Photography By: Gold & Goose
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes earned his second straight pole position to start his 2012 World Superbike season, the Brit outdueling his rivals to dominate the final Superspole session in Imola, Italy today.
After qualifying saw all the top men close at the top, Superpole 3 was another story as Sykes ripped off a 1:46.748 on his ZX-10R to best Team Effenbert Liberty Racing's Sylvain Guintoli by almost half a second - .473 of a second - to claim the fourth pole position of his career.
“To get two Tissot-Superpole wins on the roll is fantastic," Sykes said. "I dug deep after the second Superpole because I knew the times would be fast. On my fastest lap in Superpole 3 I had a lot of feedback from my Kawasaki. A couple of times I arrived past the limit, but the feel was good so I could finish with a good lap. A few of us have very consistent race pace so there will be a big fight over full race distance.”
Sykes chased World Champion Carlos Checa and Guintoli in Superpole 1 - the first Superspole of the season as the three sessions were cancelled on Saturday at the series opener in Phillip Island. But he bounced back to take Superpole 2 over Checa and was at his very best during Superpole 3 with the only lap of the weekend in the 1:46s.
With Guintoli earning second in the final session, third went to Checa - the Althea Ducati rider .675 of a second behind Sykes.
Leon Haslam, back to almost full strength after breaking his lower leg prior to the Phillip Island opener, ended up fourth - one spot better than Aprilia's Max Biaggi, the championship points leader.
Haslam's BMW teammate Marco Melandri was sixth with Honda's Jonathan Rea, who suffered a huge highside in the final Superpole session, ending up seventh. Sykes' Kawasaki teammate Joan Lascorz ended up eighth in the eight-rider final session.
John Hopkins, the lone American in World Superbike, didn't qualify for Superpole. He will start tomorrow's two races from 19th on the grid on the Crescent Fixi Suzuki - two spots behind former Daytona 200 winner Chaz Davies.
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:46.748
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:47.221
3. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:47.423
4. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:47.458
5. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:47.611
6. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:47.642
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:47.643
8. Joan Lascorsz (Kawasaki) 1:47.740
9. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 1:48.108
10. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:48.137
19. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:49.790