By the time the remaining 8 riders hit the track for the opportunity to set pole position at Miller Motorsports Park, venue for the US round of the World Superbike Championship, most had exhausted their qualifying tires. With Eugene Laverty stopping on the out lap, the competition was down to just 7 contenders and looked all set with 5 minutes remaining until it all changed in the dying moments as the checkered flag was waved.
In cool conditions today at the Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, both Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) were able to put in an impressive Superpole performance, qualifying in second and fourth position respectively for tomorrow’s races. In the second qualifying session, which took place this morning on a damp track that dried out throughout the 45-minutes available (12 ̊C air temperature, 17 ̊C track), Checa was able to consolidate yesterday’s performance.
The Spaniard’s best lap time was a 1’48.7, recorded in the final stages on a now dry track. Thanks to this time, more than a second quicker than his best time set yesterday, he concluded second qualifying in second position. Giugliano on the other hand ran out of time to get in laps on the dried out track, thus closing this 45- minute session in eighteenth place with a best time of 1’50.5.
Thanks to the combined results of the two sessions, Checa qualified second for this afternoon’s Superpole, Giugliano sixteenth. In the final free practice session, current champion Carlos closed at the front of the pack, despite a small crash, recording a fastest time of 1’48.2 while team-mate Davide finished fifth, with a best time of 1’48.9.
Superpole 1: under cloudy skies and on race tyres, Checa made a first exit, managing to record a fast lap of 1’48.4 which put him straight on the top of the pile. Giugliano made a first exit on race rubber, and then returned to the track with a qualifier, recording a fast lap of 1’48.7 which assured him of eighth place.
Superpole 2: in the second phase of the Superpole, both Althea riders needed to make two exits, with a race tyre and then a qualifier. Carlos once again scored the fastest time, 1’47.9, while his team- mate Davide finished in sixth place. Both passed to the final Superpole phase without trouble.
Superpole 3: Checa only made one lap in this final phase, with a time of 1’47.8, apparently enough to secure pole position for tomorrow’s race grid. However a blinding lap by Jakub Smrz that closed out just as the flag was thrown to end the session bumped the Czech Republic rider from 4th to pole. Without a qualifier left for this final phase, Davide was nevertheless able to make a very fast lap on race rubber, just four tenths of a second slower than his team-mate, to ensure himself of a spot on the front row of the grid, in fourth place, alongside Checa. It’s a more than satisfying result for the young rider who hadn’t seen this track until two days ago.
Carlos Checa: “I’ve always felt at ease at this track, right from the first year that we raced here. I have a great feeling with this track and today we were able to do good work. I thought I’d taken pole to be honest but Jakub was faster than me today. We’re happy to be able to start from the front row of course and I heard that tomorrow should be sunnier so I hope that helps us to make two great races.”
Davide Giugliano: “I immediately understood that this would be a track that I would get on well with, and I was right. With regard to today’s results I can say that it’s never gone so good and so I hope that we continue like this for tomorrow races. Superpole went really well and I was able to make a flying lap with a race tyre that’s not considered to be the most high performing of those available and so I’m pleased about that. I feel very well prepared for the races.”
TIMES (Superpole): 1. Smrz (Ducati) 1’47.6; 2. Checa (Ducati) 1’47.8; 3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’48.0; 4. Giugliano (Ducati) 1’48.2; 5. Rea (Honda) 1’48.5; 6. Guintoli (Ducati) 1’48.5; 7. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’48.7; 7. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’49.1
Source: Edited Althea Racing Release
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FG_AUTHORS: Mark Morrison