Portimao (Portugal), Saturday 8 June 2013 - Under the grey skies of the Autodromo International do Algarve, the eni FIM Superbike World Championship riders tackled today the 6th Tissot-Superpole of the season.
An incredibly close battle for the top slot on the grid saw Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) scoring his 16th career pole position for just a thousandth of a second - that translates into only 4.5 cm - on Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team). The same gap between the top-2 riders in Superpole happened only once before, as in 2009 Ben Spies snatched pole from Michel Fabrizio at Kyalami. The 1'41.360 set by the British rider meant also a new Best Lap for the Portuguese track.
Tom Sykes: “I am really happy to have five Tissot-Superpole wins on the bounce, it is a record for me. I was able to do my time on a dry and sunny track but Eugene Laverty almost beat me to it this time. I am looking forward to two races tomorrow and I am expecting them to be difficult. We took a circuit best lap and I was surprised at that because last year I put in a good lap in better conditions. I think it shows that Pirelli have made a good step with the tyres."
Eugene Laverty: "You can't get any closer to the pole than that! In any case I'm happy to be on the front row. I made a small mistake on my fast lap and I thought I had compromised my performance. It's a shame for that thousandth of a second, but in any case we're ready for the races tomorrow and that the weather conditions will be good."
Today's Superpole was partly influenced by the weather, as drops of rain began to fall moments before the start of Superpole 2. As per the 2013 WSBK Sporting Regulations, a final 20-minute wet session took place with all 12 riders involved. The conditions quickly improved, though, meaning the riders could fight for top positions on the grid on a dry track.
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) completes the first row of the grid for tomorrow's two races, continuing to impress after the excellent performance in qualifying. Fourth place Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Goldbet) finished ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and an improving Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare), who was able to put up a good lap onboard his 1199 Panigale R despite his left shoulder injury.
Frenchman Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) was 8th at the flag followed by the Italian trio of Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) and Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati). The 2011 STK1000 Champion had a minor crash at Turn 8 during the last Superpole session.
World Supersport – Lowes on pole over Sofuoglu
Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha's Sam Lowes keeps his 2013 pole position streak alive by securing the top spot on the grid - for the fourth time in a row - after today's Qualifying 2. The current Championship leader set a successful lap-time of 1'44.804 using race tyres, resulting the only rider able to lap below the 1'45 bracket. Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) will start tomorrow's race from 2nd place, followed by Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda), team mate Fabien Foret and Andrea Antonelli (Team Goeleven Kawasaki).
Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) was 6th ahead of Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) and Luca Scassa (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki). The Irishman had a collision with Lowes during the session from which he escaped uninjured, despite some initial concern.
David Salom (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) ended up 11th, behind Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda) and rookie Riccardo Russo (Puccetti Racing Kawasaki). Another collision involved Mathew Scholtz (Team Suriano Racing Suzuki) and Gabor Talmacsi (Prorace Honda), while an unfortunate Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport) crashed on his own at Turn 15, eventually qualifying in 26th place.