20.35pm Saturday

Just a handful of people remain here in the media centre (though I suspect they - unlike me - are in one of the hotels just around the corner from the circuit), so I shall be signing off soon. Out of principal, I won't leave before Luca Scassa, who seems to have spent more time on his laptop in here than on the circuit this weekend...

My plans to watch the Australian Grand Prix could be scuppered by the fact we lose an hour tonight as well - must make sure I am ready, awake and alert for what promises to be a fantastic day of racing tomorrow.

For those coming tomorrow, wrap up warm and come early to get a good spot on the circuit - though not before I get here, traffic can be notoriously difficult!

If you aren't coming, put the computer near the TV, get Crash.net on the screen and settle in for a great day of racing - it's far too cold to be gardening or doing the DIY anyway!

20.30pm Saturday

Those wondering what happened to Jonathan Rea in SP3, the Northern Irishman had used all of his tyres.

However, he isn't too fussed, claiming the races will be won by those that choose the best 'tactics'. He is hoping he has done the right homework...

20.25pm Saturday

Chris Vermeulen has also commented on his decision to withdraw after one day, saying a bit of fluid on the knee gave him no choice but to sit things out as a precaution.

Nonetheless, both he and team manager Paul Risbridger have been pleased with the pace on his return - it's just a shame we didn't see more of him!

20.15pm Saturday

A few interesting things to note looking through the reaction to Superpole. Checa is keeping a lid on his excitement until he sees what the conditions are like tomorrow, while Haslam - who was grinning like a Cheshire cat throughout my interview with him - has the swagger of a possible race winner on the BMW.

Sykes was also a very happy man (when isn't he?) with third, so that elusive podium could be in the offing.

Meanwhile, Haga didn't mention Biaggi, but is instead worried about an arm injury he picked up here at Donington two years ago (the one that potentially changed the course of the title race that year...). He says the cold conditions are bringing some pains to the surface - not that that is likely to slow Mr Nitro Nori at all come race day.

19.15pm Saturday

Apologies for the lack of updates - been sprinting around the paddock getting some interviews for you (you will witness the fruits of my labour of the coming week or so...).

In the meantime, it's dark again - remember those clocks go forward for tomorrow - and there is opera being played on the Donington Park tanoy system. Fairly creepy given it is pitch black here...

I've sauntered back to the media room - (warm) cheese roll in one hand, energy drink in the other - to crack on with reaction from Superpole (you will witness the fruits of that labour over the next hour or so...)

Must crack on!


For those thinking Biaggi would come into some official wrath from stewards for blocking Haga and Melandri, there has been no change to the results as yet.

Perhaps Haga is happy to have at least out-qualified his adversary. Perhaps being a fellow Aprilia team means there are just some things you don't do to the hand that feeds you...

17.00pm Saturday

It looked serious, but Laverty was unharmed in his accident at the Craner Curves - the Irishman winning the unofficial award for most spectacular of the many tumbles occurring at the fearsome downhill bend.

It's good news... we can't risk dropping to 18 bikes tomorrow!

16.45pm Saturday

If it is your intention to come up to Donington Park tomorrow, I have one word of advice - wrap up warm! It is bitterly cold here... Not so much slip, slop, slap, but coat, hat and gloves. Seems like we got the good weather out of our systems yesterday!

16.30pm Saturday

Smiles (or in Sykes's case, grin) all round as Checa, Haslam, Sykes and Smrz savour their front row starts during the post-qualifying paddock interview.

No huge revelations - it's almost a shame there was no Biaggi, Haga or Melandri there to get some 'fruitier' comments, but few will deny that is a popular front row for tomorrow's races.

16.00pm Saturday

The British riders tried, but they could do nothing about the ever reliable Carlos Checa, who cooly swept to a second straight WSBK pole here at Donington Park.

It looked very easy for the Spaniard and after his display at Phillip Island, those title odds are continuing to tumble...

Excellent performances for Haslam and Sykes sees them on the front row - the latter bringing a welcome dash of green to the head of the grid.

Meanwhile, Haga and Melandri might be visiting the stewards - and Biaggi himself - after both having their qualifying efforts hampered by the reigning champion.

Haga did out-qualify Biaggi, but he might appreciate seeing his rival get a bit of a punishment...

15.45pm Saturday

Biaggi isn't proving a popular figure as he baulks Haga on his fastest lap too - the normally placid Japanese rider showing his displeasure with a wave of the hand. It was particularly frustrating for him as he was on for a session-topping lap.

Checa, Haslam, Smrz and Haga are the current front row after

15.35pm Saturday

Tensions rise as Biaggi's team-mate Camier commits the final Aprilia-related blow to Melandri and knocks the Italian out of the reckoning in ninth position - a bad day for Yamaha.

Corser, Fabrizio and Lascorz have also been denied and will line up 10th, 11th and 12th.

Pole position will come down between Checa - who was fastest in SP2 - Smrz, Haslam, Rea, Sykes, Camier and a rather lucky Biaggi.

15.30pm Saturday

A bit of fist-waving between Biaggi and Melandri as he former holds his former MotoGP rival up on a quick lap. No love lost here!

It doesn't end there, Melandri planting a very racy move at the hairpin on Biaggi to run him out wide. MotoGP-style psychological games in WSBK? Surely not...

15.15pm Saturday

Disappointment for Laverty as he can't quite to scrape into SP2 after jumping on the spare bike and wringing its neck with three determined last gasp laps. Unfortunately, his best left him a tenth short in 13th.

He is joined by Guintoli, Berger and Xaus on the fourth row.

Fastest man at the end of SP1, however, is Sykes!

