Tom Sykes struck the first blow on a potentially decisive weekend in the Superbike World Championship by taking pole position for tomorrow’s races at Magny Cours. The Briton, who could be crowned champion tomorrow, put in a sensational lap late in SP2 to leave the rest squabbling over second with Sylvain Guintoli snatching it from Davide Giugliano.
Pre-session rain saw a switch to the ‘Wet Superpole’ format but conditions were virtually dry for the all-important second session. Eugene Laverty made the brighter start with a 1:41.682 but once Sykes switched to the qualifying tyre, the whole complexion of the session changed with the Yorkshireman going a full two seconds faster.
While Sykes regrouped in the pits, his rivals set about closing the gap with Giugliano getting to within 0.362s but pole position was well and truly sewn up for Sykes with a 1:38.592 which added a second onto his advantage at the top. Crucially for the championship though, Guintoli dragged a 1:39.397 out of his final set of qualifiers to take second with Giugliano rounding out the front row.
Eugene Laverty will have to come through from the second row after qualifying fourth ahead of Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini while the fourth championship contender, Marco Melandri, has an even tougher Sunday on his hands starting from seventh. Chaz Davies starts alongside on the second GoldBet BMW while World Endurance Champion Vincent Philippe starts ninth on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki vacated by the injured Leon Camier.
A rapidly drying track kept everyone guessing in SP1 with all four championship contenders finding themselves in the drop zone four minutes from the end. A last minute dash from the two Aprilias lifted Guintoli and Laverty out of danger but a mistake from Sykes piled the pressure on the Kawasaki rider who needed an error-free final lap to progress. Tom held his nerve to go fastest while Melandri did likewise to go through in sixth.
Marco’s last gasp improvement knocked Michele Pirro out and the SBK debutant marked his first Superpole session with a heavy crash at the Imola chicane, suffering a heavy bang to the head. If he’s passed fit tomorrow, Pirro will line up in tenth ahead of Toni Elias and local favourite Jules Cluzel with David Salom, Lorenzo Lanzi and Leon Haslam making up the fifth row.
|2013 eni Superbike World Championship – Round 13: Magny Cours|
|Wet Superpole Result|
|1||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:38.592|
|2||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||Aprilia Racing Team||1:39.397|
|3||Davide Giugliano||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||Althea Racing||1:39.933|
|4||Eugene Laverty||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||Aprilia Racing Team||1:40.410|
|5||Michel Fabrizio||Honda CBR1000RR||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:40.864|
|6||Ayrton Badovini||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||Team Ducati Alstare||1:40.926|
|7||Marco Melandri||BMW S1000 RR||BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK||1:41.361|
|8||Chaz Davies||BMW S1000 RR||BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK||1:41.375|
|9||Vincent Philippe||Suzuki GSX-R1000||FIXI Crescent Suzuki||No Time|
|Eliminated In SP1|
|10||Michele Pirro||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||Team Ducati Alstare||1:47.871|
|11||Toni Elias||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||Red Devils Roma||1:47.886|
|12||Jules Cluzel||Suzuki GSX-R1000||FIXI Crescent Suzuki||1:48.221|
|13||David Salom||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:48.916|
|14||Lorenzo Lanzi||Ducati 1098R||Mesaroli Transports A.S.||1:50.257|
|15||Leon Haslam||Honda CBR1000RR||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:51.796|
|Failed To Qualify For Superpole|
|16||Mark Aitchison||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Pedercini Team||1:41.137|
|17||Federico Sandi||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Pedercini Team||1:41.281|
|18||Fabrizio Lai||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||MR-Racing||1:42.474|
|19||Vittorio Iannuzzo||BMW S1000 RR||Grillini Dentalmatic SBK||1:43.180|