Tom Sykes equalled Troy Corser’s all-time record of 43 career pole positions in WorldSBK by topping a crash-filled session at Phillip Island. The Yorkshireman outpaced Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty to claim the honours in the opening Superpole of the season while reigning champion Jonathan Rea could only manage sixth in windy conditions.
The unsettled weather quickly unsettled the riders in the pole position shootout with four going down in quick succession. Friday pacesetter Lorenzo Savadori was the first to fall, suffering a high-side at Siberia which brought out the red flags, before Leon Camier and Alex Lowes both tumbled at the Honda hairpin either side of a spill for Jordi Torres at MG.
Laverty was unconcerned by the gathering clouds and clocked a 1:30.399 on an early qualifying-tyre run. The Irishman remained on provisional pole thanks to an unusually slow lap from Rea who wound up six tenths slower but the second factory Kawasaki soon raised the bar, Sykes setting a 1:30.099 which wouldn’t be beaten.
Marco Melandri slotted into third on the Aruba Ducati despite, by his own admission, a mistake-filled lap, while Lowes recovered from his early crash to remount and snatch fourth, edging out Chaz Davies. Rea lines up sixth ahead of Xavi Fores and Michael van der Mark while the impressive rookie Toprak Razgatlioglu took ninth.
The fourth row will be made up of the three riders who crashed out of SP2, although Savadori looks set to miss out after breaking his collarbone.
WorldSBK 2018: Yamaha Finance Australian Round: Superpole
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