Sykes Raises the Bar with Pole Position and Record Lap
The Tissot Superpole ahead of tomorrow’s two Superbike World Championship races has been won by Tom Sykes of the Kawasaki Racing Team after a blistering lap in hot and sunny weather at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. The current reigning champion and points leader of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship clocked in 1’21.811, a new World Superbike best lap of the circuit, to claim the 23rd WSBK pole position of his career, his third in a row after the ones scored at Misano and Portimao.
Sykes’ time was just .582 seconds off the current motorcycle track record of 1’21.229 set by MotoGP’s Dani Pedrosa at the 2012 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Tom Sykes: “It was a really exciting Superpole. I knew that we would be struggling all weekend because many of our competitors are very strong here but you know, slowly but surely, we got the Ninja working much better and I’m a lot more confident for tomorrow. We put the Pirelli qualifying tire in and I had a little stab at it, I also had a small moment down the Corkscrew, but we put a great lap time together and I’m happy. The boys worked hard and it’s going be close tomorrow, I think there’s a number of people with great race pace so I look forward to it.”
In the final 15 minutes, top 12 grid deciding session, the expectant American fans were not left disappointed after a series of fast laps kept them guessing as to who would emerge as the front row qualifiers. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) set the initial benchmark of 1.23.752 before being eclipsed by his teammate Marco Melandri. The Ducati pairing of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies split the Aprilia duo before Guintoli reclaimed the top spot with 9 minutes to go.
At the flag it was the reigning champion Sykes who lived up to his title of Mr. Superpole, edging Sylvain Guintoli and Chaz Davies by half a second. The top three riders were presented with the Tissot-Superpole Award by former WSBK champion Doug Polen.
Sylvain Guintoli: “Second position is not so bad. I made a fast lap, but my record lap from last year has been destroyed. Anyway, the first row is the most important thing because at this track it’s important to start well. I’m happy about that, we did our homework. I think they’re going to be two tough races, so I hope we can all enjoy them.”
Davide Giugliano, Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) grabbed 4th, 5th and 6th places on the grid respectively. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) crashed unhurt and will start 10th tomorrow.
The accolade of being the best classified EVO rider at the U.S. round went to Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati) in 12th position overall, the only EVO rider to make it through to the final shootout.
Christian Iddon (Team Bimota Alstare – EVO) fell in Superpole 1, with the British rider unhurt and able to race tomorrow.
Times: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1′21.811 average 158.854 kph; 2. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1′22.339; 3. Davies (Ducati) 1′22.384; 4. Giugliano (Ducati) 1′22.422; 5. Melandri (Aprilia) 1′22.704; 6. Laverty (Suzuki) 1′22.725; 7. Haslam (Honda) 1′23.181; 8. Baz (Kawasaki) 1′23.242; 9. Elias (Aprilia) 1′23.358; 10. Rea (Honda) 1′23.501; 11. Lowes (Suzuki) 1′23.562; 12. Canepa (Ducati) 1′23.924; 13. Barrier (BMW); 14. Iddon (Bimota); 15. Salom (Kawasaki); 16. Badovini (Bimota); 17. Staring (Kawasaki); 18. Morais (Kawasaki); 19. Camier (MV Agusta); 20. Andreozzi (Kawasaki).