Riders arrived at the last qualifier looking to secure their starting position on the grid. This was the last chance for teams to get as high up the grid as possible before the season finale in November. Remember, only tie top ten fastest rider qualify for the season finale.
With FP 3 cancelled due to heavy downpour, the question on everyone’s lips prior to Saturday was if the inclement weather will let up on Saturday. Thankfully, despite the odd drizzle, the track was cleared for final practice and qualifying. What a huge relief.
Defending champion, Ahmed Al Pacino, again decided to sit out qualifying. Badblood and Blow also did not partake in qualifying. Badblood could not as he is not physically ready to get on a bike let alone race. Blow was satisfied with his time from Q2 and felt it was not going to come under threat.
Free practice is a session that both the intermediate and the Supersport riders are all on the track at the same time, it makes it a tad difficult to know how fast a rider is going with respect to his/her fellow competitor in their class. Six teams, seven racers all took their turns in qualifying.
In the early exchanges of FP 4, it looked very much like Lolu and Dot of CC racing and Dot-09 racing respectively, were running the fastest times. Flygirl was just a shade slower while Val of Inferno was the slowest on the track. Ime Peters of Throttle Heads Racing was unable to partake in the session as the team battled furiously to get his GSXR ready for qualifying. It must be said he had the option of using his alternate bike, the YZF-R6, but the team were not keen on that option as they felt the bike was not suited for the track because of the lack of power delivery in the low RPMs.
Onto qualifying and Kominati of Team Supersonix was the first rider out. This was his first qualifying session, unfortunately he took a tumble shortly after his out lap. He went out later in the evening on another bike and was able to set a time. Considering this was his first time out and on a bike that was not set up for him, he did quite well to go out there after his off. He will miss out on race day as only the 10 fastest riders qualify and he qualified in twelfth. His only hope is if a number of riders ahead of him decide against racing in November.
Lolu was out next and did she go about her business. While she did not threaten the current top three riders’ time, she was the fastest of the rest and she must surely be happy with her time, almost 13 seconds faster than her time in Q 1, her team mates surely were. I always thought she was a fast street rider and was surprised by how slow she was in Q1. It turns out a series of practice runs wass all she needed. She qualified in P4. Considering that Badblood might miss out in November, she might find herself in P3.
Dot was next on track. The pace she initially showed in final practice deserted her as she was unable to match Lolu, perhaps the fall just before the end of FP 4 weighed on her mind. The team will be happy with the massive improvement from her Q2 time, a whooping 21 seconds. They cannot rest as they have their work cut out for them if they intend to grab a podium as she was 16 seconds slower than Lolu in this session. She will need to gain a few seconds on every section of the track to keep up with the second fastest group come race day.
Flygirl of 24-7 racing also improved her time since her last official timing back in February. She was 30 seconds better of this time around. Like Dot, she will have to see the positives in taking a huge chunk of time from her last session, but in order to ensure that she is able to challenge for a top six place, she will have to improve and keep a consistent rhythm, otherwise she will have to be content finishing in the bottom half of the race.
Val and Archie were representing Inferno racing and it was both their first time out this year. Val is one of six female riders to have participated in qualifying this year, same amount as the male riders which is a very good thing for the sport. While Val posted the slowest time this year, she will do well to remember that there is next season to think about. Archie on the other hand, qualified in P6 and ensures that Inferno racing will be represented in November.
Ime Peters of throttle Heads Racing (THR) was scheduled to be the last one out in this category mainly because the team was working to get the bike ready for qualifying. He did not even partake in FP 4 as a result. As to be expected, his session started horribly wrong with the GSXR cutting off power and eventually stalling at Turn 7. He came back in and took out his alternate bike with confusion ensuing between THR, race marshals and other teams. Eventually, he was given the all clear and he came in P5. His team are not too bothered as they are silently confident he will carve his way up the field during the race. They go back with plans to restore his preferred bike, Suzuki GSXR.
Kominati was the last one out on the day and his fall certainly played heavily on him as he was mainly concerned with bringing the bike in and posting a time. He qualified P12 which means he is not on the grid on the provisional list, but like Tony and Val, he will be keeping his fingers crossed and hoping that a couple of people skip the season finale.
What we have learned so far from all three qualifying sessions is that Ahmed is almost untouchable in this category. He only partook in Q1 and his time was never under any threat of being matched let alone surpassed. So many what ifs. What if Badblood was not injured, could he challenge his great mate and rival? No one has seen Ahmed playing catch up and perhaps the chance others have is to ensure their start is better than his. One thing is certain, with a clear track, he will keep it pinned. The other podium places will likely throw up more excitement with Blow, Lolu and Ime all capable of clinching the remaining two spots.
Name Team Bike Time (2 laps combined)
Ahmed Alpacino 24-7 racing Honda CBR 600RR 2:36.72
Blow* CC racing Honda CBR 600RR 2:42:38
Badblood ThrottleHead Kawasaki ZX-6R 2:43:24
Lolu** CC racing Honda CBR 600 2:54.12
Ime Peters** ThrottleHead Yamaha YZF-R6 3:00:90
Archie** Inferno Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 3:06.87
Dot** Dot09 Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 3:10:79
Flygirl** 24-7 racing Honda CBR 600 3:13.18
Akua 4eva racing 3:15.98
Queen Honda CBR 600 3:17.79
Tony* Inferno Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 3:27:60
Kominati** Team Supersonix Yamaha YZF-R6 3:29:92
Val** Inferno Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 3:43:21
* Times from the May qualifiers
** Times from the August qualifiers