WorldSBK Phillip Island - Superpole Qualifying Results

Tom Sykes has stormed to a dominant pole position for the opening round of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship at Phillip Island as Alvaro Bautista suffered a large crash ahead of his Honda race debut.

A fast and frantic session that was interrupted mid-way through when Xavi Fores’ Puccetti Kawasaki shed bodywork on the home straight, the pause didn’t disrupt Sykes’ flow as he pumped in a stunning 1m 29.290secs lap in the closing stages.

At the time more than eight tenths clear of the opposition, second place Scott Redding could only get that margin down to three tenths as Sykes became the first rider to hit 50 WorldSBK pole positions.

Redding – who was quickest in all three practice sessions – might have hoped to get closer but for an untidy first lap on the qualifying tyres, the Briton nonetheless doing enough on his second attempt to secure a front row start for his WorldSBK debut.

Jonathan Rea completed the front row to put himself in a solid position ahead of the 2020 opener, while Toprak Razgatlioglu secured one of his best-ever starting positions in fourth place as the best-placed Yamaha rider.

Leon Haslam made it five different manufacturers inside the top five to bring some joy to the Honda team, after it’d seen its star rider Bautista throw away his hopes of a good grid spot with a crash at Lukey Heights.

The Spaniard was following Redding when he ran wide at the entry to the long left-hander, hitting the grass and being forced to drop the CBR1000RR-R. Causing it to barrel roll through the gravel, despite the airborne incident, Bautista was able to walk away but will start well down the order as a result.

Michael van der Mark and Loris Baz ensured a strong Yamaha representation in sixth and seventh positions, ahead of Alex Lowes, who headed off a trio of privateer Kawasakis in Sandro Cortese, the recovering Fores and impressive rookie Maximilian Scheib in 11th.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for Eugene Laverty as he fell well short of his team-mate’s benchmark in 13th, while Chaz Davies was well out of sorts as he laboured to 16th in the 18-strong field, already reduced by the withdrawal of the injured Leon Camier.