— World Superbike 2013 – Round Eight – Marco Melandri wins unpredictable Moscow round

Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Goldbet) is back on the top step of the podium after an epic race 1 that was hard to imagine before the lights went off. Melandri’s third win in the season means a big step up in the points for the Italian, who is now 32 points away from new Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team).

Constantly changing weather conditions and several DNFs played a huge factor in today’s first race, with 2013 flag-to-flag rules that came into place. The Italian, along with several other riders in the top positions, pulled in for a tyre change at the end of lap 20 as the rain got heavier, making almost impossible to ride on slick compounds. Thanks to a formidable pit-stop performed by his crew, Melandri closed the gap on the leader and team mate Chaz Davies, eventually getting on first position and pulling away to cross the line a lonely winner. Davies, on the other hand, led the race for the most part, showing great skills on both dry and mixed conditions.Giugliano-Day-1

Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) brought the 1199 Panigale R to a long-awaited first podium finish, thanks to an impressive performance in the last part of the race. The former STK1000 Champion found himself at ease on soaked wet conditions, to edge out from the top-3 Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) while entering the penultimate lap.

Sylvain Guintoli put in another heroic performance today by finishing sixth behind Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Aprilia), despite the dislocated right collarbone and a big moment in the first half of the race.

Tom Sykes’ (Kawasaki Racing Team) second technical problem of the weekend resulted in a no-score for the Brit, as his bike stopped and got on fire during the fourth lap. A big number of crashes took place and involved Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare), Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia), Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team), Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike), Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic BMW).

Race 1 results:
1. Melandri (BMW) 25 Laps/98.275 km in 46’03.043 average 128.044 kph;
2. Davies (BMW) 7.441;
3. Badovini (Ducati) 12.754;
4. Rea (Honda) 21.317;
5. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 47.456;
6. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’00.999;
7. Neukirchner (Ducati) 1’04.762;
8. Baz (Kawasaki) 1’04.947;
9. Camier (Suzuki) 1’09.140;
10. Cluzel (Suzuki) 1 Lap;
11. Sandi (Kawasaki) 1 Lap;
RT. Laverty (Aprilia); RT. Haslam (Honda); RT. Sykes (Kawasaki); RT. Giugliano (Aprilia); RT. Savadori (Kawasaki); RT. Iannuzzo (BMW); RT. Checa (Ducati).

Cup of Nations – Dakota Mamola winner of the race

Dakota Mamola (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) dominated the Cup of Nations race today at Moscow Raceway. The 18 year old American crossed the line a lonely first with a 7.2 seconds margin over Honda rider Ilja Mikhalchik, from Ukraine. Third on the podium was Italian Giuseppe De Gruttola on a Kawasaki.

Results: 1. Mamola (Yamaha) 8 Laps/31.448 km in 13’46.074 average 137,049 kph; 2. Mikhalchik (Honda) 7.373; 3. De Gruttola (Yamaha) 8.622; 4. Fasanella (Suzuki) 21.656; 5. Eremin A. (Yamaha) 27.536; 6. Dusek (Yamaha) 28.941; 7. Davidov (Yamaha) 46.911; 8. Buryakov (Kawasaki) 49.753; 9. Kozheurov (Yamaha) 54.052; 10. Petrovskiy (Triumph) 1’27.168; etc.



— World Superbike 2013 – Round Eight – Giugliano’s maiden Tissot-Superpole win as Sykes crashes out

Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) scored his first ever Tissot-Superpole win today at Moscow Raceway. The 23 year old from Rome managed to time in 1’34.676 lap-time to secure first place ahead of Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), as the Welshman achieved his best ever grid positioning in WSBK, too.

The biggest surprise in today’s Tissot-Superpole was the crash suffered by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in the third session, at Turn 3, that put an end to his pole position streak after six consecutive wins and will force the Brit to move off from an unusual 9th place. The first row for tomorrow’s two races is completed by Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team), who repeated himself on the same slot as last year’s Russian Round.

