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WSBK Assen: Lucky 13 for pole man Sykes
27 April 2013 CLICK HERE
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Tom Sykes has notched up his 13th career World Superbike Championship pole position with another imperious performance in Superpole at Assen.
A hot favourite to continue a Superpole streak that had seen him start 10 of the last 15 races from the front of the grid, Sykes made it another successful Saturday as he brushed aside his opposition in both knockout phases before going quicker still in the grid-deciding SP3.
Indeed, though his lap time of 1min 35.043secs was not quite good enough to surpass Jonathan Rea's lap record from 2010, Sykes was still a clear six tenths of a second faster than his nearest rival.
That nearest rival would turn out to be Rea, the Ulsterman showing fine form at Assen once again to qualify in second position as he looks to make it four wins in four consecutive years at Ten Kate Racing's home circuit.
His late advance would see him demote Eugene Laverty to third position and series leader Sylvain Guintoli back onto the second row, the Aprilia riders barely separable on the timesheets.
Guintoli will be joined by a delighted Loris Baz and Davide Giugliano on the second row, two of the series' less experienced riders showing well to get into the top six and out-qualify several better fancied riders.
That included Marco Melandri, who barely featured towards the front at any stage in Superpole on what has been a fairly anonymous weekend for the BMW rider thus far.
That said, the Italian fared far better than team-mate Chaz Davies, whose hopes of replicating his double Aragon wins were dealt a huge blow when he was eliminated in SP1. Hoping his opening gambit was enough to see him safely into SP2, Davies could only watch in disappointment from the pit lane as late improvements for Jules Cluzel and Max Neukirchner dumped him to 13th on the grid.
Elsewhere, Alstare Ducati's Carlos Checa showed well in the knockout phases, but could only manage eighth fastest in SP3 when it mattered, while Michel Fabrizio joins him on row three, ahead of Cluzel, Ayrton Badovini, Neukirchner and the hapless Davies.