If you want to earn pole position for a World Superbike race, you have to go through Tom Sykes first. No one was able to do that today as the Brit and his Kawasaki ZX-10R stormed to their eighth Superpole win of the season to put the combo on pole position for tomorrow's two races at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal.
Sykes ended Superpole 1 in second behind Chaz Davies, but took over in Superpole 2 and continued to apply the pressure before earning his 10th pole in Superpole 3 with a best lap of 1:41.415 - a new lap record - on the undulating 2.84-mile circuit. Sykes is currently fighting to get himself in the championship hunt and he trails Max Biaggi by 26.5 points going into tomorrow's races.
Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa took at turn at the top of Superpole 2 before being knocked back by Sykes and the Spaniard ended up staying second with his 1:41.70 in the final 10-minute session. The defending World Champion is .365 of a second off Sykes' best.
Eugene Laverty was another rider who was consistently near the top throughout practice and qualifying and he was there again today, the Irishman and his factory Aprilia ending the day third and one of the three riders able to crack into the 1:41s. The front row will be filled by championship hopeful Marco Melandri, with the Italian set to starts tomorrow's pair of races 9.5 points behind Max Biaggi.
Biaggi, meanwhile, will head the second row of the grid after leading this morning's final qualifying session. Biaggi took some seven-tenths off his best qualifying time, but it wasn't enough to get him on the front row.
He will be joined on row two by BMW's Leon Haslam, Honda's Jonathan Rea and Davies, the Welshman failing to match the pace he set in Superpole 1 when it came down to Superpole 3.
Fixi Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier and Althea Racing's Davide Giugliano rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.
Canadian Brett McCormick qualified for his first-ever Superpole and ended up 13th.
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:41.415
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:41.780
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:41.789
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:42.015
5. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:42.800
6. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:42.278
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:42.717
8. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:43.459
9. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:42.767
10. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:42.799