Despite being the first rider unable to lap in the 1’34 seconds bracket, Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) ended up 4th, ahead of Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) and Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) – with the Spaniard who proved to be “alive and kicking” after the big crash in the morning’s Qualifying 2.Giugliano-Moscow-Saturday-1

The indomitable Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), still dealing with a dislocated right collarbone, did his best to obtain an impressive 8th place, behind fellow Frenchman Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki).

Davide Giugliano: “This Tissot-Superpole is a great result for me and the team, who made this success possible by setting-up a very competitive bike: we can stand a chance with the official teams and also be up front, as today. Hope to do the same tomorrow, even though we are aware that the races will be two hard ones and also Sykes, despite his crash today, will take part in the battle. Moreover, weather conditions seem not to be that good, but we’ll do our best as ever.”

Chaz Davies: “I am very happy, the result confirms the steps that we have taken all weekend have been right. We made some changes that have really helped. I felt that I did not make the best lap, I lost a couple of tenths here and there, maybe enough to keep me off from pole but to get there you have to put it all together and I did not. But still I am very satisfied with the front row and am looking forward to the races. I think it is going to be a battle tomorrow, it is going to be close off the line and whoever has the pace will stay at the front.”

Tissot-Superpole times: 1. Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’34.676 average 149.474 kph; 2. Davies (BMW) 1’34.833; 3. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’34.934; 4. Rea (Honda) 1’35.058; 5. Melandri (BMW) 1’35.115; 6. Checa (Ducati) 1’35.220; 7. Cluzel (Suzuki) 1’35.256; 8. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’36.113; 9. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’34.546; 10. Camier (Suzuki); 11. Neukirchner (Ducati); 12. Baz (Kawasaki); 13. Haslam (Honda); 14. Badovini (Ducati); 15. Fabrizio (Aprilia); 16. Sandi (Kawasaki); 17. Iannuzzo (BMW); 18. Savadori (Kawasaki).

Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) is the pole-sitter for the eight World Supersport race of the season, scheduled for tomorrow early afternoon at Moscow Raceway, courtesy of the 1’38.088 seconds lap-time set yesterday in Qualifying 1. The three-time Champion will move off from the top spot on the WSS grid for the fifteenth time in his career, with Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha’s Sam Lowes and local hero Vladimir Leonov to start alongside him on the first row.

As second qualifying turned into a wet session in the early half, due to the rain that began falling on the Russian track, all riders had to wait until the final minutes to start a late charge for pole. During his last quick-lap attempt Lowes was a provisional first, before a technical problem at the final turn prevented him from edging out his rival for the title from the top of the timesheets. The Brit leaned his YZF-R6 against the pit-wall and – visibly disappointed – walked back to his garage.

None of the riders, except for 19th place Roberto Tamburini (Lorini Honda), was then able to improve from yesterday’s session, meaning Andrea Antonelli (Team Goeleven Kawasaki) finished 4th ahead of fellow Italian Alex Baldolini (Suriano Racing Team Suzuki), Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport), Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) and Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki).

Times: 1. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1’38.088 average 144.275 kph; 2. Lowes (Yamaha) 1’38.240; 3. Leonov (Yamaha) 1’38.691; 4. Antonelli (Kawasaki) 1’38.792; 5. Baldolini (Suzuki) 1’38.919; 6. Vd Mark (Honda) 1’38.975; 7. Kennedy (Honda) 1’39.249; 8. Foret (Kawasaki) 1’39.295; 9. Rolfo (MV Agusta) 1’39.378; 10. Coghlan (Kawasaki) 1’39.406; etc.

— Althea Racing

The second qualifying session of this eighth round of the World Superbike championship took place in the rain and on a wet track at Moscow Raceway this morning. The track conditions prevented all riders from improving on yesterday’s times and so Davide Giugliano, who concluded first qualifying in second position, maintained that position heading into Superpole.

Unfortunately, just a few minutes from the session’s end Davide fell through turn 1 on a slippy section of the track. He hit his elbow on the kerb during the fall, resulting in a contusion and small cut but luckily this didn’t condition his participation in the final free practice or the Superpole. In the free practice Davide completed only a few laps, just enough to test some solutions in preparation for the Superpole.

