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Thrilling third for Sykes at Oulton Park

RIZLA SUZUKIS Tom Sykes took a hard fought third place at Oulton Park for round seven of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, while his team-mate Atsushi Watanabe came home in 13th position.

The 50-minute qualifying session started off in damp conditions but the 2.69-mile Cheshire circuit dried rapidly. Sykes was always in contention for pole position and led the time-sheets for much of the session, showing he has real race-winning pace. Watanabe used his previous experience at Oulton Park to maintain his top 15 placing and will be aiming for a top 10 finish when the racing starts in anger.

Race one will take place at 1315 on Sunday 20th July and race two at 1630. British Eurosport will broadcast live at 1300 - 1430 and 1530 1715.

Tom: I think I could have been a little further up if I hadnt been caught up in traffic at the end of the session but third place and the front row of the grid is fine as I know I can get away well. During free practice we worked our way through a number of wet settings and we have made some progress getting the bike nicely balanced for racing in the rain if it comes tomorrow.

In the dry there is still a bit of work to be done as the front end is feeling a little vague at a couple of corners and I want the bike to be doing the work rather than me. I can put in consistent 1min 36s which is a good race pace so I feel confident ahead of tomorrows races.

Atsu: I am happy I have improved since last Oulton Park. My lap times are better and my feeling for the track. My Rizla Suzuki technicians worked hard on rear settings to improve how my bike feels as it had a lot of movement. I want good finish tomorrow for me and my team.

Pete Jennings, Crew Chief: Tom did get baulked towards the end of the session which was a shame but his race pace is good, and we have a few little changes to make ahead of race day which we will evaluate during warm-up.

Qualifying results:
1: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1:36.298
2: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.292
3: TOM SYKES (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.293
4: Leon Haslam (Honda) +0.523
5: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +0.533
6: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +0.807
7: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +1.073
8: James Ellison (Honda) +1.260
9: Tristan Palmer (Honda) +1.502
10: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +1.542
13: ATSUSHI WATANABE (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.754