RIZLA SUZUKI World Superbike debutant Tom Sykes scorched to sixth place on the second row of the grid in his first ever Superpole qualifying session at Brands Hatch in Kent, building his confidence for tomorrows World Championship 10th round double-header races.
Toms first ambition was to achieve a top 16 placing in qualifying to ensure he made it through to Superpole and he achieved it comfortably, placing 10th. In the following practice session before Superpole he tried his first ever Pirelli qualifying tyre and went even faster again, finishing fourth, setting himself up for the final qualifying shoot out.
Rain forced the afternoons one-lap Superpole format to be declared wet, giving the riders a maximum of 12-laps within a 50-minute period. Tom and the other riders dashed out at the start on qualifiers with a dry track but the rain fell before he could record a fast lap time. The next 30-minutes were spent in a tense garage waiting while the track dried out.
With 15-minutes remaining and in bright sunshine, Tom briefly took pole position on his Rizla Suzuki before times started to tumble. Always in the hunt for the first two rows, he kept a cool head to bring his GSX-R1000 home in dramatic weather conditions. Ducatis World Championship leader Troy Bayliss took pole position.
Superbike race one is at noon on Sunday August 3rd with race two at 1530. British Eurosport will broadcast live from 1100-1700 or you can watch on-line at www.worldsbk.com.
Tom: A second row start my first time out in Superpole is fine with me. The weather made for tricky conditions but we have got a good starting position and know we have decent race pace.
On my final quick lap I didnt push quite as hard as I might have. I wanted to get a good starting position and once that was achieved I didnt want to risk a crash trying a little bit too hard for a couple more 10ths of a second there was still a damp line at Stirlings.
This is a new experience for me and we are all really enjoying ourselves and hopefully putting on a good show. I am confident for tomorrow and it is all credit to my Rizla Suzuki team for giving me a fantastic bike that is so competitive. Im not sure what we can achieve in the races but if I do get a sniff of the podium, Ill be going for it.
Jack Valentine, Rizla Suzuki Team Manager: Everything is going to plan so far, we wanted to be in Superpole and we got it; then we wanted a start on the front two rows and we got that as well.
It was hard for Tom to have such mixed weather in his first Superpole but he coped well and couldve been quicker but decided not to risk a crash which is exactly the right thing to do. Sixth place is simply fantastic on his WSB debut and I am proud of him and the whole Rizla Suzuki team.
We are the first Suzuki in qualifying, which is astounding when you consider we are running a British Superbike specification race bike which is in a state of lower tune than the other bikes here. I think it shows just how well Rizla Suzuki as a team and the GSX-R1000 as a race bike are performing and the success we are now enjoying in BSB can transfer to the world stage.
A big thank you to the crowd during Superpole - we could hear the cheers and air-horns and it lifted the guys in the garage as well as Tom on the bike. That sort of support really counts, so please keep it up folks.
1: T Bayliss (Ducati) 1:25.656
2: N Haga (Yamaha) +0.023
3: R Kiyonari (Honda) +0.304
4: J Smrz (Ducati) +0.304
5: T Corser (Yamaha) +0.0365
6: TOM SYKES (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.510
7: M Biaggi (Ducati) +0.513
8: M Neukirchner (Suzuki) +0.570
9: Y Kagayama (Suzuki) +0.845
10: F Nieto (Suzuki) +1.032.