In the first phase of the Superpole the Althea Racing rider used a race tyre with which he recorded an excellent time of 1’35”659, placing himself fourth and qualifying for the second phase. In the second session team and rider again opted for a race tyre. DavideRace-1-Podium improved further and with a best time of 1’35”504 he took sixth position and progressed to phase three. In the third and final session the team’s strategy proved to be a winning one and, with a qualifying tyre, Davide gave it his all with a fast lap that he completed in 1’34”67. This fantastic lap time put him in overall first place and meant that Giugliano took his first ever Superpole. A result that rewards both the abilities of Davide and his team and that confirms the competitiveness of the team and the RSV4 Aprilia. Tomorrow Giugliano will start from pole position in the two 25-lap races.

Genesio Bevilacqua: “It was a very eventful day which began with Davide’s crash this morning, which could have complicated things, and ended with the satisfaction of seeing our young rider achieve his first ever Superpole. The team worked perfectly and our decision to save both qualifying tyres for the third and final phase of the Superpole proved to be a winning one. I’m sorry for Sykes, a rival who is always correct, but I think that even if he hadn’t crashed we could have fought for the pole today – it would have been great to see a duel between him and Davide. For tomorrow’s races I’m fairly confident because our rider has demonstrated that he has a very fast pace. Contrary to what has happened at other tracks, Giugliano was immediately comfortable with the bike and the track here in Russia and so I’m sure we’ll see two great, hard-fought races tomorrow.”

Davide Giugliano: “It’s hugely satisfying for me and my team, and I must thank the guys for all the help they’re giving me. After a few races in which we have gained the necessary experience with our new bike, now we are at a very competitive level. We must not stop working, because we still have to improve the sensation with the front of the bike, but we are clearly on the right path.

“This Superpole is very valuable to me and my team and it’s very satisfying to fight with and beat the official riders and teams. As far as tomorrow’s races are concerned, I hope to be able to fight for the win. The two races will be difficult and despite his crash today Sykes will surely be there too. The weather is also an unknown and right now it looks like rain is forecast. Either way, I’ll give it my all to achieve another great result.”

— Pata Honda

Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s eighth-round World Superbike championship races at the Moscow Raceway from the front of the second row after setting the fourth fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole sessions.

In the first fully-dry conditions of the day, the 26-year-old from Northern Ireland set a time of 1m35.058s at the 3.931km circuit, which lies 77km west of the Russian capital. Rea was just 0.3s from the pole position time set by Italian Davide Giugliano, and one tenth off a front row start.

Rea’s Pata Honda team-mate, Leon Haslam, was left frustrated after an electronics issue prevented his progressing beyond Superpole 1 this afternoon. The 30-year-old from Derbyshire in England will start from 13th place in tomorrow’s two 25-lap races.Sofuoglu-Day-1

Jonathan Rea – P4 1m35.058s
We made a pretty big set-up change for today but it was wet this morning and conditions in free practice were not perfect, either. So, Superpole 1 was the first time we got to try it properly on a race tyre. It didn’t feel right straight away, so I was questioning the changes. But we stuck with it for Superpole 2 and I went nine tenths quicker on the same code of tyre, which also looked much grippier on the data. When we checked the tyre batch numbers, they were completely different, so there’s a real consistency issue there. I wanted to be on the front row today but it wasn’t to be. I struggled a lot on the straight, but I think the guys can put in a fresh engine tonight, which should put us back in the ball-park for speed tomorrow. They’ve done a good job with the bike in the technical sectors where CBR’s working well and I think I’m riding pretty well. Tomorrow I need two clean starts because it’s hard to pass here. We’ve done some good work on old tyres, but the front is still a question mark because I’ve been between the hard and the medium all weekend, so that’s a decision we’ll have to make tonight.

