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Sykes takes seventh pole at eventful Brno

21 July 2012

Tom Sykes claimed a superb seventh pole of the 2012 eni World Superbike season at Brno on Saturday, during a Superpole qualifying that saw S2 stopped and title leader Max Biaggi eliminated in S1.

Kawasaki's Sykes will be joined on the front row for Sunday's ninth round by Carlos Checa, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano, who had halted the second session.

Aprilia star Biaggi, eighth after combined qualifying, had opted not to run a qualifying tyre in Superpole 1 - which backfired when the likes of Chaz Davies and Eugene Laverty chose to fit the softer rubber late-on to ensure they advanced through to the second stage.

It worked for them but Biaggi - who ran out of time to respond - paid the price, missing the S2 cut after being pushed down to 14th, less than 0.1s from twelfth. To put the error in context, Biaggi - who has an incredible record at Brno - was only 0.616s slower than S1 leader Marco Melandri.

Superpole 2 then saw further drama when Giugliano's Ducati began fizzing fluids early on - causing a hefty fall for BMW Italia's Ayrton Badovini, before Giugliano himself lowsided.

Jakub Smrz and David Salom also fell on the fluid, which caused the session to be red-flagged for over an hour while the surface was cleaned.

Badovini and Salom were unable to get their machines repaired, but Giugliano and Smrz were ready for the restart, which was preceded by a five minute 'warm-up' to allow riders to try the track.

But Superpole took yet another twist when rain spots began falling at the end of the warm-up, leaving riders looking at the skies and prompting the announcement of wet Superpole procedure.

That meant an 'all-in' 20-minute final Superpole period for the remaining twelve riders, rather than two further dry sessions, but slick tyres remained the only realistic choice.

Sykes made perfect use of his qualifying tyres to claim pole with a record-breaking lap of 1m 58.010, beating Cal Crutchlow's 2010 pole time by just 0.008s.

But Englishman Sykes was a confident 0.460s clear of Althea Ducati's reigning champion Checa, with Laverty salvaging Aprilia honour in third (+0731s).

Giugliano provided a last-gasp surprise when he used Melandri, just ahead of him, as a marker to pinch the final front row start from his fellow Italian by 0.096s.

Joining Melandri on row two will be Honda's Jonathan Rea (+1.550s), Melandri's B
Row three will be headed by ParkinGO Aprilia's Chaz Davies (+1.738s) with Smrz eighth and the last of the riders to turn a lap in the final session. The unlucky Badovini and Salom will line-up eleventh and twelfth.

Fixi Crescent Suzuki team-mates Leon Camier (13th) and John Hopkins (16th), plus Kawasaki's Loris Baz (15th) joined Biaggi in going no further than Superpole 1 and will thus form row four of Sunday's grid.

Biaggi holds a 48-point lead over Melandri heading into round 9 of 14.


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