World Superbike: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Photo Gallery

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes on pole for Sunday’s double-header.

Tom Sykes race action shot

World Champion Tom Sykes set a blistering pace in Saturday's Superpole 2, capping the session with a tremendous pole-winning circuit best lap of 1:21.811 seconds. The Kawasaki rider was a half-second quicker than Sylvain Guintoli aboard the first of two factory Aprilias. Ducati's Chaz Davies will also start from the front row.

“When we pulled the Pirelli qualifier out, well, dear me, all hell broke loose,” Sykes said after his 23rd career Superpole win. “I just let the old girl have it. I’m looking forward to two good races. I’m sure it’s going to be tight with many riders, but at least I’m starting in the correct position.”

While Mazda Raceway’s Corkscrew often gets the headlines, Sykes said turn 1, with its blind, 165-mph entry, produces the most “brown-trouser” moments. Cresting the hill—the fastest point on the racetrack—with the throttle open could cause the tires to lose the grip they need to continue around the corner.

Guintoli was clearly impressed with Sykes’ quick lap. “Tom pulled a rabbit out of the hat,” he said. “A 1:21.8? C’mon! The front row is what counts. On a track as twisty as this one, getting out front as soon as possible is essential. I think we’ll see two very close and exciting races.”

This is Davies’ second consecutive front-row start. He also qualified third one week ago at Portimao. “Two in a row is a bit unusual for me,” he said, “but it’s especially important at a tight track like Laguna. We have good race pace, although there are maybe six riders who are looking strong, so it won’t be easy. We’re all so close in terms of times.”

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