Tom Sykes produced arguably his most impressive Superpole display yet to secure pole position for tomorrow’s World Superbike races at Imola. The Kawasaki rider recovered from the disappointment of seeing his first pole lap disallowed to break another lap record to head Jonathan Rea and Davide Giugliano.
Ironically, the disruption to SP3 came after a heavy crash for Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz who lost control on the approach to Rivazza, sending his ZX-10R on a series of cartwheels which ruptured the fuel tank, spilling its contents all over the apex of the left hander. Sykes was three quarters of the way through a stunning lap which stopped the clock at 1:46.287, way quicker than anyone else could manage, but the red flags came out before he reached the finish line, rendering the lap null and void.
Despite the loss of his qualifying tyre, Sykes returned on a race tyre to clock a 1:45.981 and make absolutely sure of pole, a result he put down to the decision making of his mechanics.
“That Superpole win was down to a good call by my crew chief Marcel who said, after the red flag incident, we should use a fresh race tyre rather than the used qualifier I had wanted to go out on again. So my best lap was done on a race tyre and I wanted to try my best and put in a big push for the great fans here and I got it a bit sideways a few times. To be honest, for me it was not the pole position that meant that much. To me it was to get on the front row first of all and also because I was motivated because I had to finally use a race tyre. When I produced that kind of fast lap time I was excited. Doing that Superpole session on a race tyre has also given us good information for the races tomorrow. I am looking to put in strong results after my stupid mistake in Portimao and two strong finishes would put that memory to bed.”
Rea was half a second back in second with Davide Giugliano grabbing the last place on the front row from Sylvain Guintoli. The championship leader will have teammate Eugene Laverty behind him though in fifth with Leon Camier next to the pair in sixth. Marco Melandri was seventh with Ayrton Badovini and the aforementioned Baz rounding out row three.