Second in the series standings with two races left to run, ZX-10R Ninja-mounted Sykes has dominated SuperPole this season and was the star of action in France. The 27 year old Brit turned a lap at 1:36.95 early in the third and final session, securing the top spot on the starting grid for both of tomorrow’s 23 lap races.
Outgoing series Champ Carlos Checa of Spain netted second on the Althea Ducati 1098R, running up front in the final event for the famed Desmo twin machine before it is replaced by the new Panigale model for 2013. Checa turned a best lap of 1:37.422.
Third best belonged to Eugene Laverty of Ireland aboard the works Aprilia RSV4 Factory with a lap at 1:37.516, one tenth of a second behind Checa and just over a tenth clear of fourth best Marco Melandri.
BMW Motorrad Motorsports S1000RR mounted Italian Melandri is one of the riders in contention for the World title, and riding hurt thanks to a crash at the most recent round in Portugal. He turned a lap at 1:37.658, and will start on the outside of the first row tomorrow.
SBK World Championship series leader Max Biaggi of Italy was quickest in the opening of three Tissot-SuperPole sessions, but faded to tenth in the second instalment and thus didn’t qualify for the crucial third session. This means that “Roman Emperor” Biaggi starts from row three of the grid, making his work tomorrow a little more complicated that it could be.
Former series Champ Biaggi leads the points race with a total of 347, followed by Sykes at 316.5 and Melandri at 308.5 points. Over the course of tomorrow’s 46 laps over two events, there is a potential maximum total point haul of 50 if a competitor were to score victories in both races.
Row two for tomorrow’s races will be headed by the fifth fastest Pata Ducati of Sylvain Guintoli, the top local ace already victorious in two races in 2012. If it rains, Guintoli is expected to star – and as usual for SBK this season, rain is in the Sunday forecast.
Guintoli will be joined on row two by Jonathan Rea, who was disappointed to only net sixth best time on the works Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR. Completing the second line will be Leon Haslam on the second factory BMW entry. Many paddock insiders wonder to what degree team order will come into play during the final 2012 SBK series rounds.
Sykes Kawasaki team-mate Loris Bas, the teen-aged series rookie and Silverstone wet round winner, starts 13th. Of course Biaggi’s Aprilia team-mate, Laverty, is third on the grid, seven spots ahead of the Championship leader.