Tom Sykes has consolidated his exceptional World Superbike qualifying record so far this season by making it three pole positions out of three at Assen.

Having started from the front of the field at Phillip Island and Imola, Sykes showed his hand with a tremendous opening effort during the final qualifying segment, before slashing that again by more than a second later in the session.

An incredible effort by both Sykes and Kawasaki on their first weekend without its second rider Joan Lascorz, the Briton duly dedicated the result to his team-mate, who is currently recovering from horrific injuries sustained in an accident at Imola just over two weeks ago.

With his rivals unable to get close to his superb benchmark, Jonathan Rea had to contend with second position, albeit a mammoth 1.1secs behind his in-form countryman. Even so, the result still marks his and Honda's first front row grid slot of the season.

Having looked amongst the favourites for pole position in the sessions leading up to Superpole, Effenbert Liberty Ducati pairing Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli had to make do with third and fourth, the duo nonetheless getting the satisfaction of out-qualifying 1098R counterpart and series leader Carlos Checa.

Indeed, Checa was unable to match the pace of his Czech stablemates, the reigning champion emerging 1.8secs behind pole sitter Sykes, even if he will still start directly behind the Kawasaki rider come race day.

Joining him on the second row will be Michel Fabrizio, who set the BMW pace in an encouraging sixth place, Leon Haslam on the factory S1000RR and John Hopkins, the American enjoying a fine upturn in form during Superpole, even if the American couldn't match his run to the second best time after SP1 when it mattered in SP2.

Indeed, mixed conditions defined the opening minutes of Superpole, which was initially declared as a wet session. As such, a new format of two 20 minute segments was enforced, with positions 9-16 determined after the first segment.

As such, most of the fast laps came during the final seconds as riders battled it out for the top eight spots, a flurry of activity that would see Marco Melandri eliminated in ninth position, the Italian starting ahead of David Salom, who notched up a rare top ten start for Pedercini Kawasaki.

British riders Chaz Davies and Leon Camier line up in 11th and 12th, the latter doing well to get on track aboard a hastily constructed Suzuki having destroyed his original bike in an FP2 crash, while Brett McCormick starts 13th having at one stage looked fast enough to make SP2.

With Max Biaggi a notable absentee from Superpole after failing to make it into the top sixteen during the rain affected provisional sessions, Eugene Laverty assumed responsibility for Aprilia's effort, but could only manage 14th when a crash five minutes from the chequered flag left him on the sidelines.

Even so, he fared better than Maxime Berger and Ayrton Badovini, who left their respective Effenbert Liberty Ducati and BMW Italia teams with work to do after the latter crashed at turn one directly in front of Berger, giving the Frenchman no option but to be collected by the spiralling S1000RR. Despite the severity of the accident, both riders walked away.


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