Haslam splashes his way to French Superpole win
The Aprilia rider on pole despite a late crash, Rea only 0.004s away in second.
Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) has taken the penultimate Tissot-Superpole of the 2015 season, the first fully wet qualifying of the year after the heavens opened at the Circuit Nevers de Magny-Cours shortly before Superpole 1 began.
Despite ending the session in the gravel after crashing in the final moments of SP2, the Briton edged out the newly crowned World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) by 0.004s. This is the second pole position for Haslam this year and only the third of his long World Superbike career.
I didn't think I had held onto first place. I realized it only because the track marshals took me to the winner's circle instead of the garage!
Joining Haslam and Rea on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s 21-lap races will be, for the second consecutive round, Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing), after the wet conditions threw up some surprises at the front of the grid.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) all crashed, Lowes’ incident bringing out the red flags. The session restarted with two minutes and 46 seconds remaining meaning that it was a one lap shoot-out to decide the grid.
Row two will see Davies, Guintoli and Luca Scassa (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team), while a competitive Leon Camier heads up the third row that also comprises Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) and Tom Sykes. Scassa and Camier were the two riders who made their way through Superpole 1 and into the final session.
Tenth on the grid will be Markus Reiterberger (VanZon Rehema BMW), with Alex Lowes and Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) rounding out row the top 12.
Leon Haslam #91 - Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils
“The last lap in Superpole I was determined to push. I thought a lot of others would be improving. I left a lot of space between me, Scassa and Jordi, but I caught them up faster than I had expected and when I tried to overtake them I ended up on the kerb and took a slide. I didn't think I had held onto first place. I realized it only because the track marshals took me to the winner's circle instead of the garage! I had a good feeling in the wet. Throughout the weekend we've been close to the top times despite focusing on our race pace. The guys at Aprilia did a brilliant job. I'm sure that tomorrow we'll be able to make a play for it no matter what the weather brings.”
Jonathan Rea #65 - Kawasaki Racing Team
“I was so nervous because going down the last hill into the final complex it is like a sheet of water and there were no riders in front to make a line. I saw on the big screen that my sectors were red, red, red, meaning I was fastest but I just bottled it in the last part! Everything was going good earlier in Superpole and I was P2, P2 and then the red flag came. The problem is keeping heat in the tyres.I had some moments on my out lap under deceleration, which is the main issue we need to improve in wet conditions. But it was fun. To be on the front row is good because we have done a lot of work over the weekend in dry conditions.”
Niccolò Canepa #59 - Althea Racing Ducati
“I was really nervous before Superpole because after the good performances in free practice I knew I could have been very fast in dry conditions. It was very difficult as we had a new wet tyre to try, which we never used before. I had to adjust to the track under these conditions and do my best to get to grips with the tyre. I did my best on my last lap and I’d say third place is an amazing result for us. I will do my best tomorrow to get a good result, my pace is not bad!”
Sylvain Guintoli #1 - Pata Honda World Superbike
"Fifth is OK I guess, especially after crashing. I was improving during the session and getting the lap time down, so it’s not so bad, but it might have been better without the crash. In the wet so you have to keep going, build the temperature in the tyres and build your confidence at the same time, step by step. You can very easily make a mistake, but to be fair the bike felt quite good. I was just building the session towards the end but then we couldn’t restart after the red flag because the handlebars were broken. It’s a shame about the little slide, but no damage and no injuries, so we’ll be alright for tomorrow."
WorldSBK Magny-Cours - Tissot-Superpole
1 - Leon Haslam Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils 1'56.404
2 - Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +0.004
3 - Niccolò Canepa Althea Racing Ducati +0.508
Magny-Cours WSBK: Haslam takes pole despite fall
Magny-Cours WSBK: Rea beats Sykes to win wet opening race