Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes has obliterated the World Superbike outright lap record on his way to pole position at Sepang today, going three-quarters of a second under Sylvain Guintoli’s previous best after having to come through a wet Superpole one.
The former champion set a 2’02.245 to be the only man under the 2’03 barrier all weekend even though his Pirelli qualifier ran out of grip into the final corner and no-one was in the same ballpark.
Team-mate Jonathan Rea had taken top spot just seconds before with a 2’03.021 but his lap was blown out of the water by Sykes and then the reigning champion was bumped to the outside of the front row by Alex Lowes, who nipped ahead on the Pata Yamaha as he put in a 2’03.002 with his final effort but may struggle with the R1 when the grip goes away in the race later on.
Nicky Hayden starts at the head of row two after leading the way with only one minute left to run while Ducati’s Chaz Davies is next to him. The Ducati man was more than a 1.2s slower than Sykes but history this year has shown the Panigale is very strong in race trim and has looked after its tyre well so far.
Althea BMW’s Markus Reiterberger took sixth with yesterday’s fastest man Lorenzo Savadori in seventh. Jordi Torres, Davide Giugliano and Michael Van Der Mark complete the top ten while Leon Camier, who came through Superpole one is 12th, one behind Anthony West.
Camier had a strong showing in the first part of qualifying but had to contend with a rain shower which threw the cat among the pigeons. After intial laps, the heavens opened and it looked like Sykes and Pawel Szkopek would be the men to go through but the searing heat of Sepang saw the surface dry rapidly.
Reigning British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes was the first man to take advantage, setting a 2’06.699 but he was edged backwards to finish the session in fourth as first Camier, then Sykes took the lead. Alex De Angelis also slipped ahead of the Australian and he now starts from 14th place, one ahead of Xavi Fores.