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Sep 21, 2012

Melandri Claims Provisional World Superbike Pole Position At Portimao

Marco Melandri (33).
FIM Superbike World Championship
Portimao, Portugal
September 21, 2012
Qualifying Session One Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Marco MELANDRI, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:43.196
2. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:43.580
3. Tom SYKES, UK (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:43.731
4. Jonathan REA, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:43.886
5. Leon HASLAM, UK (BMW S1000RR), 1:43.921
6. Leon CAMIER, UK (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:43.949
7. Max BIAGGI, Italy (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:43.996
8. Carlos CHECA, Spain (Ducati 1098R), 1:43.999
9. Michel FABRIZIO, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:44.373
10. Chaz DAVIES, UK (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:44.390
11. Ayrton BADOVINI, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:44.429
12. Sylvain GUINTOLI, France (Ducati 1098R), 1:44.499
13. Loris BAZ, France (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:44.542
14. David SALOM, Spain (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:44.552
15. David GIUGLIANO, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:44.602
16. Lorenzo ZANETTI, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:44.790
17. Brett McCORMICK, Canada (Ducati 1098R), 1:45.082
18. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:45.318
19. John HOPKINS, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:45.655
20. Alexander LUNDH, Sweden (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:45.817
21. Lorenzo LANZI, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:46.024
22. Matteo BAIOCCO, Italy (Ducati 1098R), 1:46.954
23. Norino BRIGNOLA, Italy (BMW S1000RR), 1:48.416

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:

Portimão Free Practice & Qualifying Practice 1.
Friday, 21st September 2012.

Weather conditions: Sunny with light clouds.
Temperature: Air: 26 29 °C, Track: 40 42 °C
Number of riders participating: 23 from 13 teams
Fastest lap Free Practice: Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 1:44.343 min
Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 1:43.196 min

Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport secured provisional pole position for Sunday's races at Portimão. The Portuguese track welcomed the teams with sunny and hot conditions. BMW Motorrad factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) set the fastest time in today's first qualifying practice. His team-mate Leon Haslam (GBR) rounded up the successful Friday for the squad. He qualified for the provisional second row, finishing the session in fifth on his BMW S 1000 RR. Despite the good results, the team is well aware that there is still a lot of work to do to best prepare for the races. Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini (both ITA) of the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team finished the first qualifying practice in ninth and 11th respectively. Portimão hosts the 13th and penultimate round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship.

Marco Melandri:
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:44.456 min (P2)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:43.196 min (P1)
"The lap time was very good, but at the moment I am still worrying about the race. We struggled a lot with chattering and the race tyre did not work so well for us. I can do one fast lap, but I cannot be consistent so we have a lot of work to do to try to make the bike smoother for the race. This morning the grip was not so good. This afternoon, when it was much warmer, the grip was better but we had more vibrations. We will now try to fix this issue but it is not easy."

Leon Haslam:
Fastest lap Free Practice: 1:44.500 min (P4)/Fastest lap Qualifying Practice 1: 1:43.921 min (P5)
"I am pretty confident. We just have a few issues which we still need to resolve; we have to make some more improvements on the chassis and work on the electronics. The track is a little bit dirty and has not that much grip but I am quite happy. We are pretty confident on the harder tyres, we just need to improve with the soft tyres. My shoulder is still a bit painful. We are working on different strappings each session but it is ten times better than in Germany so I am happy."

Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
"Today was a good start to the event. It is definitely nice to finish the first qualifying practice in first and fifth place. We are pleased that Leon could be so fast even though he is not one hundred percent fit. But we still have to work hard despite the very good lap times. We have to improve our race pace. Marco is not happy about the front end of the bike so he will be working on that. With Leon we will try to improve the engine management but I am confident that we can make another step forward for tomorrow."

More, from a press release issued by Honda World Superbike Team:

Rea on provisional front row at Portimao

Jonathan Rea set the fourth fastest time in this afternoon's opening qualifying session for Sunday's penultimate 2012 World Superbike championship round at Portimao in Portugal.

The 25-year-old Honda World Superbike Team rider from Northern Ireland lapped the 4.592km circuit on the Algarve in a time of 1m43.886s, six tenths behind provisional pole sitter Marco Melandri. Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes were second and third fastest respectively.