Leon Haslam – P13 1m36.069s
I felt pretty confident going into Superpole but we had an electronics problem which kind of determined the result for us, really. And that was that. I was fourth quickest in the wet qualifying session this morning and we made good progress with the setting there, so I was happy with that. In the intermediate conditions for free practice we only got a couple of laps, so that was a bit of a wasted session. But on every Superpole lap I had the electronics problem and I was nowhere near where I should have been on the time. Even then, I only missed out on Superpole 2 by a tenth. We haven’t really done many longer runs in the dry and we have to sort this problem, so it’s difficult to say how tomorrow will go. But I’m sure we can have a good go at it.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
Conditions were not good today, so we couldn’t really test the plans we had for Leon. Then he had a problem in Superpole and he could not get beyond Superpole 1. We’ll work hard tonight and see what we can provide for him tomorrow. Jonathan had the same weather conditions and he got a bad race tyre for Superpole but he got through anyway. In Superpole 2 the same spec tyre worked, so apparently there is a problem with the consistency of the tyres. In the end he was fourth, so well done to him. We have one or two problems to look at but I think Jonathan can be a podium runner tomorrow.

— Aprilia Racing

The Saturday at Moscow Raceway concluded with the Superpole which determines the starting line-up for the races tomorrow. There will be two RSV4s on the front row, thanks to Eugene Laverty’s third place, also third in the overall championship standings, and the excellent time Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Team) put on the boards. Sylvain Guintoli took eighth place, gritting his teeth through the pain and heroically managing to get into the third Superpole session.

After the second qualifiers this morning, held on a wet track, almost all the riders went out for just a few laps during the afternoon free practice sessions. In fact, the changing asphalt conditions made long runs during practice pointless and even risky. Sylvain Guintoli benefited particularly from this situation as he was able to focus on recovering from the right shoulder injury he suffered Sunday Tissot-Superpoleduring training.

The three Superpole sessions were held on a dry track with both the Aprilia Racing Team riders making it to Superpole 3 and therefore in the running for a spot in the first three rows. Sylvain had to use his two soft tyres straight away with the goal of qualifying among the top nine, whereas Eugene came easily through the first session to then make an assault for pole position.

A crash by Tom Sykes in Superpole 3 allowed Sylvain to gain a splendid eighth place, despite his pain and not too many laps ridden this weekend. Eugene Laverty performed brilliantly, third under the chequered flag but, most of all, stopping the clock with his best time on race tyres.

Eugene Laverty: “This was a difficult Superpole, quite chaotic, and in the end I’m a bit surprised with this third place. My pace yesterday and in the wet was very good and it took a few laps in Superpole to adapt to the new track conditions in order to push to the limit. The changes we made to my RSV4 during the test sessions after the Imola race also took a little getting used to, but in any case the bike is working well and with the right adjustments my feeling with it leaves me confident for tomorrow’s races”.

Sylvain Guintoli: “If they had told me this would happen on Monday, while I was having X-rays taken and couldn’t move my arm, I never would have believed them! Getting to the end of the Superpole sessions was a pleasant surprise since the weekend certainly hasn’t been the easiest one so far. To save my shoulder I preferred staying in the garage when the conditions weren’t good, so after taking a lot of laps yesterday I calmed down a bit today. Thanks to the support of my team, even taking just a few laps today we were still able to take the track with a bike that is working very well. Tomorrow’s races may be the most difficult of my life, but I’m hoping that the natural excitement and adrenaline will lend a hand in taking home a few very important points”.

— BMW Motorrad Goldbet

First and second row: the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team has had a successful Superpole at “Moscow Raceway” (RUS). Factory rider Chaz Davies (GBR) claimed his best ever qualifying result in the FIM Superbike World Championship. The Welshman finished second, putting his BMW S 1000 RR on the front row of the grid. His team-mate Marco Melandri (ITA) is also happy with qualifying. He finished fifth and thus will start the eighth round of the season from the second row.

Changing weather made the conditions difficult today. After it had rained in the morning, the track was still wet when the riders went out for the second qualifying practice. Already, the two BMW factory riders were fast, with Marco setting the fastest time of the session and Chaz placing fifth. During the free practice session in the early afternoon it started to rain again, so the track action was pretty limited. But then conditions bettered and for the Superpole, it was dry.

