In his fourth career SBK outing aboard the Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R, McCormick set the 17th best time in the second and last Free Practice session. Earlier in the day, Saskatoon-born McCormick was 16th quickest in the second Qualifying session, earning him a spot in the Tissot-SuperPole showdown this afternoon.
“SuperPole should be fun,” stated McCormick after the 45 minute session run in hot, sunny and blustery conditions just off the coast in far southern Europe. “Overall, we are still trying out things, getting better, working with the goal of being competitive in the races tomorrow.”
“I did some high 1:44s, riding with worm tires,” continued McCormick, who set a best lap of 1:44.95, almost a second off his lap time so far. “I have a good idea how things will feel past half distance in the race. If I could still be lapping in the 1:44s mid-way through the two races tomorrow, then for sure I would be happy.”
“Right now, I know that a fresh rear tire is worth around a second, but I want to know how the bike will work as things progress,” continued McCormick about the series spec Pirelli slick rubber.
In SuperPole, special softer Q tires are a major factor, and McCormick is looking forward to the challenge, his first run on this type of rubber since 1999. “We’ll use our two Qs early on, and try to get into the second SuperPole session, maybe get onto the third row, something like that. I’m looking forward to trying out the better grip, even if it doesn’t last that long.”
“I think we are in good shape in full race conditions,” concluded McCormick. “I think we’ll be able to mix it up tomorrow. Now I just have to see how far I can move us up the grid.”
The Portuguese round marks McCormick’s second SuperPole outing. The SBK series rookie made the impressive jump up to SuperPole in his second career World SBK outing at Assen in the Netherlands last April, but weather played a major part during that event. At Portimao this weekend, he earned his trip to SuperPole on pure pace.
Quickest time in the noon session again belonged to series points leader Max Biaggi, who set a lap time of 1:43.29 on the works Aprilia RSV4 Factory. Second best lap belonged to Tom Sykes riding the lead Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, at 1:43.31, while Brit Leon Haslam was third on a BMW S1000RR at 1:43.53. The second works BMW of Marco Melandri was fourth best with a tour at 1:43.56.
With four races to go in the 2012 World Championship at two circuits, with a total of 100 points still available, Biaggi leads the standings with a total of 318 points, trailed by Melandri at 308.5 and Sykes with 291.5 points. Those half points, awarded in rain abbreviated events at Monza and Silverstone earlier this year, could turn out to be crucial.