Tom Sykes will start the first two races of the 2012 Superbike World Championship from pole position although he achieved it in far from ideal circumstances. Saturday afternoon's Superpole session was cancelled after a tragic accident which took the life of Superstock 600 rider Oscar McIntyre.
The 17 year old from Queensland was involved in an accident on the second lap of the Australian Superstock 600cc race with Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart who both appear to have escaped life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, McIntyre's injuries proved to be fatal and after attempts from circuit medical staff to revive him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
With Superpole not taking place, the grid positions were decided by the earlier qualifying sessions, handing Sykes top spot ahead of Max Biaggi and reigning champion Carlos Checa. The front row will be completed by Jakub Smrz who outpaced his teammate Sylvain Guintoli by 0.049s.
In the absence of John Hopkins, the hopes of SBK newcomers Crescent Fixi Suzuki rested on the shoulders of Leon Camier but the Briton responded superbly to grab sixth while fellow debutants Red Devils Roma will have been similarly ecstatic with seventh thanks to Niccolo Canepa.
Rounding out the second row will be Jonathan Rea but the Northern Irishman might have qualified higher but for a crash in Saturday qualifying. The Honda rider was quickest of all on Friday and couldn't better his time of 1:31.966 today, causing him to tumble down the order. His new teammate Hiroshi Aoyama had an even tougher time and finished down in 17th, ruling him out of Superpole in any case.
The remaining Brits had disappointing days with Eugene Laverty and Leon Haslam taking 11th and 12th as both rode on despite injuries in the pre-race test at Phillip Island. Haslam still had enough to edge out his new teammate Marco Melandri though as BMW made an inauspicious start to the new campaign.
SBK rookie Chaz Davies had the worst day of all after a crash which left him with a broken wrist. The World Supersport champion had started promisingly and qualified in 15th place, but his misfortune will rule him out of tomorrow's races.