File photo courtesy World Superbike
Marco Melandri has had a crazy 2013 World Superbike season so far, with crashes, a nagging shoulder injury and bizarre bike issues that kept him from starting a race earlier this season. Coming home to Italy looks to be the medicine the five-time MotoGP race winner needed, as Melandri not only set the pace at Monza Friday in qualifying aboard his factory BMW, he also broke a three-year-old qualifying lap record on a still green track, freshly dry from early rains.
Friday’s qualifying session was delayed due to an oil spill in turn eight, but once the green flag flew Melandri gave Italian fans something to cheer about when, with about three minutes to go, he blistered Monza with a lap of 1:42.883. It was a somewhat surprising performance for the BMW rider who was running behind Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes, who were trading the fast lap back and forth earlier in the session.
Melandri’s mark bettered the old Monza qualifying record of 1:42.937 set by Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow in 2010.
Sykes set the early pace with a 1:44.9 on his factory Kawasaki and before he and Guintoli traded the top spot a couple of times. About halfway through the session series points leader Guintoli put the factory Aprilia in P1 with a 1:43.8, followed immediately by an even better 1:43.5.
Guintoli’s time held for nearly the rest of the session, but Melandri was starting to find his groove. First he clicked off a 1:43.7 to move into second and while fast it gave no hint of the blistering lap he was about to uncork.
Heads must have when with three minutes to go Melandri’s lap record time flashed on the scoring monitors putting him atop the leaderboard.
Jonathan Rea, who had been fast in the damp morning session, proved he has Monza dialed wet or dry, when he put the factory Pata Honda CBR1000RR into second with two minutes to go with a 1:43.157, nearly 3-10ths of a second off Melandri’s torrid pace.
Early session leaders Guintoli and Sykes ended up third and fourth. Davide Giugliano turned in a solid preliminary qualifying taking fifth on the satellite Aprilia.
BMW's mixed day saw Chaz Davies' spectacular crash at Turn 10, that destroyed his bike.
Next up is Superpole on Saturday. Bein Sport will have Saturday’s Superpole at Monza, as well as Sunday’s races streaming live.
Monza - FIM Superbike World Championship – Friday - Qualifying 1
1. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'42.883
2. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'43.157
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.510
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'43.521
5. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.623
6. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.849
7. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'43.956
8. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'43.961
9. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'44.106
10. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'44.466
11. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'44.763
12. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'44.823
13. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'44.992
14. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'45.855
15. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'46.336
16. Fabrizio Lai (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'47.192
17. Kosuke Akiyoshi (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'47.201
18. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'47.509
19. Mark Aitchison (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'47.521