So it was that the deep red of the Ducati managed to get one up on the Racing Green. But only by the teeny-tiniest of margins – 0.116 seconds to be exact. Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team’s Davide Giugliano walked away with the pole position and the title of Superpole King at the qualifying session in Portimao this Saturday.
Race day however will not be all that easy for the Ducati rider. Tom Sykes will be right there to give the Italian a hard time; the Kawasaki rider took second place during Superpole. Chaz Davies managed to grab a third spot on the grid; Giugliano was 0.359s faster than him. Giugliano later said in a team press release, “I’m really pleased with pole position of course – my second since returning at Imola and, considering that the other guys have completed eight more races than me this season, I see this as an important result which also boosts my morale. Tomorrow I hope that race 1 takes place in slightly cooler conditions while I realize that the second will be tough if conditions are particularly hot.”
Sykes remains confident and said in a team press release, “I think overall we have a good bike, a good package and the consistency is there. I was nearly there to win Superpole but Davide Giugliano was just behind me and on some parts of the track that helps, so maybe I helped give him pole position – but that is racing. I have to accept that and he is a good guy, so no worries. I am relaxed, and ready to go racing.”
His teammate Jonathan Rea however had to deal with a little bad luck, ending up 8th on the grid after crashing on his second flying lap during Superpole. He sounded hopeful however as he was quoted in a team press release, “I felt really confident for Superpole and maybe too much. I pushed over the limit and was quite a bit faster at the braking point, with 4 degrees more lean angle, and I lost the front. It was a fast crash but I am OK. In the afternoon practice session before Superpole we had a very good rhythm. My race pace is really good the only problem is starting from the third row and the guys with good pace are on the front row. For me tomorrow will be about the start and the first laps. I just have to make sure the opening laps are clean and that I can get through traffic. I think the race will be decided from the middle to the end but I have to make sure I am there at the middle point.”
It’s not going to be easy. Rea will have to get past a really determined lot – Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, who has had a lot of bad luck this season will be one of them. As will Aprilia’s Leon Haslam who has always seen Portimao as one of his stronger race circuits.
Right in front of Rea will be Sylvain Guintoli who has achieved his best qualifying this season by taking 7th place. The 32-year-old said in a Pata Honda team press release, “Well, we’ve confirmed that the weekend is going in the right direction and we’ve been able to improve the pace on race tyres and then, on the qualifier, I was able to do a couple of good laps as well. I think it’s my best qualifying performance of the year so far, so I’m happy enough with that but realistic enough to know that there’s still plenty of work to do. It’s really good to see all the hard work we’ve done start to pay off though, and we’re looking forward to carrying this momentum into tomorrow’s races and turning it into two decent results.”
Meanwhile over in World Supersport world, Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu had to make peace with a second place on the grid. Arch-nemesis Jules Cluzel at the helm of the MV Agusta took pole position and clocked in the fastest lap of the weekend with a stunning 1’44.554s. It’s Cluzel’s 15th career WSS pole so far. PJ Jacobsen riding for the CORE” Motorsport Thailand took the 3rd spot on the grid.
And so it is that the battle lines have been drawn. Will Sykes continue his Donington Park winning ways, or will Rea manage to extend his lead in the championship. Or will the Ducatis finally power their way to a double-win and a double podium? We don’t have long to wait!