15.05pm Saturday

Superpole is underway and Eugene Laverty has fallen victim to Craner Curves in a big way, the Irishman's Yamaha flipping down the hill.

The man himself seems unhurt as he sprints back in the direction of the pit lane, but that was his first lap... He needs to run quickly!

14.30pm Saturday

The countdown to Superpole is on, with the riders out for FP2 to hone their single-lap settings.

The session has just ended with Checa in front, ahead of Haslam, Sykes, Melandri and Smrz. No major dramas, everyone stayed upright this time!

14.20pm Saturday

Been out to look at the new Fogarty (Foggy) Esses, which have been opened out to increase entry and exit speeds - think Magny-Cours, rather than Monza now.

On the one hand, it's a shame to lose the stop-start nature of the previous corner - which always tested the resolve of the late brakers -, but the new configuration is still a challenge and should promote more overtaking into the hairpin.

14.00pm Saturday

After munching down a lovely three-course lunch at Aprilia (there are perks to this job sometimes!), I had a quick chat with Camier, who is looking far more 'alert' than he did at Phillip Island.

He said his fever has gone and the illness itself has passed, but he is still reeling from the after-effects. It means he is still tiring easily. The cooler conditions are helping this weekend, but he admits this will still be a tough two races.

Nonethless, he is out on track for FP2 - just ahead of Superpole -, unlike Vermeulen, who has withdrawn.

Down to 19 riders...

12.10pm Saturday

A small respite (or as the riders, teams and media call, lunch) before it all kicks off again this afternoon for Superpole.

Earlier this week, we reported that on-board cameras will be used for the first time in Superbikes. It is a method they have been testing in the sessions leading up to Superpole, when the coverage will be unleashed to the wider public - and you're in for a treat.

The low-mounted camera - with the tarmac whizzing at the bottom of the screen - is a sight to behold and shows the spectacular speeds these bikes can get up to.

Usefully, one has been attached to Biaggi's Aprilia - which means we got a screen full of gravel twice in that last session...

Tune into Superpole to see the results, but it will be race day where the cameras will come into their element.

11.35am Saturday

Just six riders improved their lap times during Q2, though one of them was Michel Fabrizio, who crept up to 15th position late on, pushing Badovini - who went so well in FP1 - down to 17th.

He is joined by Roberto Rolfo, Mark Aitchison and Chris Vermeulen, the latter failing to go out, with rumours suggesting one day of riding was enough for his knee and he won't continue this weekend.

11.15am Saturday

Having bitten back at a few rivals in the Supersport class, the Craner Curves has claimed its first Superbike victim of the day in Guintoli.

The Frenchman is having a difficult weekend as he recovers from his Phillip Island spill, but as he saunters away from the Liberty Ducati, he is now just two spots from the drop zone in 15th.

Even so, with 15mins remaining, the cool conditions are so far preventing anyone from getting close to their Q1 efforts.

11.10am Saturday

Those that have ventured out in the cold and pitched their chair and thermos at Redgate will have been rewarded as Max Biaggi took the trouble to head all the way out to the tyre barrier and say hello.

In reality, he misjudged the first bend and wobbled along the gravel trap in the hope of rediscovering some grip to get it turned, but with the barrier looming, he laid it down and jumped off.

No damage to rider or bike, Biaggi is already out on circuit again.

In the meantime, the 'bottom four' remain as they were with Fabrizio, Rolfo, Aitchison and Vermeulen - who hasn't gone out on track - filling 17th to 20th. Rea, who was on the bubble in 16th, is up to 13th having been one of only three riders to improve on their Q1 times so far.

10.10am Saturday

They can't stop falling this morning - Rea, Parkes and Salom have all come down (the Kawasaki riders dropping it at the same point), but have rejoined the circuit.

Davies is fastest now, but the times aren't close to those set yesterday.

10.00am Saturday

One man that looks like he will be sitting out the remainder of the World Supersport weekend will be Fabien Foret. The hapless Frenchman crashed heavily yesterday, hurting the right hand he had already injured back in Australia.

Taken to hospital for a check-up, Foret is not on track at the moment and has just whizzed past on a scooter in jeans, jumper and a jacket. Whether he will be back for final qualifying later remains to be seen, but it seems Ten Kate's hopes of retaining their title are already hanging by a thread.

Meanwhile, Lowes and Scassa have resumed battle in Supersport FP2, though lap times are currently 1.5secs down on what they were managing in Q2. Meanwhile, Craner Curves has claimed some victims, with Quarmby and Chesaux both coming down.

09.30am Saturday

While victory on his World Supersport debut at Phillip Island certainly drew praise from fans, some also took the time of point out that Luca Scassa appears a little over-sized for his ParkinGO Yamaha YZF-R6.

Indeed, the man himself admits his fairly chunky frame is not particularly ideal for Yamaha Supersport dimensions...

"It's not comfortable at all," he laughs. "The team worked really well to make it for my measures, but the bike - from an aerodynamic view - it's bad!

His win in Australia suggests it's not affecting him too much, however, with Scassa saying he can shift his weight around, it's not the disadvantage you would imagine.

"The weight of the rider is more important because you can choose where to put the weight - forward, backwards... If you don't have weight, then you can't."

09.00am Saturday

Well this is more like it - gloomy skies and a chilly wind... Yes, the shorts and sunglasses have been replaced with a hefty coat and gloves this morning. It's dry for the moment, but the temperature has dropped significantly since yesterday.

This is significant as it could scupper plans by those currently in the Q2/Superpole 'danger zone' (Fabrizio, Rolfo, Aitchison and Vermeulen) from improving if the track conditions can't improve.

Before that, the Supersport riders are out for their second free practice session at 9.45am



Loading Comments...