At the beginning of Superpole 1, both Chaz and Marco did two laps on race tyres and then returned to the garage, having comfortably qualified for the second part. In Superpole 2, Chaz again started with a race tyre, then he came to the pitlane to change to his first qualifying tyre. With this, Chaz put in the second fastest time and progressed easily to the final session. Marco meanwhile started Superpole 2 with his first qualifying tyre. He returned to the garage, but to be on the safe side, he went out for another attempt with his second qualifying tyre with two and a half minutes to go. He set the fourth fastest time. In the final and deciding Superpole 3, Chaz began with his second qualifying tyre and was temporarily fastest. In the end he slipped back to second when Davide Giugliano (ITA) set a better time to secure pole position. Marco did two outings in Superpole 3 with the qualifying tyres he had already used in the second part. Thus, he set the fifth fastest time.

Chaz Davies: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:36.303 min (P10) / Fastest lap FP: 1:37.072 min (P4) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:34.833 min (P2)
“I am very happy. The result confirms the steps that we have taken all weekend have been right. We made the turning a little bit better and now I feel like I can actually force the front to turn rather than the bike deciding where it wants to go. We made some changes that have really helped. I felt that I did not make the best lap, I lost a couple of tenths here and there, maybe enough to keep me off from pole but to get there you have to put it all together and I did not. But still I am very satisfied with the front row and am looking forward to the races. I think it is going to be a battle tomorrow, it is going to be close off the line and whoever has the pace will stay at the front. I think that it will be between a few riders tomorrow. It will be interesting but I am pretty confident with my package and on the few laps we did today in the dry, I had a good pace.”

Marco Melandri: Fastest lap Qualifying Practices: 1:35.891 min (P3) / Fastest lap FP: 1:37.135 min (P5) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:35.115 min (P5)
“Today we have made a good step forward, especially on the race pace both in dry and wet conditions. We improved a lot in the last sector, while we have still some room for improvement in the first one. Tomorrow the weather will be the key. In case the weather conditions change during the race, we will have to do a pit stop to change tyres. Tonight we will define a strategy to decide if and when it is better to do this. Tomorrow in the race many riders will be fighting for the top positions. On this track it is quite difficult to overtake but we could be at the front. Today’s fifth position is a good result, I feel good for the race and I’m happy.”Team-Althea-Superpole

Serafino Foti (Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team): “It was a very positive day. Both our riders were fast in all conditions. This morning, in the wet, we were in front. This afternoon, when it was supposed to be the worst weather of the whole weekend, we had a dry Superpole. Chaz is back on the front row and this is good for his and the team’s mood. Tomorrow in the races, I’m sure, he could do even better. Marco is quite serene and in the races he can also do very well. The weather is unpredictable and it changes quite fast. Tomorrow the team will have to be ready to manage all weather conditions and, in case they change, to manage them quickly. I am confident that tomorrow we will be able to have a good race in any conditions.”

Andrea Dosoli (Technical Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team): “Overall it has been a good day. We have achieved our target for Superpole which was to start from the two front rows. But the most important point is that we have improved the performance of our RR. With both riders we have improved a few tenths in the first and last sectors where we are struggling. And I have to say that I am satisfied with the job done by both crews in such difficult and unpredictable weather conditions. We managed to always be well prepared and we were fast in both dry and wet conditions. The races will not be easy. The start will be very important and quite a few riders will be able to fight for the podium but I am confident to say that our two riders will be among them. So it is up to the guys to make a good start and up to the team tonight to analyse the data and to try to fine tune the RRs. Then we will use the warm-up to further improve the package.”

— Kawasaki Report

Tom Sykes was looking set for yet another Superpole win as he approached Superpole 3 but a fall deprived him of the chance and he now starts Sunday’s races from the third row of the grid.

Sykes was running a high lean angle as he negotiated the long turn three when he lost the front end and he was unable to make it back to the pits. In the era of single bike rules he had no spare machine to use to get back into contention for the font row, and what could have been his seventh pole in succession. He ended up ninth on the grid.

Tom still leads the overall Superpole count in 2013 by some margin, with six pole positions to his credit.

His misfortune in Superpole today did not disguise Sykes’ sheer pace through qualifying and practice and Sykes is now confident that with two good starts he should be in contention for the top race places as he has been all season long on his Ninja ZX-10R.

