WSB Qatar: Sykes eighth after opening Losail salvoes
The defending World Champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had a tough first evening at Losail under the floodlights as he finished only eighth after three free practice sessions that count towards qualifying. His only championship rival Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing) secured third best time, behind leader Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) and Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike).
Loris Baz (KRT) went fourth and was top Kawasaki rider, while the leader after the second session, Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) was eventually fifth after not being able to set a lap time in the final session. Alex Lowes, despite a fall today, was sixth on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Chaz Davies piled the British riders into the top places by going seventh on his official Ducati.
Behind Sykes, Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) put himself ninth, and Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) was the tenth placed qualifier.
In a shock showing, Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing) was only 11th, just ahead of the best Evo rider Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati).
With all of the first three qualifying sessions completed on day one, the top ten riders who go to Superpole Two by right, and the top ten who will start Superpole One, have already been decided.
There will be one free practice session on Saturday, then Superpole qualifying.