Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes has stormed to his 43rd career pole position in world superbike competition at Phillip Island this afternoon.
The 32-year-old from Huddersfield set a best lap of 1m30.090s around the 4.45km grand prix circuit in the 15-minute Superpole qualifying, slotting himself at the sharp end of the grid when the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike Championship gets underway with race one at 3:00pm this afternoon.
Sykes now equals the record number of pole positions set by Aussie two-time WorldSBK champion Troy Corser.
Sykes will be joined on the front row of the grid for race one by Eugene Laverty (Aprilia, 1:30.339) and Marco Melandri (Ducati, 1:30.660).
“This pole position means a lot because everybody knows how good Troy (Corser) was,” said Sykes.
“My ZX-10RR has been feeling really sweet throughout all of the testing and doing what it has been told to do. I’m feeling really confident and looking forward to the racing.”
Meanwhile, it was a tough Superpole for reigning world champion and last year’s polesitter Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki, 1:31.056), who ended the session in sixth position. Rea will line up on row two alongside Alex Lowes (Yamaha, 1:30.767) and lap record holder Chaz Davies (Ducati, 1:31.009).
Lowes was one of four riders to crash in the rough and tumble session, but he was able to return to the pits and then get back out on track. Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia), Jordi Torres (MV Agusta) and Leon Camier (Honda) weren’t so fortunate. Savadori has been ruled out of this afternoon’s race after breaking his collarbone in what was a scary tumble for the Italian.
Row three will be filled by Xavi Fores (Ducati, 1:31.080), Michael van der Mark (Yamaha, 1:31.240) and Turkey’s Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki, 1:31.581).
Australia’s Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha, 1:32.193) qualified 16th but will start from the fifth row on the grid due to Savadori not taking any place in this afternoon’s proceedings.
Troy Herfoss (Honda, 1:32.640) is on row six while Daniel Falzon (Yamaha, 1:33.126) will start from row seven.
Twenty-two riders will line up in race one.
Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) came out on top in a tense world supersport (WorldSSP) Superpole qualifying session at Phillip Island this afternoon, and will lead the field away in tomorrow’s 18-lap race.
Mahias got the job done by 0.4 seconds over teammate Federico Caricasulo, while Aussie Anthony West (Kawasaki) was a big part of the action before eventually stopping the clock in fifth position.
That guarantees the Queenslander a second row start tomorrow, between German Sandro Cortese (Yamaha) and Briton Luke Stapleford (Triumph).
West finished third in the 2017 WorldSSP at Phillip Island, right on the tail of Mahias.
Meanwhile, four-time world champion Kenan Sofuoglu) (Kawasaki) gritted his teeth in Superpole after a big crash at turn three in final practice, and was rewarded with the final spot on the front row.
Sofuoglu and Randy Krummenacher (Yamaha), who qualified in seventh, are the only two riders in this weekend’s field who have won WorldSSP races at Phillip Island.
Australia’s remaining participants, Kawasaki-riding pair Tom Toparis and Lachlan Epis, will start from row six and eight respectively.
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