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Battle-lines drawn as Sykes signals intent
6 October 2012
Tom Sykes says a ninth pole position of the season and another lap record gives him extra motivation to fight for the wins he needs to close the gap to Max Biaggi in the fight for the World Superbike Championship.
The Kawasaki rider has been in magnificent form over a single lap this season culminating in him securing a remarkable nine pole positions in just 14 attempts, the third highest number achieved in a single year behind Ben Spies (11 in 2009) and Doug Polen (10 in 1991).
Indeed, Sykes was in particularly dominant form at Magny-Cours as he rounded the circuit in a new best of 1min 36.950secs, a full half second quicker than the existing lap record. It means, of the 14 circuits on the WSBK calendar, Sykes is now the lap record holder at six of them – more than any other rider.
This ninth pole position could well turn out to be the most important of the 11 he has achieved in his career to date as he looks to up the pressure on champion-elect Biaggi.
Though Biaggi needs just a pair of sixth place finishes to win the 2012 title, regardless of where Sykes finishes, the Aprilia man has given himself a task from tenth on the grid, whereas his rival is well placed at the front of the grid.
Nonetheless, Sykes, who is racing in a distinctive '17' adorned helmet in honour of former team-mate Joan Lascorz this weekend, is merely pleased to have now proven a force at every round this year having qualified off the front row just once (at Silverstone).
“It is nice to get another circuit record and it is something a little bit personal for me. The challenge is good and I have a great team and manufacturer behind me who will help me achieve these goals, so I am very happy.
“I am starting the last race of 2012 from pole position so that is another little something that keeps me motivated, especially for my main rival on the third row. I am just happy that my team and Kawasaki have given me a good package to use once again.”
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