Photography by Gold & Goose
MAGNY-COURS, France (Oct. 5, 2013) -- Tom Sykes dominated Superpole qualifying Saturday at Magny-Cours en route to earning his eight pole of the season aboard his factory Kawasaki ZX-10R. Sykes navigated tricky conditions on a drying track to continue his consistent top qualifying form. It marked his 19th-career pole. On his fastest lap rain flags came back out and Sykes had to negotiate a group of slower riders and ran up on wet curbing in in the process, but somehow made it through cleanly.
Due to the weather Superpole was reduced to two sessions from the normal three. Leon Haslam and Michele Pirro both crashed in SP1 in the same section of the track. Neither rider made it through to the final SP 2 session.
Teams switched from rains to slicks for the final 20-minute SP2 as the sun peeked out between gray clouds for the first time.
Sykes, with a 1:42.385 on his Kawasaki, went to the top of the charts early in the session. Times were sure to fall as the track continued to dry. Sure enough Laverty did a 1:41.682 on his Aprilia about a minute after Sykes set his time.
Mr. Pole Sykes struck back once his green machine was shod qualifiers. He blitzed Magny-Cours and tripped the timing wires at 1:39.571 with a little over seven minutes remaining in the session. Then with less than two minutes to go, slicing through slower traffic, Sykes clocked a stunning 1:38.592.
Sykes jokingly implied that Frenchman and series rival Sylvain Guintoli might have recruited his countryman Vincent Philippe to hold him up in qualifying.
“It was an eventful lap,” Sykes said. “I enjoyed it. We’ve had some difficulties today with the wet and we’ve slowly, but surely improved the ZX-10R. When the circuit comes more towards the dry then we really start to have some good fun. On the last lap I was very surprised; it was three riders out to pass in two corners, so not ideal. One of the guys, umm, new to the championship, a French rider, so maybe Sylvain’s been having a few words here and there, he left it quite tight for me so that was interesting, but it doesn’t matter. We did enough and overall we were able to start in a good position for tomorrow, which is the main thing.”
On the final lap Sylvain Guintoli, cheered on by the French fans, dug deep and pushed his factory Aprilia to second on the grid with a time of 1:39.397. Davide Giugliano rounded out the front-row starters (1:39.933) on the Althea Racing Aprilia.
Guintoli had a major moment late in Superpole where he got flicked over the top of the bike, breaking the Aprilia’s windscreen.
“The conditions were difficult this afternoon, with a lot of wet patches,” Guintoli said. “On this track it’s actually very difficult to see where it’s dry and where it’s wet. It was very tricky, but good qualifying on the front row is most important. In the end I had a big moment and broke the screen with my head and lost a bit of time. I hope we have dry races tomorrow.”
Sunday’s races can be viewed in the US on BeIn Sports.
Magny-Cours - FIM Superbike World Championship - Superpole 2 (Wet)
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'38.592
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'39.397
3. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'39.933
4. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'40.410
5. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'40.864
6. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1'40.926
7. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'41.361
8. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'41.375
9. Vincent Philippe (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'47.691
10. Michele Pirro (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1'47.871
11. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'47.886
12. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'48.221
13. David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.916
14. Lorenzo Lanzi (Mesaroli Transports A.S.) Ducati 1098R 1'50.257
15. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'51.796
16. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'41.137
17. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'41.281
18. Fabrizio Lai (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale 1'42.474
19. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'43.180