While Rea has enjoyed recent success at Portimao, including five podium finishes in the last six World Superbike races, his Honda World Superbike tema-mate Hiroshi Aoyama has never ridden at the undulating and demanding Portuguese track.

The 30-year-old Japanese rider spent much of today's practice and qualifying sessions learning Portimao's ups, downs and blind crests, ending the day in 18th place.

Jonathan Rea P4 1m43.886s

I'm satisfied with today because we're there or thereabouts and we don't really have the best feeling with the bike yet. I think tomorrow we can improve our acceleration grip a lot by going back to some linkages that we used last year and that I feel more confident with at this circuit where acceleration grip really outweighs edge grip. Coming from the last few rounds where edge grip has been important, we need to go the other way here and that's our main issue. I've also used today to get back up to speed with the bike again because it's quite a bit different to the bike I was riding last weekend! But for the first day here, it's not so bad.

Hiroshi Aoyama P18 1m45.318s

This circuit is even more difficult that it seemed on the scooter yesterday. It's quite bumpy and quite a lot of corners are blind it's difficult to find the right line here. Other corners are really nice and, if you know the track a little, I think you can have a lot of fun here. Unfortunately, I'm not having fun yet! Every lap of every session I am learning, but the bumps make things a bit more difficult because you cannot take what you think is the ideal line. I need more laps but we also need a better set up with the bike to make some more progress tomorrow.

Pieter Breddels technical co-ordinator

Hiroshi is here for the first time and it's a very hard track to learn with all the uphill downhill sections. We know that everyone takes some time to learn this place. At the end of the day he finished 18th which is not so bad. Of course, tomorrow we want him in Superpole so there is still some work to do yet. Jonathan came from his GP ride in Misano and he used the first session to get used to the feeling with this bike again. In the afternoon he made a significant improvement and got up to fourth and we're quite happy with that. We expect more good things from him tomorrow and Sunday.

More, from a press release issued by Infront Motor Sports:

Melandri leads the chasing pack on day one

Portimao (Portugal), Friday 21 September 2012 Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) proved the fastest rider on day one at Portimao, with a 1 minute 43.196 second lap taking him ahead of Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing). Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was third, and completing a sequence of different machines in the top four places, Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) was fourth.

Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) posted a time to get him into the top five, while Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) continued his run of good form in sixth place. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) was seventh and 2011 World Champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) eighth in a field of 23 riders. Checa was 0.803 seconds from Melandri's best time.

Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) scored ninth on the provisional grid, while Nürburgring race winner Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Aprilia) secured tenth place. Fabrizio's team-mate Ayrton Badovini was 11th and Ducati privateer Sylvain Guintoli (PATA Racing) completed the top 12 places. Gorgeous sunshine bathed the first day qualifying sessions, with temperatures almost reaching 30 degrees.

Times: 1. Melandri (BMW) 1'43.196 average 160.192 kph; 2. Laverty (Aprilia) 1'43.580; 3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'43.731; 4. Rea (Honda) 1'43.886; 5. Haslam (BMW) 1'43.921; 6. Camier (Suzuki) 1'43.949; 7. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'43.996; 8. Checa (Ducati) 1'43.999; 9. Fabrizio (BMW) 1'44.373; 10. Davies (Aprilia) 1'44.390; 11. Badovini (BMW) 1'44.429; 12. Guintoli (Ducati) 1'44.499; 13. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'44.542; 14. Salom (Kawasaki) 1'44.552; 15. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'44.602; 16. Zanetti (Ducati) 1'44.790; etc.

World Supersport

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) eased away to the overnight provisional pole position at Portimao, setting a 1 minute 46.080 seconds lap time to lead his PTR team-mate Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda).

A close third behind Cluzel was Fabien Foret (Intermoto Step Racing Kawasaki) the top Kawasaki rider in the rankings, with another Honda rider Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products) fourth. A great ride from MSD R-N Racing Team India Kawasaki rider Florian Marino put him fifth, with championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini) inside the top six.

Times: 1. Lowes (Honda) 1'46.080 average 155.837 kph; 2. Cluzel (Honda) 1'46.374; 3. Foret (Kawasaki) 1'46.399; 4. Parkes (Honda) 1'46.522; 5. Marino (Kawasaki) 1'46.827; 6. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1'46.965; 7. Linfoot (Kawasaki) 1'47.027; 8. Roccoli (Yamaha) 1'47.230; 9. Morais (Kawasaki) 1'47.289; 10. Iannuzzo (Triumph) 1'47.332; etc.

