Sykes is Mr. Superpole at Assen

Cycle News Staff | April 27, 2013

Photography by Gold & Goose

April 27, 2013 — It will be an all British Isles front row for the Assen World Superbike round Sunday, as Saturday’s Tissot-Superpole at the TT Circuit Assen was dominated by Brit Tom Sykes, who turned a 1:35.043 on his factory Kawasaki. He’ll be joined on the first row by Irishmen Jonathan Rea (1:35.639) and Eugene Laverty (1:35.814).

Kawasaki, Honda and Aprilia made it three different manufacturers leading the way for tomorrow’s races.

 It marked the second pole of the season for Sykes and his 13th career World Superbike pole.

Besides Sykes’ dominating performance, the big story in Superpole was the fact that Aragon double winner Chaz Davies didn’t make it out of Superpole 1. Davies saved his qualifying tires after setting what seemed to be a safe time to get him into the top 12 to make it to round two, but then one rider after another recorded faster times. With a minute left in the session Davies suddenly found himself on the bubble in 12th. Then Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli clocked a top-12 time and Davies was caught sitting in his pits without time to respond. It was a shock to see the most recent race winner and BMW factory rider sitting on the sidelines for the rest of day, but such is the nature of Superpole.

Sykes, who was fastest in the rain Friday as well, seemed to have speed to spare on the 2.8-mile Assen circuit. He looked effortless in setting the fastest times in pole S1 and S2 and was brimming with confidence going into the final S3 Superpole session.

In S3 Sykes casually went out behind the other eight riders, took a very slow out lap and then popped the cork on his Kawasaki to set the best time of the day. He stayed on the gas for a second lap with the goal of trying to better the WSBK track record of 1:34.944 set by Rea in 2010, but couldn’t quite get there.

Still it was a remarkable day for Sykes, who has clearly become the man to beat in Superpole in 2013.

“Coming here this weekend I wasn’t quiet expecting this (to win pole),” Sykes claimed. “It’s not our strong circuit, but I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve got some top people fighting for me in my corner. The Zed-XR has been working great. It’s been great over long distance, which is the main thing for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the races tomorrow. Hopefully we can have similar conditions.”

The Assen circuit was just what Rea needed to get his program back on track. Assen is a home circuit for Pata Honda and it showed.

“I’m just first excited to be back in here,” Rea said at the post-qualifying. “It’s been since the end of last season that I’ve been in a press conference. I’m looking forward to the races. My guys have done some work and I’m feeling very, very comfortable for the race. The time we’ve had this weekend has been quite minimal to put distance on the race tire. I actually thought I could go with Tom (Sykes) this weekend and really, really pushed, but I had a big front slide in turn three and just put my heart rate through the roof, so I nursed it home. I want to send some get-well messages to my teammate Leon (Haslam).”

Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty will be starting from the outside of row one, continuing his string of excellent qualifying outings dating back to last season.

“I really happy to be on the front row,” Laverty said. “The record is still going from last year to be on the front row. Today I thought it would be difficult because Carlos and Johnny and Sylvain were going to be strong, so I’m really pleased to be on the front row and I’m looking good for the race as well. It’s really tough to beat Tom (in Superpole). It’s as good as done when he takes to a qualifying tire. We’ll see where we are in the race tomorrow. I think it’s going to be an interesting one because nobody really knows much about the race tire because it was wet yesterday. We’ll try to do some work in the morning warm up and give it some in the race.”

Assen – FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’35.043
2. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1’35.639
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’35.814
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’35.973
5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’36.166
6. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’36.326
7. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’36.330
8. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1’36.438
9. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’37.570
10. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’36.837
11. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1’36.937
12. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1’38.561
13. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’37.865
14. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 1’38.016
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’39.420
16. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’40.534
17. Mark Aitchison (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1’41.408
18. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’42.390
19. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 2’01.728