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Qatar WSBK: Front row start for Sykes

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes will start the first of two World Superbike races at a floodlit Losail circuit from the front row, but the title challenger and reigning champ missed out on pole by four tenths of a second to Ducati’s Davide Giugliano.

The Italian bagged the outright lap record on his way to the number one spot on the starting grid, after a super fast 1’57.033, going two tenths quicker than Ben Spies' record from 2009.

Sykes’ team-mate Loris Baz was also on good form and sandwiched himself between the Yorkshireman and the Roman and starts from second place tomorrow, going 0.2 seconds quicker than his Kawasaki colleague.

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Ducati’s Chaz Davies heads row two, with a solid 1’57.562, followed by title fighter Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli, who's only twelve points behind Sykes in the championship, and Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam. The Smalley rider clocked a 1’58.005, going one tenth faster than his team-mate.

There were crashes for the British contingent. First it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea who fell with 30 seconds remaining at turn 8. He was uninjured, and so was Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes.

The former MCE British Superbike champ fell at turn 13 just as the chequered flag appeared. Rea shares row three with Voltcom Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty who set a 1’58.379, but Lowes finds himself on the fourth row with Red Devils Roma’s Toni Elias.

In Superpole one it was the diminutive Italian figure of Melandri who dominated the session, and eased his way into Superpole two, and was joined by the Evo champion, Kawasaki’s David Salom.

BMW Italia’s Sylvain Barrier was close to making it though to the final qualifying outing, but had to settle for 13th on the starting grid, after he experienced a massive high side causing the red flags to come out.

But the injury prone Frenchman appeared to have walked away pretty much unscathed, with fellow Evo rider Althea Racing’s Niccolo Canepa starting both races tomorrow from 14th.

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