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Championship leader Tom Sykes has secured his eighth World Superbike pole position of the season at Magny-Cours after producing an extraordinary flying lap in tricky conditions to dominate proceedings.

A weekend already hampered by changeable weather, another short shower at the start of Superpole would see organisers declare it as a wet session, but while the circuit would steadily improve over course of the two 20mins phases, conditions were never anything less than slippery at their best.

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Nonetheless, despite drops of rain in the final minutes of SP2, Sykes would go on to show full commitment on his flying lap to defy both white flags and traffic to stop the clock at 1min 38.592secs.

Though almost two seconds down on his own circuit record, Sykes was still almost a second faster than his nearest rival Sylvain Guintoli, the home hope cheered on by the crowd as he lifted himself to second place in the closing stages.

A mixed afternoon for the four title contenders, though Sykes and Guintoli sit on the front row for the two races, Eugene Laverty will get underway from the second row in fourth place, while Marco Melandri will start in seventh having been fortunate to reach the final stage when he was almost caught out at the end of SP1.

Instead, Davide Giugliano sits on the front row aboard the Althea Aprilia, the Italian carrying his strong form from Laguna Seca to once more prove something of a thorn for the title rivals.

Similarly, countrymen Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini also find themselves in the mix after qualifying their respective Honda and Ducati machines in fifth and sixth.

Behind Melandri, Chaz Davies will start from eighth position alongside his team-mate, while FIXI Crescent Suzuki deputy Vincent Philippe called upon his local knowledge to reach SP2, even if he almost achieved notoriety when he came close to spoiling Sykes's rapid pole-winning lap.

With conditions always drying and a spot on the first three rows to play for, the battle to prevail in SP1 and qualify for SP2 was a typically hectic one with WSBK newcomer Michele Pirro just missing out in tenth place after crashing heavily at Imola.

Nonetheless, his earlier effort was still enough to out-perform Toni Elias and Jules Cluzel in 11th and 12th, while David Salom, Lorenzo Lanzi and Leon Haslam make up row four, the latter also suffering a skid at Imola early in the session.