PORTIMAO, Portugal – Under the grey skies of the Autodromo International do Algarve, Tom Sykes managed to claim his fifth-straight eni FIM Superbike World Championship Tissot-Superpole of the season.
An incredibly close battle for the top slot on the grid saw Sykes scoring his 16th career pole position by just a thousand of a second on Eugene Laverty.
The same gap between the top-two riders in Superpole happened only once before, in 2009 Ben Spies snatched pole from Michel Fabrizio at Kyalami. The 1:41.360 set by the British rider means also a new best lap for the Portuguese track.
Today’s Superpole was partly influenced by the weather, as drops of rain began to fall moments before the start of Superpole 2. As per the 2013 WSBK Sporting Regulations, a final 20-minute wet session took place with all 12 riders involved. The conditions quickly improved, though, meaning the riders could fight for the top positions on the grid on dry track.
Jonathan Rea completes the first row of the grid for tomorrow’s two races, matching his previous good performances from qualifying. 4th place Marco Melandri finished ahead of Sylvain Guintoli, Loris Baz and an improving Carlos Checa, able to put up a good lap onboard his 1199 Panigale R despite his left shoulder injury.
Frenchman Jules Cluzel was eighth at the flag followed by the Italian trio of Michel Fabrizio, Ayrton Badovini and Davide Giugliano. The 2011 STK1000 Champion had an innocent crash at turn eight during the last Superpole session.