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Sykes on the limit for Portimao pole
22 September 2012 CLICK HERE
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Tom Sykes has given his World Superbike Championship title hopes a boost with a scintillating run to his eighth pole position of the season at Portimao.
Yet again demonstrating his remarkable pace over a single lap aboard the Kawasaki, Sykes was in fine form as he tackled the undulating Portuguese circuit, his effort of 1min 41.415secs coming despite the occasional lurid moment as he fought to shave precious hundredths from his lap time.
As it happens, Sykes would not only slice three tenths off Jonathan Rea's lap record, he would command a similar margin over the opposition as they contested the remaining front row positions.
However, while Sykes may be in prime position to reduce the 26.5 point deficit to Max Biaggi in the overall standings, both Biaggi and Marco Melandri remain well poised in fourth and fifth places.
Melandri might have fancied his chances of challenging Sykes's pole position had he ventured onto track for his final lap just ten seconds earlier, the Italian running out of time make one last attempt.
Nonetheless, he at least had the satisfaction of out-qualifying Biaggi, though he will have Carlos Checa and Eugene Laverty for company on the front row too.
Leon Haslam, Rea and Nurburgring race winner Chaz Davies complete the second row, the latter cracking the top eight for only the second time this year after two mighty efforts in SP1 and SP2 earned him a spot with the front runners.
Davies's late improvement came at the expense of Leon Camier, who was bumped down to ninth position to share row three with Davide Giugliano, Sylvain Guintoli and Loris Baz.
Elsewhere, Brett McCormick consolidated his first Superpole appearance with a fine run to 13th, the Canadian just 0.002secs shy of reaching SP2 on his first attempt. Even so, the Effenbert Liberty rider was still able to out-qualify the more experienced Ayrton Badovini, Michel Fabrizio and David Salom.