Tom Sykes will start from the very front of a World Superbike race for the third time in his career after his excellent lap time during Q2 was rewarded with an automatic pole position.
The British rider was in excellent form aboard the seemingly much improved Kawasaki ZX-10R, this year being prepared by the Spanish-based Provec team, as he lapped in a 1min 31.323secs during Q2, handing him the initiative heading into the grid-deciding Superpole session.
However, the subsequent tragedy to befall the preceding Australian Superstock 600 race, during which local rider Oscar McIntyre was killed, prompted Superpole to be cancelled and Q2 results counted towards grid positions.
As such, Sykes will start the opening round of the 2012 season from his third career pole position, though unlike Imola 2010 and Misano 2011, this is the first time he has achieved the feat in the dry.
Though pleased to have started the season in a convincing way, Sykes's says his happiness at securing pole position is tinged with obvious sadness.
“Pole position has come with mixed emotions because of some very bad news and first and foremost I want to pass on my condolences to the family and friends of Oscar McIntyre. It seems unimportant in many ways now but as far as our on-track weekend has worked out yesterday we just made sure things were right with the bike and pushed a bit more in this morning's cooler qualifying session.
“My pole lap was not a clean one but we still set the fastest time, which shows a good level of progress. Phillip Island has not been a great track for me in the past but Kawasaki has put in a huge amount of work during the winter on the Ninja ZX-10R. We will see what tomorrow brings but I want to get two good races under my belt before I head back to Europe.”