Tom Sykes believes a front row start for Kawasaki at Imola is as good an achievement as the two pole positions he currently has to his name, pointing out that this was achieved in optimum dry conditions.

Sykes has put in a series of headline-grabbing performances for Kawasaki over the past twelve months, not least last time out at the Nurburgring when he claimed a stunning victory, but the man himself points out that wet conditions are ' a great leveller'.

With this in mind, Sykes has hailed Kawasaki's consistently strong pace throughout the Imola weekend as 'another step forward', claiming that fourth on the grid - just three tenths off pole position - shows the package is still improving in the right direction.

"We had some success in Germany with a win at the last round but wet conditions are a great levelling factor, and I had a good package to work with as well," he said. "The test we did at Misano recently was also good in the dry. We confirmed some geometry and chassis settings there that we had been trying out and I was considerably faster than the race at Misano this year.

"We kept those settings on the bike and came here with minimal changes, and it all shows that we are getting there now. The 1'47.799 I did to lead combined qualifying this morning I was happy with, as it was done on a relatively hard race tyre.

"We are not in a bad situation. After Superpole Two I was quite confident to get pole position but I think we had reached our limit. A front row place in dry conditions is another step forward for all of us in the team. We also got away with using a race tyre in Superpole One so that was a refreshing change."