my goal is to be successful tomorrow."
Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:55.541 min (P7) / Fastest lap FP: 1:55.385 min (P5) / Fastest lap Superpole 2: Crash (P12)
"In Superpole 2 with the extra grip of the qualifyer tyre the engine braking changed quite a lot. Due to that I made a mistake in turn one. I carried on pushing trying to get a lap in but at the end of the fast straight the front brake locked and down I went. I will get some more physio treatment now and have a rest before tomorrow so all should be good for the races. If we can sort out the few remaining little issues we had this weekend we can definitely run at the front and go for the win. It wasn't an ideal qualifying with 12th position but a good start tomorrow can make it up."
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
"For one side it was a very good Superpole, for the other side it was an unlucky one but overall I am really happy because compared to yesterday we have made huge improvements with both riders in terms of race pace as well as in terms of a flying lap. Unfortunately Leon had a crash while he was pushing but we are sure that tomorrow he will start as well as usual and fight to get back the positions he lost in Superpole. Marco and his crew have done a great job today. They have fixed a few issues Marco had complained about yesterday and we are almost ready for the races. We believe that we still need to improve a few tenths to go Max Biaggi's pace. That is the target for our work to do tonight and we want to be ready for tomorrow."
More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:
CHECA AND ALTHEA RACING QUALIFY ON THE SECOND ROW FOR TOMORROW'S RACES AT THE RING
NÃ¼rburg (Germany), Saturday 8 September 2012: Superbike fans are by now used to the exciting spectacle of the Superpole and today's session at the German NÃ¼rburgring did not disappoint. After a close battle, the Althea Racing team and riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano qualified sixth and ninth for tomorrow's twelfth round of the Superbike World Championship.
Team Althea Racing's riders were on track this morning for second qualifying. In similarly sunny conditions to yesterday both Carlos and Davide were able to improve slightly on yesterday's already extremely fast times. While the current champion shaved a further tenth of his time towards mid-session, Davide managed to lap four tenths quicker with respect to his best tim set yesterday. Considering that the times of all of the top riders dropped in the final stages this morning, the Althea flagbearers closed the session in fourth (Carlos 1m55.2) and sixth (Davide 1m55.3) position once the results of the two qualifying sessions were combined. Both therefore qualified without difficulty for this afternoon's Superpole.
Superpole 1: in the first Superpole phase both riders were out on track on race tyres. The session was briefly interrupted when a crash for Salom left the track covered in gravel. Once it was cleaned up riders returned to the track and Carlos recorded a fast lap of 1m54.8 that put him in sixth place. Davide's best lap, 1m55.5 recorded in the final seconds assured him of twelfth place and safe passage to phase two.
Superpole 2: this time Carlos improved by half a second on his time set in phase one, recording a 1m54.3 in the opening stages, enough to assure him of fourth position at the session's end. The 1m54.5 recorded by Davide was not enough for a top eight position and unfortunately there was no time to make a second exit and improve further. The Italian rider therefore closed in final ninth position.
Superpole 3: in this final phase, and with a qualifying tyre still available, Carlos made two fast laps, the first of which proved to be his best (1m54.3). This time signifies that he will line up on the second row of tomorrow's race grid, in sixth position.
"Although we were not able to match the pace of the leading riders in the Superpole, I think that we will have the chance to be with them in the race. We've seen that the rear tyre performance drops after some laps and so we'll need to try and manage that situation. We expect hot races and I think riders will start to suffer with the tyres after about the tenth lap. Overall we have been working well in the sessions and have recorded some good times both in practice and qualifying and I think we have a good race package the target tomorrow will be to stay in the front group."
"After our performance in the earlier sessions I thought we could do a bit better in the Superpole. The interruption in phase one didn't help and after that, though I was doing my best, I wasn't able to make the most of the qualifier or make the fast lap that we needed. So we will start from the third row from where I hope to be able to make a strong start and stay with the leading group. The good work we've done so far this weekend gives me confidence for the races."
