Jonathan Rea claimed a rare Superpole victory over team-mate Tom Sykes as Kawasaki showed their strength on Saturday afternoon at Phillip Island. The British duo smashed the previous lap record to pieces with the first sub-1:30 laps of the Australian circuit on board a superbike, Rea pipping Sykes to pole by three hundredths of a second.
The first session featured no shortage of high-profile riders with Eugene Laverty making a return to Superpole action a session earlier than he would have liked. The Irishman clocked the second fastest time on his opening flying lap but the Milwaukee Aprilia slid off shortly afterwards at the Southern Loop. With no opportunity to improve, Eugene was knocked out of the running by Leon Camier and Michael van der Mark.
The early exchanges of SP2 took place on race rubber with Rea leading the way from the outstanding Xavi Fores but the times tumbled rapidly when the qualifying tyres were fitted. Rea’s 1:30.609 was beaten comprehensively by Yamaha’s Alex Lowes in the final minute, the Briton missing out on the 1:29s bracket by the narrowest of margins.
The Kawasakis were running close behind and Sykes chopped four tenths off Lowes’ time despite losing ground in the final sector. His shaky end to the lap came back to bite the Yorkshireman though when Rea completed his run, the world champion overhauling a two-tenth deficit to pinch pole position.
The Aruba Ducatis of Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies also broke the 90-second barrier to claim third and fourth respectively, relegating Lowes to fifth, while Lorenzo Savadori gave Milwaukee Aprilia something to cheer by qualifying on the back of the second row in sixth. Jordi Torres took seventh while Xavi Fores fell to eighth after crashing on his qualifying tyre at MG.
SP2 qualifiers Leon Camier and Michael van der Mark rounded out the top ten ahead of Nicky Hayden on the leading Red Bull Honda and Markus Reiterberger on the second Althea BMW.
WorldSBK 2017: Yamaha Finance Australian Round – Superpole Result
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