Assen (The Netherlands), Saturday 21st April 2012: the third Superpole of the 2012 World Superbike Championship took place this afternoon with very variable conditions at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen. Carlos Checa, championship leader after two rounds, qualified in fifth place for tomorrow’s races while his team-mate Davide Giugliano will start from the fifth row, in nineteenth position.
As expected, this morning’s second qualifying session took place in the rain and with a track temperature of just 4 degrees (air temperature 8˚C). Despite the difficult conditions, Giugliano made some fast laps right from the start, recording one of the fastest times of the first half of the session (2m01). Unfortunately, towards mid-session, the Althea Racing rider crashed, but was thankfully unhurt. It took time to repair the damage to the bike and so Davide was unable to return to the track. Lap times began to fall in the final stages of the session when the rain stopped but Carlos wasn’t taking any risks, preferring to work on the set-up and recording a best of 1m57. Yesterday’s dry qualifying times thus determined who would enter this afternoon’s Superpole, meaning that Checa qualified with no problems in fourth position while Giugliano unfortunately closed outside of the top sixteen. He will start from nineteenth position on tomorrow’s grid.
Today’s Superpole was declared ‘wet’ despite the fact that the rain had stopped once more and the track was beginning to dry out again. Regulations dictate that a wet Superpole comprises two free sessions, each twenty minutes in length. Carlos went out on slick tyres and by the end of the session had clocked a best time of 1m38.8, closing the first phase in third position and proceeding to the second phase without difficulty.
This time Checa took to the track first with a race tyre and then on a qualifier. The times dropped dramatically in this second session, thanks to a quickly drying track. The Althea flagbearer recorded a fastest lap time of 1m37.1 which assured him of fifth position on the grid for tomorrow’s races.
“This weekend has been, let’s say, different to many others, in that we’ve seen almost everything from a weather point of view, and such variable conditions have prevented us from working well, as it’s not been really dry or really wet for any length of time. In these conditions it’s also difficult with only one bike, as we can no longer set up one for the dry and the other for the wet, and so we lose time. I can’t make any guesses for the races, the only thing I can say with certainty is that everything is entirely unpredictable here at Assen!”
“Let’s say that it didn’t go our way this morning. We hoped to be able to make a few laps in the dry, seeing as we didn’t manage to qualify for the Superpole during yesterday’s session. But the track only got worse during today’s session, and was neither completely wet nor totally dry. I’d say that we’re better prepared for a wet race tomorrow, as we’ve had less time to work in the dry, but I just hope that we have one or the other, wet or dry, rather than mixed conditions like today.”