Second KRT rider Loris Baz pushed his way to Superpole 2 but was unable to improve his time enough to make it into the final Superpole session and he earned a 12th starting place overall. He is on the fourth row of the grid for Sunday’s two 25-lap races.

Federico Sandi (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) ended regulation qualifying in 16th place, while Lorenzo Savadori (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) will start the races from 18th place in Moscow.

Tom Sykes: “I just lost the front at the very last moment in turn three. It is a shame but sometimes these things happen. It is a small mistake and it means that we will start on row three, so it is a mistake with not a very big consequence. In this respect it is not so bad and tomorrow, in the races, is where you make up points. I am still confident with the settings of the Ninja ZX-10R for this track. I just need to make a clean start each time and continue in a good way. Pace in general has been strong and the lap times are good, which we saw in Superpole 1 when I was using a race tyre. It will be 25 laps each time so there will be long races here. In Imola I dropped to fourth at the very beginning and then had time to react so hopefully we have lots of time tomorrow to make the correction for today’s small mistake.”

Loris Baz: “I used a qualifying tyre to start in Superpole 2 but I had a lot of chatter so I almost lost the front and had to save it on my elbow. I lost time and was not going to make it to the third part of Superpole so I came in and we fitted a race tyre. I did my two best times of the weekend after that, but I could not go fast enough to make it into Superpole 3. Race pace is not so bad but we have a small issue with set-up on corner entry. I am sure we can sort it in morning warm-up. If we do find an improvement I will have to make a good start to be able to get to the front and fight for a top five place again.”

Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India rider Kenan Sofuoglu secured his second pole position start of the year today but due to adverse weather conditions he was unable to go faster than he did on Friday.

Sofuoglu would have preferred to have a fully dry track to work on than gain the plaudits for winning pole, which means he has some more planning to do with his team to find the very last elements of race-set-up in morning warm-up tomorrow.

Fabien Foret rode to eighth place on the grid thanks to his Friday time, with the second Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India competitor ending up eighth on the grid, for a third row start. Andrea Antonelli (Team Goeleven Kawasaki) was fourth in qualifying, the second best Kawasaki rider on show at Moscow Raceway.

Tenth place on the grid was taken by Kevin Coghlan (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) while his stand-in team-mate Alexey Ivanov (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) was 27th in his first ever WSS race qualifying.

Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) had to work hard for his 13th place on the starting line-up while Luca Scassa (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) ended up 15th, still trying to eradicate some set-up issues from the front end of his machine.

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I cannot say I am that happy despite winning pole as all day today I could not ride the bike the way I wanted because of the wet weather. Yesterday we were very close to a good setup and the time I put in during qualifying came just as the rains started. I was hoping for a dry morning practice session today to have a long run to see how the bike and tyre was. All I wanted was to get everything ready for tomorrow but qualifying was all about the wet weather. Today we have won pole but I would rather have the bike ready. I hope warm-up is dry and we can do some good times because I feel my pace right now is quite strong. I felt that even yesterday in the dry. Now I just want to get to the race because I think my bike will be very good in this track.”

Fabien Foret: “Yesterday morning in practice was not great again but we definitely had a clear idea of the direction to take because it seems I am struggling on the electronics side a little. We made a good step after yesterday afternoon but I did not set a really good lap time as that was not really the target. When it was time to do a quick lap there were a few drops of rain. I could have gone faster and I was therefore quite confident for today but the weather did not work for us. So I could not conform what I felt yesterday. Let us say I am quite confident for tomorrow if the conditions are quite normal.”

— Fixi Crescent Suzuki

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel continued to impress at this weekend’s Russian round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at the Moscow Raceway by putting in a competitive performance in this afternoon’s Superpole.

Cluzel made his way into Superpole due to his time in Friday’s first session after this morning’s wet qualifying practice, where no riders improved on their times. The French Rookie made his way through Superpole 1 and 2 and began the third and final session with his last Pirelli qualifying tyre. He set a time of 1’35.256, which saw him in a provisional front-row position for a short while, before his time was marginally bettered by other riders. At the end of the 10-minute session Cluzel was only three-tenths-of-a-second away from the front row and just over half-of-a-second off Pole Position. He will head the third row for tomorrow’s races after finishing seventh quickest.

