Tom Sykes may be starting off pole position for the first time this season at Monza, but the Briton still had reason to celebrate after riding 339.5km/h into the World Superbike record books.
The Kawasaki rider went into qualifying eyeing his fourth consecutive Superpole having set the pace at Phillip Island, Imola and Assen, but while he once more proved very competitive in the slippery conditions around the high-speed Monza circuit, he would ultimately be denied by Sylvain Guintoli.
Nonetheless, Sykes still starts from second position on the grid, while he can also call himself a record breaker after his ZX-10R – and a tow from Max Biaggi's Aprilia – hauled him to a remarkable top speed of 339.5km/h during FP2.
Topping out at more than 210mph and proving almost 5km/h than the previous marker, the bewildering figure is comfortably the highest speed ever recorded by in Superbike racing. Indeed, despite missing out on a fourth straight pole position, the record is one that Sykes was naturally thrilled with.
“When I hit the new record top speed I could feel that the rpm was higher and I knew from the note of the engine that it was more than on previous laps,” he said. “I could not have timed my run to get into Biaggi's slipstream any better. I had a fantastic run out of Parabolica and I used Max's draft all the way down the straight.
“If we had more time we could have come back in and gone with a slick rear or intermediate rear and made the difference, but it wasn't to be. We did a great last lap on wet tyres and starting from second on the grid is not too bad. It is a front row start and that is the main thing. The competitive side of me for sure is disappointed not to keep the run of Superpole wins going but tomorrow is the one that counts.
“It's great for Kawasaki and myself to be on the front row and it is a lot better starting slot for tomorrow. We have good pace in the dry and I do not think the wet will be an issue either. A dry race would be better for everybody.”
New team-mate Sergio Gadea, meanwhile, continued his tough World Superbike initiation, the Spaniard's task made more difficult by the evolving track conditions.
”I am happy because the bike is good but it is my first time in Monza, first time on a Superbike and obviously the weather has made it more complicated for me. But it is a nice experience and I enjoy riding the bike so much. I hope tomorrow to improve my performance and also enjoy the races. Thanks to Kawasaki and the team for giving me this opportunity.”