Donington World Superbike front row with Leon Haslam (2nd), Davide Giugliano (pole) and Marco Melandri (3rd). Former WSBK champ Carl Fogarty was the presenter. (Photo from TV broadcast)
In one of the most riveting Superpole sessions in series history, Davide Giugliano proved to have nerves of steel in the rain and came through with a nail-biting lap that put the Italian and his Ducati on the pole for Sunday’s pair of World Superbike races.
A very wet track made for riders running on a knife’s edge the entire Superpole session. Jonathan Rea got the session started on top, the WSBK standings leader putting his Honda into P1 with a 1:49.171. But the time didn’t last as Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam came through to lead and then Rea again and then Sylvain Guintoli and that’s the way it went nearly the entire session, with the P1 rider getting knocked off the top nearly every lap.
And it also seemed that winning the pole was a curse. Almost every rider who took the top spot promptly crashed. First it was Guintoli crashing after going P1, then Rea went to the top spot for the third time and then lost it on the brakes and fell. And finally it was Giugliano at the very end taking the pole only to find himself seconds later in the gravel trap.
To say it was hectic would be an understatement.
All eyes were on homeboy Haslam, the final rider going in the session after the checkered flag flew. The “Pocket Rocket” had fast sectors, but in the end came up 1-10th of a second short (1:45.009) of knocking Giugliano off the pole.
Quietly putting himself on the front row next to Giugliano and Haslam was none other than veteran Marco Melandri, smoothly pushing the factory Aprilia to a time of 1:45.111.
It was a disappointing Superpole for defending champ and Donington winner Tom Sykes. The Kawasaki ace could only manage seventh fastest, as he appeared to have issues with his helmet’s visor fogging.
Giugliano’s pole means that there have been five different Superpole winners in the five rounds so far this season. It marked the second-career Superpole for Giugliano.
Afterwards the Italian was short with his comments.
“I’m very happy, because the result for me is very, very beautiful,” Giugliano said. “This Superpole was most difficult, but my bike is very good and I’m very happy.”
For Haslam his qualifying session put him on the front row for the first time in two years. He now appears fully fit after his horrific left leg break last season at Assen.
“Since breaking my leg last year I haven’t had the best of times getting to where I want to be results wise,” said Haslam, son of former GP star Ron Haslam. “For me this is a good start to my season this year, on the front row. Still got a little bit more work to do for the dry setup, but for the rain I had a good feeling on the bike. We made a lot of steps over the winter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can get the start that’s needed and we can try to get in there with the front guys.”
Melandri was happy with starting back on the front row, after a lackluster start to 2014.
“It’s very important to be here [on the front row] and I’m very happy to be here,” Melandri said. “I want to say thanks to my guys who have been working so hard. It was very, very tough. The first part of the track was very fast and very slippery. It was impossible to find the limit of the lean angle of the bike. The last part was a bit better, but very tricky with the long braking, as Giugliano crashed in front of me. Anyway it was tough, but tomorrow will maybe be the same so it will not be easy. We have to take it easy.”
World Superbike qualifying – Donington Park – May 24, 2014
1. Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati SBK 1199 Panigale R 1m 44.903s
2. Leon Haslam GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR 1m 45.009s
3. Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing RSV4 1m 45.111s
4. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 1m 45.258s
5. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 1m 45.839s
6. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 1m 46.058s
7. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 1m 46.241s
8. Jonathan Rea GBR PATA Honda CBR1000RR 1m 36.306s
9. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 1m 46.326s
10. Eugene Laverty IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 1m 47.963s
11. Chaz Davies GBR Ducati SBK 1199 Panigale R 1m 50.099s
12. Ayrton Badovini ITA Bimota Alstare BB3 No Time (E)
13. Christian Iddon GBR Bimota Alstare BB3 1m 49.541s (E)
14. Claudio Corti ITA MV Agusta RC F4RR 1m 49.961s
15. Alessandro Andreozzi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 50.509s (E)
16. Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1m 51.062s (E)
17. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 1m 53.656s (E)
18. Leon Camier GBR BMW Italia S1000RR No Time (E)
19. Fabien Foret FRA MAHI Kawasaki ZX-10R No Time (E)
20. Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R No Time (E)