Suzuki machinery will be starting from the top two positions on the grid for tomorrow’s BSB races at Mallory Park, headed by Tom Sykes on the Rizla Suzuki.
Sykes denied fellow Suzuki rider Michael Laverty with the Relentless Suzuki squad his first ever British Superbike pole in the dying seconds of today’s 50-minute qualifying session.
With seven minutes of the session remaining, the reigning British Supersport Champion put his jet-black Suzuki to the top of the pile with a 56.109.
But Sykes, who had been quickest at the start of the session, ripped the pole away from him on his number two motorcycle after problems with the number one Rizla Suzuki during the session.
After securing pole Sykes said: “It’s a shame we had to revert to the number two bike because the times were coming easy at the start of qualifying and I was very comfortable.
“Unfortunately we had a problem with the number one bike so we had to change to the spare machine.
“That was a little more difficult to ride but I had to make it happen – I had to change my style a bit – it was all good fun.
“I would have liked to have put a bigger gap between myself and second but we’re running consistent lap times so it should be a good race tomorrow.”
Sykes’ Team Manager, Jack Valentine, also made comment after the session, paying respects to the close-following second Suzuki outfit.
“It’s looking very good for tomorrow, especially with another Suzuki in second,” said Valentine.
“Tom is up for a win and I think we’ll have a really good race on our hands.
“The Relentless Suzuki lads are good old boys – we’ve got to push that bit harder to beat them.”
It took Sykes just four minutes to head the qualifying session for tomorrow’s 30-lap races.
A time of 56.502 was good enough to keep ‘The Grinner’ at the top of the timing sheets for 25 minutes before Shane Byrne took the position away from him.
With 28 minutes of the session left, Sykes came to a standstill on the start/finish straight.
And just moments before Michael Laverty had shown his intentions by going third fastest, followed by Tristan Palmer on the Tena for Men Honda who’s been impressive all weekend.
John Laverty proved that it wasn’t just his older brother who could go well at the Leicestershire circuit, putting the 6th fastest time in with 25 minutes remaining on his NW200 Buildbase Ducati Cup bike.
Billy McConnell and Simon Andrews both then had their own dramas – McConnell crashing at the hairpin and rejoining and Andrews received a black and orange flag for a problem with his swingarm.
With nine minutes left in the session, Michael Laverty jumped up to third fastest, and two minutes later went to pole with a 56.109.
Cal Crutchlow, who has topped the previous two dry sessions of the weekend, put in the third fastest time behind Laverty and Byrne with three minutes remaining.
With a minute to go Byrne ended any hopes of landing his fifth pole position of the season by running off the track at turn one, and when the flag did come out it was Sykes who nicked the prime starting spot away from Laverty.
Tomorrow’s races, scheduled to begin at 13.15 and 16.20, should be extremely close with the top 16 riders covered by less than one second in qualifying!
British Superbikes Qualifying Results
1. Tom Sykes Rizla Suzuki 56.006
2. Michael Laverty Relentless Suzuki 56.109
3. Shane Byrne Airwaves Ducati 56.172
4. Cal Crutchlow HM Plant Honda 56.135
5. Leon Haslam HM Plant Honda 56.234
6. Michael Rutter North West 200 Ducati 56.336
7. Karl Harris RM Racing Yamaha 56.435
8. Tristan Palmer Tena for Men Honda 56.494
9. John Laverty NW200 Buildbase Ducati 56.534
10. Billy McConnell MSS Discovery Kawasaki 56.535
11. Leon Camier Airwaves Ducati 56.540
12. Atsushi Watanabe Rizla Suzuki 56.736
13. Simon Andrews Lloyds British Jentin Yamaha 56.776
14. Scott Smart Hawk Kawasaki 56.880
15. James Ellison Hydrex Bike Animal Honda 56.941
16. Gary Mason Quay Garage Honda 56.983