|Sykes will start from the second row tomorrow
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes has qualified in 4th for tomorrow’s races in Phillip Island, with team mate Loris Baz not far behind in 11th place. The new Superpole and grid format means that Sykes will start Sunday’s races from the second row of the grid, whilst Baz will be in the middle of the fourth row.
Both riders have been regaining confidence after both had big accidents on day one of the Phillip Island test, last week. Sykes suffered a fractured left wrist, leaving him with a little discomfort, but still managed to stay near the top of the leader boards in testing and free practice/qualifying sessions alike.
After being punted off the front row by Michel Fabrizio, Sykes had a chance at regaining his place on a race tyre, but as time was quickly running out, decided ‘not to risk it’. Sykes said: “The new look Superpole rules have not suited us because we could have had a nice front row start. We are on row two but obviously we have done a good job to get so close, so fast, after having been forced to skip two days testing and then riding injured. I learned last year that qualifying is qualifying and racing I another story, so I am a decent spot for tomorrow’s races. It will be two long races, in hot conditions from what I have heard, so let’s see. We have a bit of thinking to do tonight to decide in exactly which direction we will go but I do not feel we are in a bad situation at all. Let us see how tomorrow goes.”
His team mate, Loris Baz has made steady but good progress over the past week. He, like many other riders on the grid has been recovering his confidence after his testing incident. The Frenchman improved throughout both qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, going from 15th in Q1, to 12th in Q2. He ended Superpole in 11th, narrowly missing out on Superpole 3, stating “a sudden drop in grip” in the final sector prevented him from creeping further up the leader board. Despite this, Baz seems very content with the progress he has made over the weekend. “This was one of our best weekends of work in practice and qualifying and it had been going well until the last corners when I had a qualifying tyre in Superpole 2. The second qualifier we had did not work as well as the first one we used and by the time I got to the last corners it had given its best, so I could not improve my time to go into the final part of Superpole. We are good for the race I think, we have done a lot of work and think we are in good shape for the race, which is the main thing. My best lap in Superpole 2 was actually done on a race tyre so I am happy about that.”