Sykes and Rea Duel for Laguna Seca Tissot-Superpole

Saturday, 9 July 2016 19:21 GMT

Kawasaki riders head the grid with Ducati’s Davide Giugliano completing the front row

The Californian sun was back out in force as Saturday dawned for the first Tissot-Superpole qualifying session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After a morning Warm Up that saw Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea take the top spot, the WorldSBK machines were back out on track at 11:30 local time (GMT -7) for Superpole 1, with two spots in Superpole 2 up for grabs to be able to fight for the top 12 spots on the grid. Despite missing FP1 through some small mechanical issues with his MV Agusta, Leon Camier was the rider in control of the session, immediately down into the low 1:24s, and the Brit improved further to top the session with a 1:23.545 – ahead of P2 rider Michael van der Mark by only 0.011 as the Dutchman put in an equally quick lap to go through.

In early control of Superpole 2 was Jonathan Rea, as the Kawasaki rider once again showed he had the one lap and longer-run pace to be a serious threat, on a track most had regarded as Davies’ territory. Never having won at Laguna Seca and having been beaten over the line in 2015 by the Ducati of Chaz Davies and his own teammate Tom Sykes, the Northern Irishman was out to take the California soil for the first time – and wanted to do it from pole.

As van der Mark led the second charge back on track, the lap times started to tumble with Rea then putting in a time that left him a staggering seven tenths clear at the top of the table, with everyone else left to push to find the extra from what seemed like thin air. As the Racing – Ducati duo of Giugliano and Davies chipped away at the time and got a lot closer, the final push saw Tom Sykes with the only sectors capable of challenging his teammate, and the Yorkshireman did it – crossing the line only 0.055 ahead of teammate Rea.

Sykes begins the Races at Laguna Seca from the well-earned pole position and in doing so becomes only the second rider after Troy Corser to start from pole more than once at the California venue. With Rea so close behind, the drag away from the line is sure to be a classic. Giugliano completes the front row in P3.

The second row is headed by Chaz Davies, who was the fastest man on Friday and last year’s double winner, ahead of Xavi Forés for Barni Racing in P5 and Nicky Hayden, with the Kentucky Kid completing the second row at home. Last year’s front row rookie Jordi Torres put in a great session to head row 3 in P7 for Althea BMW, ahead of IodaRacing’s Lorenzo Savadori, who impressed on his first time at the track.

Niccolo Canepa, riding for injured Sylvain Guintoli at Pata Yamaha, narrowly outqualified his teammate Alex Lowes as the pair line up in P9 and P10 respectively, split by less than 2 hundredths of a second, ahead of Superpole 1 graduates Michael van der Mark of Honda and Leon Camier on the MV Agusta.

The second IodaRacing machine of Alex De Angelis will start in P13, with the top 15 rounded out by Pedercini’s Anthony West and Milwaukee BMW’s Josh Brookes.

Race 1 sees lights out at 14:30 local time (GMT -7), as the Kawasaki duo prepare to duel it out from the front of the front row, into the blind Turn 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.