This result means that for the second time in his four round SBK career, McCormick has made it into this afternoon’s Tissot-SuperPole sessions. SuperPole sets the top 16 spots for tomorrow’s pair of 22 lap races, and gets worldwide live television coverage.
Although McCormick made it into SuperPole at round three in Assen in the Netherlands in April, that was largely due to ever changing weather conditions playing havoc with the event. Injured in the second Assen race, McCormick was out of action for four months before returning to the series aboard his 1098R Desmo at the most recent event at the Nurburgring in Germany two weeks ago.
“I told the team that I’ve never been so excited about placing 16th,” smiled McCormick, commenting on his lap of 1:44.480. The 21 year old from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan managed to shave a further half a second from his best time in yesterday afternoon’s first Q session. “I’m in it for real, not some half wet, half dry nightmare like we had at Assen. This was my goal going into this round, to get back to SuperPole, to show that I’m one hundred percent back up to speed.”
“I think I can take advantage of a Q tire this afternoon, maybe move up a couple of places,” reflected McCormick, looking ahead to SuperPole. “The bike has been good right from the start here at Portimao, we went softer on the rear that session lost some exit speed, so we came in and made some changes. We worked on the rear end, got some steering back, and for that whole session, I had no real moments, no front slides really, no back.”
“In my fast sector early in that session, I almost ran into Camier, and that actually helped me, I reeled the group I was with back in, used them as a target and got a good lap. I did some 44.4s, some 44.5s, but none of those laps were really perfect.”
Late in the session, McCormick held off the challenge of factory Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR racer Hiroshi Aoyama, the former 250cc Grand Prix World Champion. Aoyama wound up 17th overall with a time of 1:44.469. Aoyama and McCormick are part of a large group less than two seconds away from the best time set by Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Factory at 1:42.800.
“We were trying to get some laps in on soft tires, get ready for the race,” explained McCormick, who next has a 45 minute Free Practice to prepare for Tissot- SuperPole. “We’ve been working with the new Pirelli slick, it’s a 200 in width, but I haven’t decided what we want to do for the races tomorrow. We’ll try a different race combo with the tires, we’re looking for around half a second, and then we’ll be right in there for the races.”
World Championship series points leader Biaggi heads into SuperPole as quickest followed by his arch rivals in the title chase: Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja at 1:42.94 and Marco Melandri’s BMW S1000RR with a lap at 1:42.99. Only these three riders have so far turned lap times below the magic 1:43 barrier.
Portimao is the penultimate event in the SBK series, and one racer from this trio will wear the series crown after the sole remaining event at Magny-Cours in France on October 7.