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WSBK Monza: Sykes speeds to Monza pole
11 May 2013 CLICK HERE
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Tom Sykes has reeled off his third World Superbike pole position of the season with another lap record-breaking performance at Monza.
The Kawasaki rider, a race winner at Monza last season, went into the final phase of qualifying expecting to go head-to-head with Aprilia rivals Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, but while Laverty would lay down the gauntlet by smashing the lap record first, Sykes would simply go faster just seconds later.
Destroying Max Biaggi's previous best of 1min 41.745secs from 2011, Sykes would slice half a second off that with a 1min 41.223secs lap, just over a tenth quicker than Laverty.
Notably, Sykes's lap was achieved despite recording a top speed of 'only' 325.8kph, which made him slowest of the nine riders in SP3 and more than 11kp/h down on Eugene Laverty.
Indeed, despite having the distinction of reaching a remarkable top speed of 337.1kph, second place marks another qualifying frustration for Laverty, who has now secured 16 front row starts in 30 attempts without having ever claimed a pole position.
After botching his opening lap during the third and final qualifying phase, championship leader Guintoli recovered to third place with his final lap, the Frenchman also going underneath Biaggi's previous marker in the process.
His effort was enough to displace Jonathan Rea, who raised some cheers for Pata Honda after seeing team-mate Kosuke Akiyoshi crash heavily in the Superpole preceding FP2 session.
Having come into Superpole with the fastest time in Q2, Marco Melandri endured a fraught Superpole session as problems with the BMW GoldBet S1000RR consigned him to the pit lane for much of SP1. Eventually making it out onto track, Melandri would go on to qualify fifth, with countryman Davide Giugliano completing the second row.
Heading up row three, Jules Cluzel came into SP3 having gone a surprise second fastest in SP2 but could only manage seventh when it mattered, the Frenchman just ahead of Fixi Crescent Suzuki team-mate Leon Camier, while title contender Chaz Davies ended up ninth after running off track on his first flying lap.
Behind them, Michel Fabrizio just missed out on SP3 at his home circuit with tenth on the grid, ahead of a disappointed Loris Baz, who had to make do with 11th despite some aggressive efforts to snare a slipstream from his rivals.
Ayrton Badovini completes row four aboard the sole remaining Alstare Ducati, with Max Neukirchner, Fabrizio Lai and Federico Sandi holding down 13th, 14th and 15th respectively.