DONINGTON PARK, Great Britain – The fifth Tissot-Superpole of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship season got underway Saturday at Donington Park under an unusual British sunshine and home fans were not surprised to see Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) scoring his 15th career pole position. Thanks to his fourth consecutive top slot on the grid, the Huddersfield-born rider equals Colin Edwards at sixth all-time for Superpole wins, one off fellow Englishman Neil Hodgson. The works Kawasaki rider bettered the previous fastest lap of the circuit three times, getting down to an unbeatable 1:27.378.
“We have worked hard on the race set-up here not just in qualifying,” Sykes said. “There are a number of factors why I can do well in Superpole but I have always enjoyed riding by myself on the best package we have. Combine that with the ‘time-trial’ element of Superpole and I just race myself and the tarmac.
“The refreshing thing is that the Ninja ZX-10R is working well over race distance and we should have a fairly consistent package for tomorrow’s races. That is the most important thing.”
Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) matched exactly the previous record set last year by Sykes (1:27.716) to secure second spot on the grid alongside teammate Eugene Laverty.
“I’m really happy to be here on the front row because around this circuit there are at least five fast riders with a similar race pace,” Laverty explained. “So it’s very important to start from the front row, especially since the characteristics of this track make overtaking quite difficult. I’m also happy to keep up my row one streak. It’s a great sign of consistency and it is a good indicator of the shape of both my RSV4 and myself.”
After coming close to an early elimination in Superpole 2, Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) progressed to an outstanding fourth place, a great result for the Ulsterman, who won the last WSBK race held on the Leicester circuit.
There was also an encouraging performance for Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), who was fifth at the chequered flag to precede works BMW riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) and Niccolò Canepa. The ‘One Event’ rider, current Championship leader in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, was the only entry of Team Ducati Alstare to qualify for Superpole 3, finishing ninth.
Spaniard Carlos Checa ended his charge to the front rows in Superpole 2 and will start from 10th place on the grid, while Ayrton Badovini was 14th behind local man Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike), who was cleared to ride just before Free Practice 1 on Friday morning.
Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) kept his outstanding momentum up by scoring his ninth career pole position, the third in a row for the current World Supersport Championship leader. The local rider rode to an amazing new best lap for Donington Park in 1:30.276, improving by 0.6 seconds the time set in Saturday morning’s Free Practice 2.
The Brit decided to get back on track again towards the end of the session after Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) closed the gap to the front by lapping under 1:31, to further improve his already competitive time.
The Turkish rider will start from second place on the grid ahead of ‘One Event’ rider and current British Supersport Champion Glen Richards (Smiths Triumph Team), who had a spectacular collision in the closing stages with rookie Alex Schacht (Racing Team Toth Honda) with both riders able to walk away uninjured.
An encouraging fourth is Frenchman Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki), substitute for injured David Salom, who kept himself with the front runners after a really positive performance in the previous round.
World Superbike Tissot-Superpole Times
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:27.378 (165.749km/h)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:27.716
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:28.014
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:28.139
5. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:28.252
6. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1 :28.280
7. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1:28.644
8. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1:28.779
9. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1:29.318
10. Carlos Checa (Ducati);
11. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki)
12. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
13. Leon Haslam (Honda)
14. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati)
15. Michele Fabrizio (Aprilia)