After yesterday's difficult conditions, Team Alstare Suzuki was happy to see a dry track and sunshine in this morning's timed qualifying for the final round of the World Superbike Championship in Portugal.
But all the good work in the session at the new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portimao was of no use in the afternoon 16-rider Superpole shoot-out because the heavens opened and the 4.592 kilometer track was drenched in water. So Superpole was declared a 'Wet Superpole', with the top 16 riders all having a maximum of 12 laps in 50 minutes to post their fastest laps and take their grid positions.
The riders who went out at the beginning managed faster laps than the riders who waited, hoping for the conditions to improve. But instead, the rain fell even heavier and the deluge meant that many parts of the track had standing water.
Suzuki Alstare riders Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama ended with the 16th and 13th quickest laps respectively with Alstare Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner 15th. And, if that wasn't bad enough all three suffered falls in the treacherous conditions, but fortunately all escaped without injury.
Troy Bayliss (Ducati) took Superpole with Cal Crutchlow (Honda) second, Jonathan Rea (Honda) third and Max Biaggi (Ducati) fourth.
Yukio Kagayama - 13th, 2:05.408: 'This afternoon's Superpole was very wet and slippery and not easy at all. There was a lot of standing water on the track and that made things very tricky. My crash happened without me knowing about it! I was letting off the brakes with the bike almost upright and suddenly I was on the floor! Tomorrow is going to be very hard because I am on the fourth row of the grid and I do not have a very good feeling for the bike - in either dry or wet conditions. We need to find some solution in the morning warm-up and then I need two good starts if I am to end the season with good results. But, I will try my hardest, as usual, and see what happens.'
Max Neukirchner - 15th, 2:06.830: 'In the dry this morning we found a set-up that was not so bad, but we didn't find a good front and rear tyre combination. Because this track is so new, there is not enough rubber down to give good grip and as soon as you go off-line you can get into trouble. We learned more about the feeling of the bike in the wet this afternoon, but even so I am hoping that tomorrow will be dry and we can have some good races. I am not happy with my fourth-row grid position, but I will try and make two really good starts and fight for good results.'
Fonsi Nieto - 16th, 2:10.953: 'I do not like this track in the wet and I found it very slippery. I had a small crash in the rain but I wasn't hurt at all. I could not get a good feeling with my bike in these conditions at all, so I am hoping that tomorrow will be dry. I have been on the fourth row of the grid before this season, so this situation is not new for me. I know that whatever the conditions tomorrow I need to get two good starts and that's what I will be aiming for.'