MONTEREY, Calif. – The Tissot-Superpole ahead of Sunday’s two WSBK races was won by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) after a blistering lap in hot and sunny weather at the Laguna Seca circuit in California on Saturday. The current reigning champion and points leader of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship clocked in 1:21.811, new outright best lap of the circuit, to claim the 23rd WSBK pole position of his career, his third in a row after the ones scored at Misano and Portimao.
“It was a really exciting Superpole,” Sykes said. “I knew that we would be struggling all weekend because many of our competitors are very strong here but you know, slowly but surely, we got the Ninja working much better and I’m a lot more confident for tomorrow.
“We put the Pirelli qualifying tire in and I had a little stab at it, I also had a small moment down the Corkscrew but we put a great lap time together and I’m happy. The boys worked hard and it’s going be close tomorrow, I think there’s a number of people with great race pace so I look forward to it.”
In the final 15-minute, top 12 grid-deciding session, the expectant American fans were not left disappointed after a series of fast laps kept them guessing as to who would emerge as the front row qualifiers. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) set the initial benchmark of 1:23.752 before being eclipsed by his team mate Marco Melandri. The Ducati pairing of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies split the Aprilia duo before Guintoli reclaimed the top spot with nine minutes to go.
At the flag it was reigning champion Sykes who lived up to his title of ‘Mr. Superpole’, edging Guintoli and Davies by half a second. The top three riders were presented with the Tissot-Superpole Award by former WSBK champion Doug Polen.
“Second position is not so bad,” Guintoli said. “I made a fast lap, but my record lap from last year has been destroyed. Anyway, the first row is the most important thing because at this track it’s important to start well. I’m happy about that, we did our homework. I think they’re going to be two tough races, so I hope we can all enjoy them.”
Giugliano, Melandri and Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) grabbed fourth, fifth and sixth places on the grid respectively. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) crashed unhurt and will start 10th on Sunday.
The accolade of being the best classified EVO rider at the US round went to Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati) in 12th position overall, the only EVO rider to make it through to the final shootout.
Christian Iddon (Team Bimota Alstare – EVO) fell in Superpole 1, with the British rider unhurt and able to race on Sunday.
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:21.811 (158.854km/h)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:22.339
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1:22.384
4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:22.422
5. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 1:22.704
6. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) 1:22.725
7. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:23.181
8. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:23.242
9. Toni Elias (Aprilia) 1:23.358
10. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:23.501
11. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) 1:23.562
12. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1:23.924
13. Sylvain Barrier (BMW)
14. Christian Iddon (Bimota)
15. David Salom (Kawasaki)
16. Ayrton Badovini (Bimota)
17. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)
18. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)
19. Leon Camier (MV Agusta)
20. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki)
–From the World SBK Press Office