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  • Sylvain Guintoli transfers his practice pace into a second WSBK pole of the season in Malaysia
  • Just a tenth covers the front row of Guintoli, Tom Sykes and Davide Giugliano
  • Loris Baz looked on course to challenge for pole position before crashing at the final corner

Sylvain Guintoli has become the first two-time Superpole winner of the 2014 World Superbike Championship season after doing just enough to claim pole position over his close-following rivals in Sepang, Malaysia.

The Frenchman, who also started from the front at Phillip Island, had been a firm favourite for pole position coming into Superpole after dominating FP2, FP3 and FP4, but though he was never headed on the timesheets, things would prove tighter than expected by the chequered flag.

Getting things off to a good start with a lap of 2mins 03.581secs - the fastest lap of the weekend thus far - , Guintoli's second run would prove even quicker, the Aprilia rider stopping the clock at 2mins 03.002secs.

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However, with the opposition picking up the pace behind him, it briefly appeared as though he could be toppled. As it happens, Guintoli's effort would prove just enough to see off Tom Sykes and Davide Giugliano, the pair falling just a tenth short around the longest circuit on the 2014 WSBK calendar.

Indeed, Guintoli arguably would have been forced to settle for second place had countryman Loris Baz been able to complete his flying lap, the Frenchman looking on course to break 2mins 03secs, only to slip off at the final corner hairpin.

Making the most of following Guintoli for a tow, Toni Elias will start from fourth place - his best qualifying performance since his switch to World Superbikes -, ahead of Marco Melandri, the Italian unable to match the pace of his team-mate in fifth place.

Despite the fall, Baz will still get underway from row two in sixth place, with Eugene Laverty just missing out on his target of a top six start in seventh after very nearly losing his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki on the difficult bumps on the exit of the final turn.

He will share the third row with Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes, who secured ninth having progressed from SP1, ahead of down-on-power Honda pair Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, as well as leading EVO rider David Salom.

With Lowes and Salom getting through in SP1, Niccolo Canepa will start from 13th place, ahead of Claudio Corti Christian Iddon, Leon Camier, Sheridan Morais and Ayrton Badovini, the latter a disappointing 18th after crashing on his fastest lap.