RIZLA SUZUKIS Tom Sykes showed raw ability and speed during the opening day of the 10th round of the World Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch in Kent, qualifying in a competitive ninth place, just half a second away from pole position.
The Huddersfield based wild card rider wasnt fazed on his World Superbike debut by the plethora of stars that were on track alongside him as he knuckled down to work his way through the Pirelli tyre combinations available this weekend. He took the challenge to the regular World Superbike riders, grabbing a top 10 placing and putting in consistent lap times throughout the day.
His Rizla Suzuki worked well on the arduous 2.3-mile undulating Kent circuit as his team already had a good set-up from previous British Superbike rounds. With 1sec covering the top 15 riders, Sykes has a tough weekend ahead but is confident there is more to come. Ryuichi Kiyonari, the reigning British Superbike Champion, was fastest.
Second qualifying and Superpole takes place on Saturday 2nd August. Race day is Sunday 3rd with race one at 1200 and race two at 1530. British Eurosport will broadcast live from 1100-1700 or you can watch on line at www.worldsbk.com.
Tom: That was a decent session and Im quite happy with the set-up, we need to make a few little changes as the World Superbike tyres have different characteristic to the BSB tyres. I want to be able to use more of the potential grip on the rear. Im only 0.5secs off so it isnt the end of the world and Im happy with our race tyres.
Jack Valentine, Team Manager Rizla Suzuki: That was a pretty good first qualifying session. Weve spent time on our race set-up and working through the available tyre combinations, some of which we havent tried out previously. We have a few chassis changes to make to the Rizla Suzuki which will help the front hold the line when Tom is on the gas. Im really pleased so far as we are running consistent times and have good race pace. On ideal times Tom would have been seventh, there isnt much in it. I know we can improve and Tom will step up again tomorrow and challenge for the front row.
Qualifying one results:
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari, JPN, (Honda) 1:26.017
2: Noriyuki Haga, JPN, (Yamaha) +0.127
3: Yukio Kagayama, JPN, (Suzuki) +0.139
4: Max Biaggi, ITA, (Ducati) +0.149
5: Jakub Smrz, CZE, (Ducati) +0.273
6: Gregorio Lavilla, ESP, (Honda) +0.424
7: Troy Corser, AUS, (Yamaha) +0.444
8: Karl Muggeridge, AUS, (Honda) +0.548
9: TOM SYKES, GBR, (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.555
10: Fonsi Nieto, ESP, (Suzuki) +0.565