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
"It was quite a good Superpole although we expected a little more, especially for Carlos because we were confident that we could do a little better with respect to last year's times. I don't want to keep coming back to the same topic but we are not as competitive as we were last year; the four cylinders have progressed and that's that. This is perhaps the track where the gap was going to be least felt however the gap remains and we have not closed it as much as we had hoped to. As far as Davide is concerned, unfortunately it was a difficult session because the interruption of the Superpole meant that we had already wasted one tyre at the start and this had an effect. In any case, he has shown that he is fast, with a solid race pace and so despite starting from the third row I believe that he can ride a strong race, with the leaders."
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:
FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier qualified for the 12th round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship in a strong seventh place at Nurburgring this afternoon.
Camier made his way into this afternoon's Superpole after positing the eighth fastest time in this morning's final qualifying session; he then backed that up with the fifth quickest lap in the second free practice. Camier progressed through Superpole 1 and 2 - with a superb lap right at the end of the second period to give him fifth overall - before finally putting his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 on to the second row and into seventh position in Superpole 3. Camier is feeling confident for tomorrow's two races and will be looking to push for a top-five finish.
John Hopkins continued to improve at the demanding 5,137m circuit that he has little experience of. He qualified for Superpole and will start from the fourth row after recording the 14th fastest time in the first session. Hopkins has made huge steps this weekend and his best time from today was over two-and-a-half seconds better than his quickest in the first free practice yesterday, which certainly points towards further improvements on race-day.
Today's Superpole was held in warm and sunny conditions at the German circuit, with Italian Max Biaggi on an Aprilia taking his first pole position of the season. Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki was second with current championship leader Marco Melandri of BMW third. Aprilia's Eugene Laverty filled the final front row position with the current World Champion, Ducati's Carlos Checa, in sixth.
The FIXI Crescent Suzuki pair will line up for the first of tomorrow's 20-lap races at 12.00hrs local time (11.00hrs BST), with the second outing scheduled for a start time three-and-a-half hours later.
"The red flag at the start of the first Superpole unfortunately ruined our plans for the rest of the session, because I had put in a really good lap on a race tyre, but it was cancelled out because of the red flag - so then I had to use a qualifier to make sure I got into Superpole 2. I then used another qualifier in Superpole 2 and managed a good enough lap to get into Superpole 3, but I then had no qualifiers left and just had to ride as fast as I could on race rubber. The second row of the grid is not bad though and as long as I can make good starts I think I can fight with the leaders. My FIXI Crescent Suzuki is working pretty well round here and I'm looking forward to the races, even though I know it's going to be a really hard day tomorrow."
"Today, like yesterday, we tried a lot of different settings to try and solve the chatter issues we've had all year. We definitely made good progress and I was happy to go over a second faster than yesterday. Because of the much higher temperature this afternoon, we used the free practice to re-test some of the tyres and managed to find some good ones for the races tomorrow. I had a little tumble today in turn one, but was able to pick up the bike and get it back to the pits ok. In Superpole 1, I chose the softest tyre because I thought it would be the best option, but the red flag came out and I never got a chance to get a good feeling for it. When I went out again, the tyre was moving around and spinning - because of the heat - and I couldn't go fast enough to get into Superpole 2. If the conditions had been cooler, I'm sure I would've managed it for sure. My grid position is not great and turns one and two are tough, so it's crucial I get some good starts - and that's my first goal."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I think it's been another good day for the team and I'm particularly pleased with Leon. He has been on it all day and his performance in Superpole was great - and probably would've been even better had it not been for the red flag. Despite that, he got his head down, got on with the job and showed the true potential of the bike. He is where we want him to be - fighting with the top WSBK riders - and his result today is down to the hard graft he and the whole FIXI Crescent Suzuki team have put in.
"John tried his best today, but just couldn't do it. But I believe that tomorrow he will charge as hard as he can and be going all-out for good results. The tyres have been good and consistent this weekend and that's allowed us to put in a lot of quick laps. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day, but Leon, John and the team will be giving it everything we've got - as usual."