Tom Sykes claimed his 29th World Superbike pole position after outpacing champion-elect Jonathan Rea at Jerez on Saturday. The Yorkshireman led a Kawasaki 1-2 ahead of surprise front-row challenger Niccolo Canepa although Rea is in the box seat to clinch the title in tomorrow’s opening race.
Having set the pace on Friday, and in FP4 in the run-up to Superpole, Sykes entered the pole position shootout as favourite and he ultimately enjoyed a comfortable advantage over his teammate, beating Rea by two tenths of a second.
Although Sykes is expecting a close fight at the front tomorrow, the 2013 champion admits his best chance of victory would be to make an early break.
“A few guys are very strong so it is good to be at the front for tomorrow’s two races. I like to ride out front, that is how I like to do it. I do not like anybody behind or in front of me – I just like to go and race the tarmac. We found some clear air but had a difficult time in the first run with the race tyre, and the lap time was incredibly slow. When we put the qualifying tyre into the Ninja ZX-10R for the second run it was very easy to manage. It was such an enjoyment to ride then and to get the record was just a little bit something extra for today. Overall the target was the front row and I think our race pace is also OK.”
Rea, requiring just a top ten finish to clinch the title in tomorrow’s opening race, will start second on the grid although he only edged out the impressive Canepa by eight thousandths of a second after unwittingly towing the Althea rider around on his quickest lap.
Michael van der Mark also shone, emerging from SP1 before securing fourth on the grid while FP3 pacesetter Jordi Torres had to make do with fifth on home soil. Chaz Davies lines up sixth, knowing he needs a top two finish to have any chance of delaying Rea’s title coronation, while Michele Pirro, Matteo Baiocco and Alex Lowes will make up the third row.
PIRELLI SPANISH ROUND: SUPERPOLE CLASSIFICATION
|1||66. Tom Sykes||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:40.292||SP2|
|2||65. Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:40.500||SP2|
|3||59. Niccolo Canepa||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:40.508||SP2|
|4||60. Michael van der Mark||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike Team||1:40.956||SP2|
|5||81. Jordi Torres||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:40.974||SP2|
|6||7. Chaz Davies||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:41.155||SP2|
|7||55. Michele Pirro||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:41.185||SP2|
|8||15. Matteo Baiocco||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:41.415||SP2|
|9||22. Alex Lowes||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:41.427||SP2|
|10||1. Sylvain Guintoli||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike Team||1:41.467||SP2|
|11||91. Leon Haslam||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:41.512||SP2|
|12||44. David Salom||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||No Time||SP2|
|13||2. Leon Camier||MV Agusta||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||1:41.745||SP1|
|14||36. Leandro Mercado||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||1:41.908||SP1|
|15||14. Randy de Puniet||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:42.486||SP1|
|16||40. Roman Ramos||Kawasaki||Team Go Eleven||1:42.584||SP1|
|17||86. Ayrton Badovini||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK||1:42.714||SP1|
|18||23. Christophe Ponsson||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:42.774||SP1|
|19||45. Gianluca Vizziello||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:43.746||SP1|
|20||75. Gabor Rizmayer||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:43.826||SP1|
|21||10. Imre Toth||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:46.622||FP2|
|22||48. Alex Phillis||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:46.717||FP2|