Tom Sykes swept to third place and his first front row start of 2015 in World Superbike qualifying at Aragon despite combating a stomach virus that has zapped his strength all weekend.

The former world champion was on course to take his first pole position since the penultimate round of 2014 until rear tyre degradation forced him to adopt a cautious approach through the final sector.

"We're improving and for this I'm definitely happy," he said. "We started the weekend in a good position and we're now in a better position. I'm very happy with race performance and, of course, everyone always tries to improve. We'll have a look at the situation we're in.

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As soon as we put in the qualifying tyre I had too many warnings early in the lap. The last sector is a fast corner to finish the lap and when I came into that sector I didn't want to go in too hot. When you're in it's difficult to correct it. Those warnings did put me of a little bit and, like I said, it wasn't a perfect lap but it was good enough for the front row and I'm happy enough with that.

We had a change with the balance of the bike. I just ran wide at a couple of the corners. I think, realistically, [I lost] three or four tenths but it's east to say that. The fact is two guys were faster than me."

Sykes showed strongly in the fourth free practice session of the day but has still been unable to eat as a result of a stomach virus. Asked about his physical condition he said, "[Today was] Much better. I'm still not 100 percent. Drinking's not a big problem but eating is almost impossible. I was in bed almost as early as my daughter yesterday so we're very much looking forward to another early night."