Saturday, February 22


THIS year the eni Superbike World Championship has a new qualifying system.

In previous years the weekend has started with a free practice session (FP1) on the Friday morning followed by an official qualfying session (QP1) on Friday afternoon.

Saturday morning would see a second qualifying session (QP2) followed by a second free practice session (FP2) on Saturday afternoon.  The top 15 riders from QP1 and QP2 would then progress into the first of three Superpole sessions.  The top 12 riders from Superpole One would progress to Superpole Two, and after that, the top nine would make it to Superpole 3 to decide the first three rows of the grid.

Row four was made up of the three riders from Superpole 2 who did not make the cut and row 5 the riders who did not make it past Superpole 1.

The other grid positions were ordered on the results of the riders outside the top 15 based on their best times from either QP1 or QP2.

This year that has all changed.


Now there are four so-called 'Free' Practice sessions of which the first three are of 45 minutes duration and should really be called 'pre-qualifying' because the lap times recorded in these three sessions count toward who makes it into the actual qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon.  

The fourth (30 minute)  'Free' Practice session is really preparation for the two official qualifying sessions.

Now it is the top 20 riders ordered from their best results from either of the three 45 minutes 'free' practices sessions who will make it into the one or the other of the two official 15 minute grid-setting 'qualifying' sessions.
The top 10 will go directly to Qualifying 2. The other 10 will battle in Qualifying 1, with the top two riders of that session heading to Qualifying 2.
Those 12 riders will then battle for the top 12 qualifying positions (first four rows of the grid), and the remaining grid positions will be allocated based on the remaining riders best times in Qualifying 1 and the first three practice sessions.
The Superbike World Championship organisers say “this change is part of an effort to make WSBK and GP Sporting Rules as similar as possible, to create a common ground in terms of regulations that can help circuit organizers, marshals and everyone involved in both series.”
With the first 'free' practice session at Phillip Island run on a wet track (click here for results) the Saturday morning session will be crucial.

As long as the weather doesn’t interfere it is possible a rider on one of the  lower specification EVO class bikes could qualify for Qualiyfing 2.

Will it be Nicolo Canepa on the Althea Ducati 1199 Panigale or Australian Glenn Allerton on the BMW Motorrad Italia S1000RR?