Superstock 1000

Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) led the field home in the first qualifying session at Portimao, with the remaining championship contenders packing out the top places. Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) was second fastest, Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) was third, with Christoffer Bergman (BWG Racing Kawasaki) completing the early top four. Championship leader Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) was fifth, 0.839 seconds from the leading position.

Times: 1. Barrier (BMW) 1'46.700 average 154.932 kph; 2. Staring (Kawasaki) 1'47.133; 3. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 1'47.237; 4. Bergman (Kawasaki) 1'47.328; 5. La Marra (Ducati) 1'47.539; 6. Lussiana (Kawasaki) 1'47.616; 7. Massei (Honda) 1'47.792; 8. Barragan (Kawasaki) 1'47.831; 9. Savadori (Ducati) 1'47.986; 10. Mercado (Kawasaki) 1'48.169; etc.

Superstock 600

Warm and dry conditions helped the top three UEM European Superstock 600 Championship riders make an early impact in the first qualifying session, with Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha) posting the fastest time, Adrian Nestorovic (Team MTM Racing Yamaha) going second and Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team) third. These three were separated by only 0.088 seconds, as van Der Mark and Russo continue their fight to see which one of them will be champion this season. MTM rider Mike Jones (MTM Racing Team Yamaha) was fourth in first qualifying, just over a second from Russo.

Times: 1. Russo (Yamaha) 1'48.357 average 152.562 kph; 2. Nestorovic (Yamaha) 1'48.438; 3. Vd Mark (Honda) 1'48.445; 4. Jones (Yamaha) 1'49.431; 5. Cecchini (Honda) 1'49.701; 6. Calero Perez (Yamaha) 1'49.780; 7. Davies (Kawasaki) 1'49.832; 8. Chesaux (Honda) 1'49.912; 9. Vitali (Yamaha) 1'49.988; 10. Schacht (Honda) 1'50.076; etc.

More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:


Portimao (Portugal), Friday 21st September 2012: today the Althea Racing team was on track at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the opening sessions of the thirteenth and penultimate round of the eni World Superbike Championship. Riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano closed this afternoon's first qualifying session in eighth and fifteenth position respectively.

The riders made the most of dry and warm conditions (air 26ËšC, track 40ËšC) during this morning's first free practice session. Carlos and Davide got quickly to work with their technicians, making changes to the set-up of their 1198 bikes throughout the session. Carlos recorded his quickest lap mid-session (1m44.7) and closed in eighth place, four tenths of a second behind the first-placed rider. Giugliano worked systematically with his team to refine his bike; he made a best lap of 1m45.0, recorded in the final minutes, to close in thirteenth position.

Similar conditions for the afternoon's qualifying session. Carlos was immediately up among the frontrunners and continued to improve on his times throughout the session. With respect to this morning, he was able to lower his time by eight tenths of a second. Considering that the times of almost all riders dropped this afternoon, Carlos finished in eighth place once more, but with a best of 1m43.9 while Giugliano closed in final fifteenth position with a fastest lap time of 1m44.6 half a second quicker than his best set in the morning. Both riders hope to improve further during tomorrow's second qualifying session.

Carlos Checa:
"We need to find more stability with the bike. Today didn't go badly but we're losing at least four tenths and so to scored great results here on Sunday will be hard. We'll continue to do our best and I hope we can see some improvement tomorrow and go from there. This afternoon I was using the wider tyre solution which seems to be the most suitable but we'll continue to work tomorrow and see where we go."

Davide Giugliano:
"To tell the truth today was one of the few times that I've been able to ride well right from the first session. At recent rounds I've gone pretty fast on Fridays but on a bike that is not totally right, while today we seem to have less rideability issues and this bodes well. We're expecting nice sunshine all weekend and so I'm confident ahead of the races. We need to give it our best shot, and keep trying right to the end."

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:



Portimao, 21 September 2012 The Autodromo do Algarve, one of the best liked tracks by World Superbike riders and the setting of the penultimate round of the 2012 season, did not disappoint during this first day of practice sessions. The chronology of the times put on the board, if you leave out a few exploits, points to a compact ranking with many of the riders evenly matched in terms of pace. In this situation, current ranking leader Max Biaggi tried to gather as much information as possible. The data collected today will serve as the foundation to set up the day's work tomorrow, a day which will culminate in an important Superpole session.

