Top Italian privateer Davide Giugliano aboard the Althea Racing Aprilia RSV4 Factory set the pace in Friday’s opening Qualifying for the 14th and final round of the eni Superbike World Championship at Jerez, Spain.
On the pace throughout the 40 minute opening afternoon Q session at the famous 13 turn, 4.423 km long G.P. venue, Giugliano jumped to the top of the time charts with less than two minutes remaining in the session.
In the first World Superbike event held at Jerez since 1990, Giugliano turned a best lap at 1:42.374. Today’s best official lap eclipsed the former class lap record, set by Ducati’s Raymond Roche back in 1990, by over nine seconds! The track’s opening Chicane has been modified since that last World SBK race, so a direct comparison of the two eras is not really meaningful.
There will be a further Q session tomorrow morning, and then a three part SuperPole session starting at 3 PM Saturday October 19 will put the top 16 riders on track to set the final starting grid for Sunday’s pair of 21 lap races.
Second quickest was the BMW Motorrad Goldbet BMW S1000RR of Marco Melandri, the famous Italian former G.P. ace leading late in the session and winding up with a best lap of 1:42.641. The BMW team is withdrawing from the series following the Jerez event.
Third best was Eugene Laverty on the factory Aprilia RSV4, the Irish ace shaking off a crash early in the session to turn a best tour at 1:42.756. Another pace setter was Aprilia-mounted privateer Toni Elias, fourth best at 1:42.782 in the opening qualifying session, Earlier in the day, Elias topped the first practice time sheets with the best lap so far this weekend at 1:4.873, although no one matched that effort in the warmer afternoon conditions.
After a lengthy career in Grand Prix racing, Elias joined the eni WSBK tour three races ago and is a definite threat for a race win this weekend.
Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli, another rider to lead the running mid-session, wound up fifth best at 1:42.906. As with his team-mate Laverty, Guintoli also suffered a minor fall during the Q session.
Fixi Crescent Suzuki had a good opening day with the Yoshimura-backed GSX-R1000 racers, Leon Camier sixth quickest with a lap at 1:42.936. His team-mate Jules Cluzel netted tenth best time.
Series points leader Tom Sykes had a troubled session, missing much of the running with minor problems and eventually putting the works Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja into seventh spot overall. Sykes has been a dominate performer in Tissot SuperPole action during the past two seasons.
Sykes heads the 2013 points standings with a total of 411, chased by the Aprilia duo of Laverty and early season points leader Guintoli with 374 and 373 points respectively.
With 50 points still available from Sunday’s two races, Sykes is in control of the World Championship, but does not have his first World crown securely locked down. Last season, Sykes lost the Championship after a wild final weekend in France, ending up one half of a series point behind Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.
Attracting attention a Jerez was wild card entry Broc Parkes on a Monster Energy /Yart entered Yamaha YZF R1. His machine is typically used for World Endurance Championship action, but Parkes had a strong showing to net a provisional 14th spot, after running as high as tenth.
Top Ducati was the “previous generation” 1098R of veteran Lorenzo Lanzi, the Mesaroli Transport entered Desmo twin netting a strong eighth. Top current generation Ducati 1199 Panigale R was the works-supported Alstare entry of Xavier Fores in 11th, his team-mate Ayrton Badovini 12th.