WorldSSP: Stapleford Takes Maiden Pole Under the Desert Floodlights in Qatar
Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) turned his Friday fortunes around to take pole position on Saturday for his first time, after graduating from Tissot-Superpole 1 earlier in the evening. The Brit finished 17th overall on Friday and was able to completely turn things around in the second session to secure the front row start.
Reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) qualified in second, while his teammate Randy Krummenacher finished in third, after having also set the fastest pace on Friday. The Swiss rider was the quickest of his rivals for the overall runner-up spot to qualify, giving him the advantage heading into the final race on Sunday.
With track temperatures at a prime 32 degrees at the beginning of the session, WorldSSP riders were able to set their fastest times in Superpole 2. Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) continued his good pace into Saturday evening and qualified fourth, ahead of last year’s Qatar winner, Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) in fifth.
2016 runner-up contender Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) qualified in sixth, ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in seventh, who graduated from Superpole 1 earlier in the evening. Ayrton Badovini (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini) will be starting Sunday’s race from eighth on the grid, while Honda World Supersport Team’s PJ Jacobsen will have to work hard on Sunday to catch his rivals, after he qualified in ninth.
Christoffer Bergman (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) finished the Superpole 2 session in tenth, while Kyle Ryde (Schmidt Racing) and Michael Canducci (GRT Racing Team) rounded out the top 12 positions on the grid respectively.
The stars of WorldSSP will be back on track for the ultimate Sunday clash on the 30th of October at 19:15 local time (GMT+3), where Krummenacher, Cluzel and Jacobsen will go wheel to wheel to finish the season in second overall.
Quotes from the top three riders:
L.Stapleford (TRIUMPH): “It is something that I never expected. We had a few problems yesterday like I have mentioned a few times before. This morning obviously we knew we had found something. We used a harder tyre and we managed to get in a good rhythm so we knew when we put the soft tyre on for qualifying we could find a bit of pace, but we weren’t certain on even getting into SP2 so to top it off with pole is really unexpected. I want to give a big thank you to the guys. We’ve worked really hard this year, we have had to learn a lot of new circuits so this sets us up well for tomorrow and going into next season.”
K.Sofuoglu (KAWASAKI): “Last year especially I was very fast at this track. This year I can’t say we are really far away, that we made the bike perfect. But I think the bike is on a good level and we are ready.”
R.Krummenacher (KAWASAKI): “It wasn’t actually a really good Superpole lap. I struggled a bit today. We have some more grip but we sort of can’t use it and I’m sure we can use it better. We are on the front row, it is good for the race. I am confident and for sure we can improve for tomorrow. So let’s race!”
WorldSSP Tissot-Superpole 2:
Luke Stapleford (GBR) TRIUMPH 2’01.621
Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR) KAWASAKI 2’01.680
Randy Krummenacher (SUI) KAWASAKI 2’01.851