Under threatening skies, hometown ace Tom Sykes was the quickest in dry qualifying this morning at round ten of the eni Superbike World Championship at Silverstone in the United Kingdom. Aboard the works Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, title contender Sykes set a best time of 2:05.35, almost half a second quicker than his closest competitor around the long, 5.9-km Silverstone layout.
Sykes currently sits a close third in the World Championship standings with five sets of races remaining on the 2012 schedule.
Second best this morning around the fast Silverstone layout was a terrific effort for oft-injured but quick American John “Hopper” Hopkins, riding for the U.K.-based FIXI Crescent Suzuki squad. Former Grand Prix racer Hopkins competed in the British National Series last year, and was a front runner at Silverstone SBK in 2011 on a GSX-R1000 very similar to his current mount.
BMW Motorrad Motorsports’s Marco Melandri, a double winner at the most recent SBK round at Brno in the Czech Republic, was third best at 2:06.1, followed by the second FIXI Suzuki of Leon Camier at 2:06.12. Fifth belonged to Sylvain Guintoli, another former British National SBK series front runner, who turned a best lap at 2:06.21 in his debut with the PATA Ducati squad.
Current championship points leader Max Biaggi managed only 15th best time with the works Aprilia RSV4 Factory, and will scrape in to this afternoon’s SuperPole sessions, when the top 16 will battle for Sunday’s best grid spots. Friday’s pace setter, reigning World Champ Carlos Checa, riding the Althea Ducati 1098R, sat out much of the session but managed a tenth best effort–- expect more from the veteran Spanish rider this afternoon in SuperPole.
Canadian World SBK series rookie Brett McCormick opted not to take part in the second qualifying period, but plans to ride his Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati in the next practice session if the currently wet conditions improve. Back in action after a three-month layoff due to serious injuries, McCormick expects to compete in an upcoming Series round, but will not ride in Sunday afternoon’s two World title counters here at Silverstone.