Tom Sykes claimed his second pole position in succession with a typically dominant performance on Saturday afternoon at Assen. The Yorkshireman has looked in a class of his own on the Kawasaki all weekend and duly converted that potential into pole position, half a second ahead of Jonathan Rea who gave PATA Honda a welcome boost after a torrid weekend so far.
Sykes was quickest in both knockout sessions and moved straight to the top of the leaderboard on his first flying lap of SP3, a 1:35.043. That put him three quarters of a second clear of Eugene Laverty and although the Irishman closed the gap on his second lap, he was bumped down to third by Rea who pulled a 1:35.639 out of the bag in the last minute.
Laverty will start from the outside of the front row, one place ahead of teammate and championship leader Sylvain Guintoli, with Loris Baz and Davide Giugliano providing the competition for him on row two. Marco Melandri is the leading BMW in seventh with Carlos Checa eighth on the Ducati Panigale and Michel Fabrizio ninth on Red Devils Roma’s Aprilia.
Jules Cluzel failed to get the most out of his final set of qualifying tyres and tumbled out in SP2, finishing tenth overall, while the Ducatis of Ayrton Badovini and Max Neukirchner will join him on row four tomorrow after going eleventh and twelfth respectively. The Italian will be relieved just to be starting after a heavy crash earlier in the weekend.
After his sensational double victory at Aragon, Chaz Davies was brought back down to earth with a bump as Cluzel knocked him out of SP1 in the dying seconds. The Welshman set a 1:37.865 in the opening stages which he clearly thought would see him through but as he sat in the pits, Cluzel went half a second quicker to haul himself out of the drop zone at Chaz’s expense. Italian duo Ivan Clementi and Vittorio Iannuzzo were the others to fall at the first hurdle but Leon Camier didn’t even get that far after his FIXI Crescent Suzuki failed to run in Saturday’s second qualifying session. With his only times set in Friday’s wet session, he was easily demoted from the top fifteen.
Leon Haslam’s involvement in the weekend was brought to an end in Friday’s opening practice session with a crash which left him with fractures to his tibia and fibula. As a result, Rea will go it alone for PATA Honda tomorrow.