Storming Sykes returns to pole in Barcelona, Razgatlioglu and Rea close behind

Saturday, 18 September 2021 09:53 GMT

Sykes delivered the goods to give the BMW M 1000 RR its first pole in WorldSBK, whilst the title battle is set to play out next to him

The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship fired into life at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for round nine and the Hyundai N Catalunya Round. Tissot Superpole was as frenetic as ever, but there was the Championship’s most successful qualifier who took pole. Back at the head of the front row for the first time since Australia in 2020, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took the BMW M 1000 RR to its first pole position, whilst he took his 51st of a distinguished career. He saw off Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

FRANTIC FROM THE START: the opening moments of Superpole

Jonathan Rea started his Tissot Superpole session with a race tyre, looking to get a banker lap secured, with most riders following the defending six-time World Champion’s decision. However, after just the out-lap, both he and teammate Alex Lowes peeled into the pitlane, ready to fit their Q tyres. After the first five minutes and the first times came in, Tom Sykes was, as usual the first to blink, setting the first lap in the 1’40s, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati).

Looking back on form, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was inside the top four after his first run. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) were next up, with four Yamahas inside the six after the first half of the session, but that was all about to change.

FINAL FLURRY: the shootout for pole

As everyone put in the Q tyre and put in their bid for pole, Axel Bassani was up into seventh, but all of the other riders were more or less on track together and soon, the changes came. Redding was the first of the title contenders to come across the line and he crossed the line to go to the front row, before Jonathan Rea also came to the line to go provisional pole. Razgatlioglu came through the final sector and pipped Rea, but it was Tom Sykes who bounced back to take his first pole position since Phillip Island in 2020, his 51st pole and BMW’s fifth, meaning he has now had a pole every year since 2010. A 1’40.408s saw him lead the way with second going to Razgatlioglu, whilst Jonathan Rea’s stranglehold on pole was broken and he’ll start third, his ninth straight front row.

BEST OF THE REST: a challenge from behind

Being demoted from the front row right at the end of the session, Scott Redding was fourth but he looks back on good form after a tricky start to the weekend; Redding’s fourth also means that there’s four manufacturers inside the top four. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was backing up his teammate’s efforts with fifth, a double top five for the KRT outfit at their home round. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) goes from sixth, with both him and Lowes setting their sights on helping out their team leaders across the races, although they’ll have their work cut out.

Making it five manufacturers inside the top seven, Leon Haslam (Team HRC) blasted up the order with the ‘Pocket Rocket’ coming up from outside the top ten to secure a place at the head of the third row. Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) was eighth, less than a quarter of a tenth behind Haslam and within half a second of the front row, the times being close at Catalunya. Ninth place went to Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with the Dutchman aiming to use his renowned race pace to propel him up the order. With the factory riders packing out the places, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) is the top Independent in tenth, heading up the fourth row with an impressive Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and teammate Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) behind him, with Nozane taking his best Superpole in WorldSBK.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Impressive performances, shock slumps

Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) was only 13th, whilst it was impressive return to WorldSBK for Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team), with the Italian finishing 14th. On the contrary, it was a disaster for Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC), as the Spaniard will go from 16th, just one place ahead of Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team). World Superbike debutant Lachlan Epis (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) brings up the rear in 22nd place.

Top six after Tissot Superpole, full results here:

1. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’40.408s

2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.286s

3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.513s

4. Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) +0.570s

5. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.678s

6. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.721s

Race 1 for WorldSBK kicks off at 15:15 local time (GMT+2), so watch all the drama unfold from the battle of Barcelona with the WorldSBK VideoPass!