Sykes’ encouraging start of the weekend was hampered by a late crash at turn four that damaged his Ninja ZX-10R, but the works Kawasaki rider walked away from the gravel uninjured. A few seconds before Frenchman Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) lost control of his GSX-R1000 at the exact same spot.
Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) kept his momentum up after Monza's success by finishing third, followed by the Aprilia duo of Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) and Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing), Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) and Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia). Melandri's team mate Chaz Davies was eighth ahead of works Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty.
Local hero Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) fought against the pain to complete an outstanding total of eight laps (14th place). The rider from Derby was declared fit to ride but his conditions will be reviewed again before Saturday's Qualifying 2. Haslam fractured his left leg at Assen and despite still recovering from the injury, he is doing his very best to tackle the whole round.
“I wasn’t going to go out if the conditions were as dodgy as they were this morning but if it rains tomorrow I needed to get a banker in,” Haslam explained. “I managed to do that and get in the top 15 in case it rains, and I only got two laps in dodgy conditions.
“We made a few adjustments to the bike which helped the knee but in that session I had no pain killers, no strapping, nothing, so for me it can only get better from now. I’m going now to get it iced up and have some more treatment and make a better plan for tomorrow morning.”
Despite wet track conditions, low temperatures and strong winds blowing, World Supersport riders were on track Friday afternoon for the first qualifying session of round five at Donington Park. While some of the front-runners in the standings kept in the respective garages for most of the session, the rest of the field put up a good challenge as the track conditions improved slightly during the 45 minutes.
Current championship leader Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) waited until the very last minutes to enter the track and top the timesheets - courtesy of a 1:43.642 lap-time - ahead of defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki), who's seeking retribution after last round's DNF. Lowes put a 1.116 seconds gap between himself and the three-time World Champion.
Although being declared fit to ride, Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) and Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) decided to stay out of trouble and didn't get on track.
South African Mathew Scholtz (Suriano Racing Team Suzuki) finished third followed by 2007 125cc World Champion Gabor Talmacsi (Prorace Honda).
World Superbike Qualifying Times
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:30.278 (160.424km/h)
2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:31.560
3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:31.571
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:31.792
5. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1:31.940
6. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:31.978
7. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1:32.094
8. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1:32.103
9. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:32.242
10. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:32.261
11. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 1:32.677
12. Niccola Canepa (Ducati) 1:33.174
13. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 1:33.205
14. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:33.402
15. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:33.530
16. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) 1:34.198