The seventh best qualifying time, evaluated in light of these considerations, has the Corsair looking forward to tomorrow's sessions with moderate confidence.

"A day of intense work said Max Biaggi The track was dirty this morning, but it improved in the afternoon. We tried a lot of things, both on a set-up level and with the tyres. This evening it will be important to carefully analyse the data and choose which path to take tomorrow. We have a few ideas which I hope will allow us to take another step toward finding a fast pace, but above all consistency".

Eugene Laverty's Friday was characterised by consistent progress. The rider from Toomebridge still has room to grow, but the second best lap time that he put on the boards in the final moments of the afternoon session sparks hope. He improved steadily during the qualifiers after finding the right feeling with his rear tyre, an element which had caused him some problems at the Nürburgring also.

"The free practice sessions on the dirty track were quite arbitrary as is clear from everyone's high lap times. In the afternoon we made some leaps forward, especially improving the rear tyre grip quite a bit coming out of turns, which is what I struggled with at the Nürburgring. My second place time at the end of the day shows the progress we've made. Tomorrow I think we're definitely within a shout of the front row".

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier continued with the form he showed at the last eni FIM Superbike World Championship round by consistently battling in the top-five during today's two sessions in Portugal.

The British rider finished on the podium at Nurburgring two weeks ago and carried that form with him to the 5,492m Portimao circuit. In this morning's free practice, Camier was quickly on the pace and finished the session in third place, only 0.117 seconds from top-spot. He continued with his strong performance in the opening qualification session and posted a best time of 1'43.949 during his 16-laps, which was 0.753 seconds from Marco Melandri's provisional pole time and good enough to give Camier sixth overall.

John Hopkins spent most of the two sessions learning the complicated layout, with all its twists, turns and changes of elevation; he had to be at the height of his concentration as this was his first visit to the Portuguese circuit. Hopkins finished the day just outside the provisional cut-off point for Saturday's Superpole, but with a second qualifying session scheduled for tomorrow morning, he is sure he can secure a place for him and his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R in the top 16.

Current championship leader Max Biaggi posted the seventh quickest time with the second of the trio of riders challenging for the title, Tom Sykes, in third, both of them playing catch-up to Melandri. A very busy day for World Superbike also saw the organisers make two separate announcements that the championship will head to Jerez in Spain and Laguna Seca in America, during 2013 in a shake-up to next season's calendar.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki and the rest of the WSB field will have a final qualifying session tomorrow to sort out who qualifies for Superpole to battle for the best grid positions in Sunday's two races, the first of which gets underway at 12.00hrs local time (12.00hrs BST).

Leon Camier:

"Considering that I never felt completely comfortable on the bike, sixth today is pretty good. The chassis is good, but we can improve it and the same applies to the electronics. The funny thing today is that, in the morning I was quicker in some areas and in the afternoon I was faster in some others. We need to get the balance right, but I'm confident that there's a lot more to come from my FIXI Crescent Suzuki."

John Hopkins:

"There's a lot to learn at this track - especially all the blind corners - so today was all about figuring it out. I tried to put in the laps and not worry too much about changing many settings, but my FIXI Crescent Suzuki's set-up is not far off, so we'll continue to improve it and the whole package tomorrow. I really like this track - it reminds me a bit of a quote: motocross circuit - and I'm looking forward to tomorrow and further improvements for sure."

Jack Valentine - Team Manager:

"I think it's been a good day for us generally. Leon was on it straight away in free practice and set the third fastest time of the session. He and the team tried out quite a few things, so there's definitely room for improvement.

"It is John's first time here and he's been learning the track today, so 16th in the first session is pretty remarkable. Both riders improved their lap times in qualifying and I know that there's a lot more to come from both of them. It's early stages, but the FIXI Crescent Suzuki has been going well and I'm positive that both riders will get faster. Leon improved his time from the morning by half-of-a-second and John by three-tenths, so we know we are going in the right direction. As usual, our first goal is to get both riders into Superpole and then see what happens. I feel sure that Leon will manage it and so will John, as he has already closed in on riders with a lot more track experience."
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