Photography by Gold & Goose
Tom Sykes just continued his sterling Superpole performances by dominating every session of Saturday on his factory Kawasaki ZX-10R at the historic Donington Park. The sessions were held under sunny skies, a major departure from the cold wet conditions of Friday. Sykes broke his own track record of last year in SP2 and then continued to go even faster in SP3, shaving additional hundredths off the time finally settling the mark at 1:27.378.
It marked the fourth straight pole for Sykes and his 15th-career World Superbike pole, putting him tied for fifth on the all-time Superpole wins list with former World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards.
While happy with yet another Superpole (and the Tissot watch that goes with it) Sykes felt he lost out on an even faster lap.
“Honestly I was a bit disappointed,” Sykes explained. “I missed my first initial lap, which is the one that counts on the qualifying tires. I really struggled especially into turn one, but also four other turns with the initial brakes. So I sailed on and missed a number of apexes, but dug deep in the second lap and made it count, which is not really something worth to see on a qualifying tire. But overall I’m happy with another pole position.”
Sykes was perhaps most pleased with tying in the record books one of his racing idols.
“I’m tied now with one of me all-time heroes,” Sykes smiled. “I’ve always followed Colin since I was a younger rider and whose style I think is awesome. We’ll keep chipping away. Tomorrow is another day. We’ve worked hard with the race setting on the ZX-10R. Overall I’m quite relaxed and happy. We’ve got a good setting and hopefully some more weather like today.”
Aprilia factory riders Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty will join Sykes on the front row for Sunday’s races.
Guintoli briefly held P1 in the final session before being eclipsed by Sykes. Still the ever-steady series leader was enthused about his qualifying effort.
“We knew the Aprilia was strong on the fast tracks,” said the Frenchman. “After being competitive in Monza on a small track like here it looks like we are fast as well. I’m looking forward to it and I’ll try to get back on the podium.”
Laverty, who has struggled at Donington over the years, is looking to get on track this time around.
“I’m really happy to be here on the front row,” Laverty said. “Around this circuit there are so many fast riders with Leon Camier and Johnny Rea thrown into the mix as well. We’ve got seven potential race winners and I thought I might be the second row today. “
Jonathan Rea made a valiant effort, but just missed putting the Honda on the front row. He will start fourth on Sunday. Next to him is 2009 British Superbike Champion Leon Camier, who turned in a solid ride on the Crescent Suzuki to score fifth in Superpole. BMW’s Marco Melandri rounds out the second row starters.
Race one from Donington kicks off at 7:00 am Eastern and will be shown live on Bein Sports with the broadcast starting at 6:45 am Eastern.
Donington - FIM Superbike World Championship - Superpole
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'27.378
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'27.716
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'28.014
4. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'28.139
5. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'28.252
6. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'28.280
7. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'28.644
8. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'28.779
9. Niccolò Canepa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'29.318
10. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'28.454
11. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'28.844
12. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'28.850
13. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'29.172
14. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'29.211
15. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'29.214
16. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'30.817
17. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.010
18. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.145
19. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'33.141