Istanbul (Turkey), Friday 13 September 2013 – The first-ever qualifying session for the Eni FIM Superbike World Championship at the Intercity Istanbul Park took place this afternoon, under sunny skies and warm temperatures. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), still second in the standings with a one-point gap from leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) - after the CDI decision on the appeal lodged by Aprilia following Race 2 at Monza (May 12th) - set the fastest time in 1'56.190 seconds.
The Frenchman led a pack of four riders still in contention for the title, as Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), who was also second in first free practice behind Guintoli, got the better of third place Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) and Tom Sykes. WSBK debutant Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) proved to be already on a good pace by ending up fifth, with a second gap from the lead, at his second outing onboard the RSV4, despite a technical problem.
Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) managed to secure the sixth spot, followed by Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike). Haslam's new team mate Michel Fabrizio was tenth, as the Italian is still getting to grips with the CBR1000RR.
Leon Camier will sit out the rest of the weekend, due to the consequences of the heavy crash he had in the first free practice. The FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider suffered seven bones fractured in his right foot, and he's currently undergoing surgery at the local hospital. Team Ducati Alstare duo of Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini did not get on track either, as they both crashed in the morning's session. The Spaniard has been declared unfit to race (left scaphoid fracture), while the Italian rider's conditions are still to be reviewed (left ankle bone contusion). Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing Ducati) injured his right hand (4th and 5th metarcarpal base fracture): the German rider is unfit to race, too. Moreover, Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) was not medically cleared by doctors, after the back injury suffered at Nurburgring, meaning he had to withdraw from the round.
Sylvain Guintoli: “I usually take things steadily, but today I decided to push hard from the beginning as I felt immediately comfortable on the bike. I was missing something at Nurburging, but here I don’t want to waste any chance. The two races are definitely going to be hot and crucial for the title fight, as all top-4 riders in the standings are up there. It’ll be really important to do a good job for Sunday.”
Marco Melandri: “It was quite a good day, even if it was not easy. The track conditions were much different to what I remember, many riders crashed so I decided not to take unnecessary risks. The conditions are improving and by Sunday it might be completely different, weather and grip-wise, but I am happy with my race pace and, even with used tyres, I was able to be consistent. It will be difficult to make the right tyre choice for the race, though. We still have a lot of work to do.”
World Supersport: Lowes rocks around the clock
Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) wasted no time in learning the Intercity Istanbul Track, as the Championship leader was the fastest in first qualifying for World Supersport, after leading also the morning's free practice session.
The British rider clocked in 2'00.000 seconds, a perfect lap-time in all ways, as Lowes managed to put 0.678 seconds gap between himself and local rider Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki), who was able to climb the timesheets in the closing stages of Qualifying 1.
One Event rider for Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki, Florian Marino, was third ahead of Italian Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda), who raced on this track before in 2006 and 2007 (125 cc World Championship). Spaniard David Salom (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) ended up fifth, followed by Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport) and Raffaele De Rosa (Team Honda Lorini) who both also know the track from past experiences, and Zanetti's team mate Michael van der Mark.
No crashes in this session, but two technical problems that occurred to Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) and Fabio Menghi (VFT Racing Yamaha).