Sykes clinches crucial Superpole advantage, Guintoli fifth

World Superbike Championship leader Tom Sykes shrugged off a morning crash to produce a perfectly timed pole position lap at Magny-Cours in France.

Sykes put in a customary late flyer for his fifth pole of the year
Photo: KRT Kawasaki
Sykes dusted himself down after a slow speed get-off in the lunchtime FP4 session, which brought out the red flags, to shatter his existing circuit record by six tenths of a second.

True to form, Sykes kept his best for last, lapping two tenths faster than Davide Giugliano in second and Jonathan Rea in third place to claim his fifth pole position of the season.

Giugliano finished the session frustrated, believing he had the pace to claim the number one spot. The Italian was on course to snatch pole away from Sykes through the opening three sectors but lost critical time in the fourth.

Rea was delighted with his first front row start since Portimao at the start of July. The Northern Irishman made a mistake on his first flying lap by out-braking himself at the first corner, before posting the third fastest time, 0.54s down on Sykes’ mark.

Crucially for the championship, Sylvain Guintoli will start from fifth position and the second row, having felt less than comfortable on his qualifying tyre. Guintoli trails Sykes by 31 points in the overall standings and is aware that finishing ahead of the number one Kawasaki in both races is imperative to his championship aspirations.

Guintoli was a place behind Chaz Davies and one ahead of team-mate Marco Melandri, who should provide strong challenges from the second row.

Fresh from announcing his move to the MotoGP class in 2015 with Forward Racing, Loris Baz struggled to seventh in front of his home fans. Baz was forced to qualify for SP2 through the fifteen minute SP1 session that precedes it, having placed outside the top ten in the free practice timesheets. The Voltcom Crescent Suzukis of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty start from eighth and ninth.

Full qualifying results can be seen here.
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