WSBK: Sykes secures 22nd pole position start at hilly Portimao

Reigning World Champion Tom Sykes will start tomorrow’s World Superbike race from pole position in Portugal, heading an all-British front row.

Sykes continues his 2014 domination…

Photo: KRT

Marco Melandri topped the timing sheets on the opening day for Aprilia Racing Team, but it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea who ended FP3 on top on Saturday morning as 0.3s covered the top ten riders. Sykes began the afternoon’s qualifying as he meant to go on and set the fastest time of the fourth free practise session of the weekend, just 0.091s ahead of compatriot Eugene Laverty.

After an interrupted Superpole one session which saw Claudio Corti suffer a big crash between turns 8 and 9 which saw the session be red flagged as his MV Augusta was left on the track, after being taken to hospital for tests the Spaniard hopes to be declared fit for the races tomorrow. Both David Salom and Sylvain Barrier comfortably made it through into SP2, sitting half a second ahead of the rest of the field on their EVO machines.

Sykes’ third pole of the year didn’t come easy to the Kawasaki Racing Team rider as team-mate Loris Baz and championship contenders Sylvain Guintloli and Rea sat in provisional pole during the 15 minute session.

However the Yorkshire rider was able to hold off any challenges to take pole position in the closing minutes of Superpole 2 with a lap time of 1.42.484 and feels comfortable ahead of the races tomorrow:“On the race tyre I was able to feel more comfortable and in Superpole, with the qualifying tyre, I just made it to the apexes a little bit easier. The circuit is missing a little bit of grip and of course the high winds are not helping, especially on the final section, but it is costing everybody some time. I am happy, especially after the changes we made today. I feel more comfortable and confident for the races tomorrow but I expect two difficult races. There are a lot of riders who are capable of running at the front but we will do the best we can.”

Jonathan Rea was just 0.281s shy of securing pole position: “It was really windy for qualifying this afternoon and we made quite a big change to the set-up on the rear of the bike for Superpole after we’d compared data with Leon. We’ve gone back to basics, to something we know, and it’s good to come to Portimao where we have a lot of data. I’m really excited about tomorrow’s races. We’ve done a lot of laps on old tyres so we’ll have to wait and see if all that hard work will pay off.”

Finally, Chaz Davies rounds out the front row for the Ducati Superbike team, setting a lap time of 1.42.924:“On the first lap with the qualifier, I made a little mistake here and there and got caught out a bit by the wind, but then I was able to do a solid second lap, which I hoped would be good enough for a second row start. It actually puts me on the front row so I’m really pleased with that. It’s meant to be a little cooler tomorrow which might help and then I just need to get off the line well and see what I can do.”

After a strong start to the weekend, Marco Melandri heads the second row with Baz sitting in fifth and Guintoli in sixth. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty secured a spot on the front of the third row, as his team-mate Alex Lowes starts from 11th following a crash in SP2.

For a full list of times click here. 

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