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Old 10-03-2015, 05:00 PM   #1
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World Superbike Magny Cours qualifying: Haslam on pole

After four dry sessions, the habitual rain finally hit the Magny Cours track – home of the second-to-last World Superbike round – resetting the score just before Superpole began. In a rather chaotic session that saw five crashes, Leon Haslam took pole position with a 1:56.404. The Aprilia rider, who claimed first spot on the grid for the second time this season after Aragon (Spain), also finished on the ground during his last time attack. Despite watching from the sidelines, however, he still managed to fend off one last push by the newly crowned champion Jonathan Rea.

“The crash was my fault,” Haslam admitted. “I thought I left enough space between myself and the two riders in front of me, but I quickly caught up and, to pass them quickly enough, I hit the kerb. I didn't think I got pole position. I only realized that when they brought me to parc firmé instead of my pits. Still, we've been close to the front all weekend so I think we can fight for a win tomorrow, regardless of the weather conditions.”

As far as crashing goes, Haslam found himself in good company. Chaz Davies (fourth), Sylvain Guintoli (fifth), Tom Sykes (ninth) and Alex Lowes (eleventh) also fell from their bikes. The latter, who slid off at turn Three, looked momentarily unconscious and prompted the corner marshals to wave the red flags with a couple of minutes still on the clock. The incident somewhat confused Jonathan Rea, who aborted his flying lap.

“I saw the flag but, once I entered the pits, I didn't see anyone in parc firmé,” said the Kawasaki rider, who missed pole position by only four thousandths of a second. “My crew chief then told me I had to go back out in ten seconds. But, my tires were not warm enough as I slowed down to come back in. I had a couple of warnings, which was fun in a way, but I was posting the best partial times. In the final sector, however, I was a bit nervous because it was really wet and I had no one in front of me so I rode a bit like a little girl (laughs).”

Niccolò Canepa was not unfazed either, but still managed to put his privateer Ducati in first row for the second consecutive time. The Italian rider, 0.508 seconds behind Haslam, is still looking for a bike for next season (he has initiated contacts with Honda) and vowed to take a different approach during the race after having crashed out in Spain.

“The weather conditions and the bike's setup are very different from Jerez, but we took third place again, which shows our understanding of the bike has improved a lot,” Canepa commented. “I only wish I could have ridden the Ducati since the beginning of the season. I think a podium is within our reach in the wet, but it's always a lottery, especially here where the asphalt gets so slippery. I have a good rhythm in the dry, I can be in the top five and I won't overcook it like I did in Spain. I know the limits now.”

Davies opens second row in front of Guintoli and Scassa (who replaces the injured Davide Giugliano). The Welshman has been the man to beat all summer long, and will look to extend his dominant form – four wins and two second-place finishes in the last six races – into the autumn season and consolidate his advantage in the championship over Sykes, who is currently 22 points behind in the chase for runner-up. That is, the last privilege left up for grabs in a season dominated by Rea and Kawasaki. The weather, however, threatens to be the main protagonist. The latest forecast hint at two dry races but, in France, conditions can change quite rapidly.

World Superbike Magny Cours final qualifying results:
1. Leon Haslam (GBR) Aprilia Racing/Red Devils 1:56.404
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team 1:56.408
3. Niccolò Canepa (ITA) Althea Racing Ducati 1:56.912
4. Chaz Davies (GBR) Racing-Ducati SBK Team 1:57.049
5. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Pata Honda WSBK 1:57.839
6. Luca Scassa (ITA) Racing-Ducati SBK Team 1:57.991
7. Leon Camier (GBR) MV Agusta Reparto Corse 1:59.768
8. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia 2.00.676
9. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team 2:01.144
10. Markus Reiterberger (GER) VanZon Remeha BMW 2:01.800
11. Alex Lowes (GBR) Voltcom Crescent Suzuki 2:02.277
12. Jordi Torres (SPA) Aprilia Racing/Red Devils 2:02.379
13. Matteo Baiocco (ITA) Althea Racing Ducati 1:59.117 (SP1)
14. Leandro Mercado (ARG) Barni Racing Ducati 1:59.446 (SP1)
15. Michael Van der Mark (NET) Pata Honda WSBK 2:00.528 (SP1)
16. Pawel Szkopek (POL) Szkopek POLand Position Yamaha 2:02.809 (SP1)
17. Gianluca Vizziello (ITA) Grillini SBK Kawasaki 2:03.982 (SP1)
18. Román Ramos (SPA) Team Go Eleven Kawasaki 2:04.796 (SP1)
19. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Voltcom Crescent Suzuki 2:06.621 (SP1)
20. David Salom (SPA) Team Pedercini Kawasaki
21. Christophe Ponsson (FRA) Team Pedercini Kawasaki
22. Gábor Rizmayer (HUN) BMW Team Toth
23. Alex Phillis (AUS) Grillini SBK Kawasaki
24. Imre Toth (HUN) BMW Team Toth

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