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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Melandri claims first ever Superpole

From the WSBK Pressoffice

Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) put in a great performance in qualifying for the World Superbike Championship event at Motorland Aragon to take his first ever Tissot-Superpole success on Saturday and also give Yamaha its first top grid slot of the season.

Melandri set a new track best of 1 minute 57.634 seconds in Superpole 3 and he will start Sunday's 20-lap races with his great rival Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) as his closest challenger. Biaggi's team-mate Leon Camier and championship leader Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) complete the front row.

"It's awesome, I'm very happy," Melandri said. "I didn't think it could happen, especially after Superpole 1 when I almost lost the chance to go to the next one. When I saw Max in front of everyone in Superpole 3, I had a few guys in the middle on race tires so I passed them and followed Max to set my best time so I need to say thanks to him for my lap time."

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) put in a late charge on race tires to claim fifth, with Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team), Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) all joining him on row two.

The competition for places in qualifying was remarkable at such a long 5.344km circuit, with combined qualifying (which determines the top riders who go forward to Superpole) ending with the top 16 riders within a second of each other.

The four riders who had to exit Superpole after the second of three sessions were Misano podium finisher Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia), Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing), Michel Fabrizio (Team Suzuki Alstare) and the remarkable Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) who had his most impressive qualifying of the year, ending up 12th from 20 riders in his rookie WSBK season on a privateer machine. 

The first casualties of the stopwatch as the first session finished included a surprise figure, as Jakub Smrz (Effenbert-Liberty Racing) was second place in combined qualifying but he ended up 13th on the grid after Superpole 1. Even more of a surprise in some regards was that official BMW riders Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) were unable to compete the way they hoped and finished 14th and 16th respectively. Privateer Ducati rider Maxime Berger (Supersonic Racing Team) took a fourth row start after posting some impressive times in earlier qualifying and practice sessions.

Broc Parkes (Kawasaki Motocard.com) booked his ticket for a repeat win with another terrific performance in Saturday's World Supersport final qualifying session. The Australian's time of 2:02.093 was almost four-tenths quicker than his Spanish team-mate, David Salom, who was also on form. A fighting third place went to Britain's Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda), while fellow-Brit Chaz Davies completed the front row for the Yamaha ParkinGO team.

Erstwhile championship leader Luca Scassa (Yamaha ParkinGO) could only manage fifth place and a row 2 start, with Massimo Roccoli (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) grabbing sixth place in the final stages from Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR Honda).

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Racing Team Ducati) laid down the gauntlet to his fellow Superstock 1000 runners by setting a scintillating time of 2:01.161, almost one full second clear of the next man, Lorenzo Zanetti (BMW Motorrad Italia Superstock). Zanetti was a fraction ahead of points leader Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) in third, while the all-Italian front row will be completed by the returning Niccolò Canepa on another Ducati, the SS Lazio Motorsport version.

Jed Metcher (MTM-RT Motorsports Yamaha) was the fourth different winner in the first four rounds of this year's exciting Superstock 600 European Championship. The Australian, now firmly in second place in the table, finished just over one second ahead of points leader Romain Lanusse (MRS Yamaha Racing France), but the Frenchman is now 20 points clear in the table. The final podium slot went to Belgium's Gauthier Duwelz (MTM-RT Motorsports Yamaha), who held off a fierce challenge from a trio of riders on Yamaha and Honda machinery.

World Superbike Tissot-Superpole Times
1. Melandri M. (ITA) Yamaha YZF-R1 1:57.634
2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1:57.790
3. Camier L. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1:58.279
4. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1:58.472
5. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1:58.641
6. Laverty E. (IRL) Yamaha YZF-R1 1:58.756
7. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1:59.194
8. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000RR 1:59.591
9. Haga N. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1:58.566
10. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1:58.640
11. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1:58.950
12. Aitchison M. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1:59.680
13. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1:59.355
14. Haslam L. (GBR) BMW S1000RR 1:59.367
15. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1:59.507
16. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000RR 1:59.565
etc.

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