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Sykes shrugs off stoppage for 17th pole

29 June 2013

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Tom Sykes has won his sixth consecutive World Superpole pole position of the season, despite being forced to produce two record-breaking laps at Imola.

Once again the rider to beat over a single lap, Sykes dominated all three Superpole phases, but an unfortunately timed red flag just as he rounded the final corner on a record-breaking lap would force him to do it all over again.

Coming into SP3 having already broken his own lap record during SP2, it was a marker that looked set to last all but a few minutes as Sykes blasted out of the blocks during the critical grid-deciding session.

However, despite stopping the clock at 1min 56.285secs his lap time would ultimately be disallowed due to the red flag being deployed just as he was completing his lap.

The stoppage itself had been prompted by Sykes's team-mate Loris Baz suffering a spectacular accident on the run to Rivazza, one that would see his Kawasaki barrelling across the gravel trap before coming to rest on the apex of the corner, depositing fluid. Necessitating a clean-up operation, despite the severity of the crash, which destroyed the ZX-10R, Baz would walk away unharmed.

With Sykes, along with Eugene Laverty, now listed with no time, the 2012 WSBK runner-up would be made to do it all again.

Nonetheless, not only would Sykes replicate his form second time around, he would go even faster, obliterating the original lap record by eight tenths of a second with the first-ever lap to go beneath 1min 46secs.

His 17th career WSBK pole position, Sykes now moves past Neil Hodgson on the all-time list to join Doug Polen in fourth position.

Unsurprisingly, no other rider could get close to that with Jonathan Rea falling six tenths shy of his countryman. That said, second on the grid marks one of Rea's best qualifying performances of the season on a weekend where the Pata Honda has proven particularly competitive.

Joining them on the front row of the grid will be local favourite Davide Giugliano, who upstaged his factory Aprilia counterparts to claim third position aboard the Althea-prepared machine.

Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli will get underway from fourth on the grid, alongside his Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty, the Irishman unable to keep his run of front row starts going around his team's home venue.

Another rider caught out by the red flag, Leon Camier will nonetheless start a fine sixth place on the Fixi Crescent Suzuki having shown top three potential during the knockout phases.

Recovering from a crash during the Superpole-preceding Q2 session, Marco Melandri starts in seventh position, ahead of Ayrton Badovini, the Italian displaying impressive speed on the Alstare Ducati to reach SP3 for the first time this season. Baz, who didn't set a time before his crash, will start ninth.

Missing the SP3 cut, Chaz Davies's disappointing run of form continues as he was bumped down in tenth position, the Welshman sharing row four with Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio.

Behind them, Carlos Checa – winner of five of the last six races to be held at Imola – starts 13th after suffering a costly fall during SP1, the Spaniard nonetheless doing enough with his one and only lap to out-qualify Jules Cluzel and Max Neukirchner, who also fell.


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