Kawasaki took its first World Superbike Superpole win since 2007 when Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) lapped the damp Imola circuit in 2:07.341, claiming his maiden WSBK pole position on Saturday.
Sykes held off a late charge from Pata B&G Aprilia rider Jakub Smrz, becoming the seventh rider to have earned a pole position in 12 rounds contested so far during 2010.
The last Kawasaki rider to take pole in WSB was Fonsi Nieto, at the Lausitzring in Germany, in 2007. Sykes’ pre-race success today was Kawasaki’s 20th WSBK pole position.
“It’s great to win Superpole for the first time,” Sykes commented. “It is something extra to put on my CV and a good way to say a big thank you to both Kawasaki and the team. It is a good job we had one wet race at Brands Hatch in the BSB meeting we did earlier in the summer because we tried a few things in that race that clearly didn’t work.
“Because of that we knew exactly where we needed to be now. We still need to improve the bike in the wet, but once again we know which direction to go in. The boys in the team have got it all covered, so all I have to do is get on tomorrow and try my hardest.”
Smrz was equally as happy in his second place result.
“It was a really nice result for me, because it’s my first time on the Aprilia in the wet,” he said. “It was very difficult, I’m still struggling a bit with the set-up of the new bike, but today was really good and really close. I can’t change the conditions anyway, so everybody will be in the same boat.”
Championship challenger Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) went third and the last place on the front row will go to local regular, Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati). This is Scassa’s first front row in WSBK racing.
“It was quite sketchy out there, the first lap with the new tyre wasn’t too bad but there were a lot of slippery crashes,” Haslam explained. “It’s the first time I’ve been in a wet weather situation with the Suzuki so to have put it on the front row, I’m quite pleased with that.
“I’ve been third in the dry and third in the wet here so it gives me a good chance of getting onto the podium tomorrow. I just want to say thanks to the Alstare boys, they’ve done wonders all year, I hope to repay them with a win.”
The second row for Sunday’s races will be headed up by Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati), with the smooth riding-style of Troy Corser taking him to sixth fastest for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) was seventh fastest and starts the races from the second row, as he tries to win the championship tomorrow. Eighth was the second official BMW, ridden by a former race winner here, Ruben Xaus.
In damp conditions Superpole two was treacherous and Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) fell from his big vee-twin exiting a chicane, as did many other riders. Fastest going into Superpole, Carlos was therefore ninth fastest overall, ahead of the factory Ducati Xerox machine of Michel Fabrizio.
The third row was rounded out by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Max Neukirchner and Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda). Crutchlow was on track to enter Superpole three, but ran off track without falling at the first Rivazza corner.
In World Supersport, the 1:52.397 lap he set on the first day was enough to give Kenan Sofuoglu (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda) pole at Imola, as all the riders’ times remained as they were on Friday, due to the damp track conditions they experienced today.
This keeps Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) second, Michele Pirro (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda) third and Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki Motocard.com) fourth quickest.
Chaz Davies (ParkinGO BE1 Triumph) remains fifth, and Fujiwara’s teammate Broc Parkes is sixth. Massimo Roccoli (Intermoto Czech Honda) and Mark Aitchison (Kuja Racing Honda) are the final two front row starters.