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Tom Sykes will start the second round of the 2013 World Superbike Championship at Motorland Aragon from pole position after notching up another lap record in a fast-paced Superpole.
A session billed as a head-to-head between Sykes and Eugene Laverty, who had set the fastest lap of the weekend in the Superpole-preceding FP2 session, both riders would progress into the SP3 phase of qualifying having topped SP1 and SP2 respectively.
However, while Laverty had seemingly established himself as the favourite for his first WSBK pole position with a superb time of 1min 56.631secs in SP2, Sykes would proceed to find another level in the decisive SP3 stage with a lap record-breaking time of 1min 56.339secs.
A return to form for Sykes, who has now amassed 12 WSBK pole positions with Kawasaki, he will head up a front row of Laverty and the impressive Chaz Davies, who will be making his first appearance from the head of the WSBK grid.
Indeed, it was an impressive performance by Davies in his second race for BMW, the Welshman the only other rider to break into the 1min 56secs bracket. He could have potentially snared second too after crossing the finish line with less than a second before the chequered flag was deployed, but while he was set for a personal best time mid-way around the lap, an error would ultimately deny him an improvement.
Though overshadowed by his Aprilia team-mate, Sylvain Guintoli remains well placed at the head of an all French front row, the relative veteran leading the very impressive Jules Cluzel – flying the flag for Suzuki following Leon Camier's withdrawal – and Loris Baz on the second of the factory Kawasakis.
They were fast enough to out-perform Davide Giugliano on the Althea Aprilia and Marco Melandri, the Italian – a two-time winner at Motorland Aragon – struggling relative to his new BMW team-mate. Similarly, Jonathan Rea will start on the third row after failing to get the best from his Pata Honda in the SP3 session.
Even so, he fared better than team-mate Leon Haslam, who will start 11th for his second race on the CBR1000RR, just behind local favourite Carlos Checa, whose evident straight-line disadvantage on the Alstare Ducati relative to Melandri made the difference in his failure to make the final nine at the end of SP2.
Max Neukirchner rounds out row four alongside Haslam in 12th, with Ayrton Badovini, Michel Fabrizio
and Alexander Lundh completing the top fifteen qualifying positions.