Cluzel had a good day all round, and after a third-place in this morning’s wet qualifying; he followed that up with another third position in the dry free practice. He is confident with the set-up for his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000, whatever the conditions are on race-day, and will be looking to push for a strong result in both races.

Leon Camier will start directly behind his team-mate in tomorrow’s races after the Englishman qualified in 10th place. He looked like getting a good grid position after recording the second fastest time in Superpole 1, but he was unable to use his qualifying tyre to its best effect and was eliminated in the second session. Camier had looked on-the-pace earlier in the day when he set the second fastest time in the dry free practice and his time in the first Superpole underlined that performance. He will be hoping to make a fast start in tomorrow’s races so that he can be up amongst the front pack as soon as possible.

Today’s practices and Superpole were held in varying conditions, but the rain that threatened this afternoon never materialised. Davide Giugliano on a factory Aprilia took his maiden World Superbike Pole Position; championship leader Tom Sykes will start from ninth on the grid after he crashed in Superpole 3.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Cluzel and Camier will line up with the rest of the field for the first of two races from the 3,931m Moscow raceway at 12.00hrs local time (09.00hrs BST), with the second 25-lap event scheduled for 15.30hrs local time (12.30hrs BST).

Jules Cluzel: “It felt really good out there today, I was consistent and solid and I am very happy about this because we need to keep improving at the moment. In the rain we are really good and in the dry we have improved again. For tomorrow we are feeling positive no matter what the conditions are, because we have a good setting for both. I hope to make two good races tomorrow because this would give us a good conclusion to the weekend. I will try to do my best and see what we can achieve.”

Leon Camier: “I was feeling good on the bike in Superpole 1 and was a bit behind Eugene – I was trying to use him as a tow – and the bike was handling really well. When I was behind Eugene I felt really comfortable and it was as though he was holding me up, but on the back-straight I couldn’t quite stay with him. I then came in and got a qualifying tyre and did a pretty good time to get through to Superpole 2. In the next session I was trying hard on my second lap on a race tyre, but Melandri was on my racing line and got in my way. So I came in and put on another qualifier, but I was so angry with him for messing up my lap that I think I tried too hard with the qualifier and didn’t get the best out of it. I had a bit of chattering, but I was the main reason I didn’t go quicker. I am reasonable happy with the race setting, but around here it is difficult to overtake, so if it is a dry race it will be tough coming from so far back. I will just need to keep the pace and my rhythm up and try to be strong at the end.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager: “The FIXI Crescent Suzuki team has done a very good job over the last two days in the changeable conditions at the Moscow Raceway and in a strange way it’s very positive to be disappointed with Jules’s qualifying position of seventh – and only half-of-a-second off Pole Position. However, when you miss the front-row by three-tenths – and we know that one mistake on his best lap cost him that – then we know that the potential was much more. This has been Jules’s best run-in to a World Superbike event so far and wet or dry, he knows he’s got a good package underneath him and is looking forward to the races.

“Leon also has shown excellent and consistent speed. He was second in the dry free practice this afternoon and unfortunately just didn’t get the job done in Superpole 2 when he needed to. He’s disappointed, but with more changeable conditions on the way for tomorrow, the starting position might not be as critical as it might have been.

“The FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 is working very well here this weekend and we are looking forward to two hard, but competitive, races tomorrow.”

— Matt Davies

Aussie Matt Davies put the disappointment of yesterday behind him, and although the weather prevented PTR Honda’s youngest rider from bettering his grid position, both he and the team are keen to show their true potential in tomorrow’s 22 Lap race.

The Moscow Raceway is a tight, technical circuit and this weekend is the first time that Matt has visited the Russian venue.

Matt who had narrowly missed out on world championship points on several occasions was an encouraging 20th position in today’s earlier free practice session but with rain falling for the duration of the important final session, neither Matt or any other rider in the field could improve their times from yesterday.

Matt Davies – 28th on the grid: “Today was better. In the rain I was around 10th position but then it dried out. The last session was okay but with the weather it made it difficult to improve. Hopefully tomorrow’s race will be good! I will be pushing hard for a good result for the team.”

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