Tom Sykes is a long shot to win the 2012 World Superbike Championship as he goes into tomorrow's two races at the Magny Cours circuit in France with a 30.5-point deficit to Max Biaggi. But so far Sykes is doing everything he can to close that gap, the Kawasaki-mounted Brit earning his ninth pole position of the year today while Biaggi failed to make Superpole 3 and will start the races from the third row.

Sykes became the only rider to dip into the 1:36s at Magny Cours, the ZX-10R rider posting a 1:36.950 in Superpole 3 to snatch pole position. His time ended up being half a second quicker than Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa, the Spaniard set to line up next to Sykes on the front row after clicking off a 1:37.422.

Aprilia's Eugene Laverty ended up third quickest, the Northern Irelander ending up just ahead of the third championship protagonist, Marco Melandri. BMWs Melandri, who is 38.5 points behind Biaggi with the two races remaining, will start from the front row.

PATA Racing Team's Sylvain Guintoli will head the second row on his Ducati and he'll be joined there by Honda's Jonathan Rea, BMW's Leon Haslam and ParkinGO Aprilia's Chaz Davies.

Biaggi Superpole started well as he ended the first Superpole 1 sesssion at the top, the Italian ripping off a 1:37.790 at the very end of the session to best Rea's 1:37.813 - the Honda rider putting in his lap on is last go-around. Checa's 1:27.945 had led the field right out of the gate and it kept him third after the first session.

Laverty went to the top early in Superpole 2, then came Checa with a 1:37.662, followed immediately by Sykes and his 1:37.494. Biaggi, meanwhile, was down in 10th and a expected fast late lap never came, eliminating him from taking part in Superpole 3.

John Hopkins, meanwhile, pulled out of the race after this morning's practice with the Fixi Crescent Suzuki team issuing a press release stating that the Californian is still struggling with his hip injury. Hopkins ended the morning session early and after discussing the situation with the team opted to abandon his plans of racing, according to the team.

The Fixi Crescent team also announced this morning that Hopkins' teammate Leon Camier had signed a new contract to remain with the team. Camier just missed out on making the final cut to Superpole 1 and he will start the race from the third row. Biaggi, BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet's Michel Fabrizio and Team Pedercini's Claudio Corti will join him on the third row.

Final Qualifying
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:36.950
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:37.422
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:37.516
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:37.658
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:37.901
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:38.252
7. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:38.280
8. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:38.425
9. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:38.072
10. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:39.095

By Cycle News Staff

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