Tom Sykes took Kawasaki back to the top of the timesheets when it mattered most, claiming his 28th World Superbike pole position at Sepang. The ZX-10Rs hadn’t featured near the front in free practice but once qualifying tyres were fitted, Sykes enjoyed a comfortable advantage in SP2.
The pre-Superpole form suggested that pole position would be disputed by the Aprilia riders with Jordi Torres, Leon Haslam and Max Biaggi locking out the top three places. Torres carried that form into Superpole, setting a 2:03.510, but Sykes found an extra quarter of a second on his final lap to wrestle pole position away from the Spaniard.
The Yorkshireman is expecting the Aprilias to provide stiff competition tomorrow although he doesn’t feel his lowly practice position is a reflection of his race pace.
“I had a great start to the weekend as my wife had just given birth to a baby daughter. On track we were a little bit behind to start with as we had a big schedule of work this weekend and had to compromise on it because of the session we missed yesterday in the rain. That is the same for everybody so overall I am relatively happy. We did what we wanted for Superpole and did what we wanted to do in Free Practice 4. The bike settings came good and I was really happy for that. In FP3 we stayed on a harder tyre all session just to evaluate some things and we almost got caught out. On paper seventh at that point may have looked bad, but in reality it was not the case and we moved back up the order. I think tomorrow will be interesting and we do not look in bad shape, so I am relatively confident. The weather may be a bit hit and miss but we are set-up now for dry conditions.”
Behind Torres, outgoing world champion Sylvain Guintoli claimed his first front row start of the season ahead of Biaggi with Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies rounding out the second row of the grid. Jonathan Rea, who could be crowned champion if results go his way tomorrow, was left to count the cost of a mistake at turn nine which left him back in seventh and the Ulsterman will have Leon Haslam and Niccolo Canepa for company on row three.
PIRELLI MALAYSIAN ROUND: SUPERPOLE CLASSIFICATION
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