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Surprise maiden WSBK pole for Badovini

31 August 2013

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Ayrton Badovini will start a World Superbike race from pole position for the first time in his career after prevailing in an exciting head-to-head with Marco Melandri at a sodden Nurburgring.

With a leaden sky depositing its rain just five minutes before the start of Superpole, a wet session – which comprises of two 20min phases – was subsequently declared, with all riders heading out on treaded tyres.

With conditions more stable than they were at Silverstone when a wet session was controversially declared midway through SP3, the fight for pole position at the Nurburgring looked as though it would come down to those most comfortable in the wet and with less to lose by pushing.

With this in mind, it was perhaps little surprise to see Badovini battling it out up front given both of his WSBK podiums came in slippery conditions at Silverstone in 2012 and at the Moscow Raceway this year.

Indeed, it was an impressive performance by Alstare Ducati rider Badovini, who – having topped SP1 with his final lap – continued to methodically gather his momentum during SP2 as the circuit improved.

That said, it looked as though Badovini would still be playing second fiddle to a flying Melandri in the fight for pole position, the two Italians constantly trading the top times, but with the BMW rider always proving the marginally quicker of the two.

However, with just three minutes remaining and the wet tyres beginning to wane slightly, Melandri's relentless pace over the final laps was stymied as he posted two non-improvements, allowing Badovini – riding a bike that is renowned for being kinder to its tyres – a prime shot at stealing the top spot with his final effort.

With one flying lap remaining, Badovini duly picked up the pace to pump in a lap time of 2mins 09.513secs, denying Melandri by just a tenth of a second to secure a popular first WSBK pole position and only the second for the Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Behind Melandri, Tom Sykes was also embroiled in the pole position fight for a time but his hopes of adding to his tally ended with a high-side at turn two with three minutes to go. Despite this, Sykes will still get away from the front row in third.

Creeping closer to the front row, fourth place for Loris Baz signals a new career-best for him as he held off Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, the British pair showing well to put both PATA Hondas on the second row.

Having been the man to beat in the dry, the arrival of rain would scupper Chaz Davies's hopes for pole position even before he matched Sykes in suffering a high-side at turn two on his final lap.

As such, he will start seventh alongside championship leader Sylvain Guintoli, the Frenchman opting for caution after a few noticeably wobbly moments, and Jules Cluzel, another rider to end his day on the ground after a low-speed slip at turn one.

Earlier on, the fight to get into SP2 was an intense one as the riders attempted to make the most of the steadily improving conditions towards the end of the session.

The biggest casualty was certainly Eugene Laverty, who was bumped down to 12th position having never looked entirely comfortable in the wet conditions. There was also disappointment for Suzuki's Leon Camier, as he will start down in 11th behind the privateer Ducati of Max Neukirchner.

Heading up row five will be Michel Fabrizio, the Italian just ahead of Davide Giugliano and Matej Smrz, the wild-card rider also suffering a fall at turn one.


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