MAGNY-COURS, France – The penultimate Tissot-Superpole of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship season went to Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) on Saturday, courtesy of a circuit best lap of 1:36.366 after a fast and furious session saw the top spot change repeatedly in the final minutes. The Briton added his fifth pole position this year to the impressive tally of 24 so far in his WSBK career and he is now looking to make the most of the two races, scheduled for Sunday at Magny-Cours.
“I always ride a little bit reserved with a race tire in Superpole, especially with the one bike rule in place,” Sykes said. “My target today was very clear, however. It is always to get onto the front row at every race, but today I wanted to go for full glory.
“As soon as I put the qualifying tire in the Ninja ZX-10R was working brilliantly. All of a sudden we were able to put the bike where we wanted on the track a bit more easily and the new best lap time came relatively nicely. I was pushing, of course, and the bike was moving, but at the same time it was working well. Because of that I am very happy.”
Alongside Sykes on the front row Sunday will be Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) and Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), who kept his title hopes alive by making it onto the front row for the first time since the Portuguese round.
“I’m really satisfied with our work because the team has given me a great package here that I can ride really hard,” Rea said. “I feel that in the race we’re more prepared because the CBR is quite easy to ride and changing direction here is really good.
“I tried to give it a good go on the second lap and was able to finish on the front row. It’s very important to be on the front row because the hairpin is a big bottleneck for the riders on the first lap. Hopefully I can be at the front of that and set myself up for a good rhythm in the races.”
The top three riders were awarded with their trophies by former WSBK regular rider, 2003 runner-up and two-time race winner Ruben Xaus.
Row two comprises the second Ducati Superbike Team entry of Chaz Davies, and the Aprilia Racing duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Given the points situation, Guintoli will need two good starts in order not to lose too much ground from championship leader Sykes in the early stages of the two races.
The best classified EVO rider was Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia), who will start both 21-lap races from 13th on the grid. The Frenchman narrowly missed out on moving into Superpole 2.
EVO championship leader David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) rode through the pain barrier after an FP4 tumble to salvage seventh in Superpole 1, meaning a 17th position grid slot for both races Sunday.
Fabien Foret (Team Pedercini) will begin his final WSBK races from 20th on the grid.
In Superpole 1 Frenchman Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), seventh, set the fastest time during the session, moving into the final 15-minute shoot-out along with Max Neukirchner (3C Racing Team), who also progressed joining the already seeded top 10 riders after FP1, FP2 and FP3.
Jules Cluzel will start Sunday’s penultimate World Supersport race of the season at Magny-Cours from pole position after an enthralling qualifying session Saturday afternoon.
As in the Tissot-Superpole session for the World Superbike category the circuit best lap was smashed by Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), who is hoping to secure second position in the overall standings.
Joining the Frenchman on the front row but unable to match the 1:40.550 lap time will be the sensation of the event so far, wildcard rider Lucas Mahias (MG Competition), who is making his WSS debut and former champion Kenan Sofuoglu (San Carlo Puccetti Racing).
Row two sees recently crowned WSS Champion Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) alongside Roberto Tamburini (San Carlo Puccetti Racing) and American PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres), who took a small tumble in the final moments of the session.
The qualifying session ahead of Sunday’s STK1000 final round was full of drama as current series leader Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Team) crashed heavily in the final 10 minutes of the session as he tried to overhaul his arch rival Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini), who claimed the eventual pole position.
Savadori will be joined on row one Sunday by Ondrej Jezek (Barni Racing Team) and Fabio Massei (EAB Racing Ducati) with Kyle Smith (Agro-On Wil Racedays Honda), Sebastien Schet (Team BSR) and Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier By Aspi) making up row two.
Mercado, who was taken to the medical centre for checks, faces an uphill fight after ending the one and only qualifying session in 11th, meaning a fourth row start for the Argentinian rider.
The final STK600 race of the year was won by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Bike ServiceRacing) after a thrilling eight-lap race at Magny-Cours Saturday afternoon. The race was initially stopped after a nine-rider crash at the infamous turn four hairpin. All riders were uninjured an all but two were able to take the restart.
Razgatlioglu came out victorious with Anthony Dumont (SLMotuer) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) completing the podium.
Newly crowned champion Marco Faccani (San Carlo Team Italia) qualified on row 3 but was soon in the hunt, however the rider who has dominated the 2014 season soon found himself on the floor, a victim of a collision that he was unable to avoid.
Local wildcard Dorian Laville (Team Laville Mi&Do) took pole position for the last race of the Pata European Junior Cup, powered by Honda by edging out points leader Augusto Fernandez (Wil Sport) and Javier Orellana (Europ Food SL) at the end of the second qualifying session at Magny-Cours.
World Superbike Qualifying Results
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:36.366 (164.784km/h)
2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:36.593
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:36.906
4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1:37.021
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:37.184
6. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 1:37.190
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:37.215
8. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) 1:37.270
9. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) 1:37.407
10. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:37.575
11. Xavi Fores (Ducati) 1:37.673
12. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 1:37.877
13. Sylvain Barrier (BMW)
14. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
15. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
16. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)
17. David Salom (Kawasaki)
18. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta)
19. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)
20. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki)
–From the World SBK Press Office