Tom Sykes overturned expectations to claim pole position for the opening race of the eighth World Superbike Championship round at Laguna Seca, ahead of team-mate Jonathan Rea.

Rea and Ducati's Chaz Davies had come into Superpole as the comfortable favourites to fight it out for pole position after dominating free practice, but it was qualifying specialist Sykes that would once more prevail when it mattered over a single lap.

Notching up a third pole position of the year - and a 41st for his career -, Sykes held off team-mate and title rival Rea by a tenth of a second, with Davies three tenths back on the best of the Ducati riders, his team-mate Marco Melandri following up in fourth.

Though unable to make a dent on the top four, Eugene Laverty enjoyed his strongest qualifying of the year with a run to fifth on the grid for Milwaukee Aprilia, while Leandro Mercado was a surprise sixth best for IodaRacing Ducati, the Argentine having only made it to Superpole via a lap in SP1.

Xavi Fores heads up row three, ahead of lead Yamaha rider Alex Lowes, with Leon Camier, Lorenzo Savadori, Jordi Torres and Alex de Angelis completing the remainder of the SP2 runners down to 12th

Failing to make it through to Superpole, Michael van der Mark was a surprise casualty in SP1 after setting the third quickest time - translating to 13th on the grid -, ahead if Raffaele De Rosa, Roman Ramos and Randy Krummenacher.



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