Chris Martin (@ChrisMartinSBK)
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes lived up to his reputation as the modern era's "King of Superpole" by securing his 37th career WorldSBK pole today with a blistering 1'22.155 lap around Laguna Seca.
Despite his sterling history at the northern California circuit -- including a prior pole and two wins -- Sykes had been somewhat overlooked ahead of the Superpole session with most observer's tracking his teammate Jonathan Rea, Ducati's '15 double-winner Chaz Davies, or home-track hero Nicky Hayden.
After all, Sykes had struggled during practice and much of qualifying. However, once the super-sticky Pirelli qualifying rubber was fit to his ZX-10R, the former series champ instantly rediscovered his one-lap form to pip Rea for pole by a scant 0.055 seconds.
Despite claiming pole, Sykes admits there's still some work to be done ahead of this afternoon's Race 1. "I feel we're getting closer to where we need to be," he said. "Qualifying was good. We had a small issue w the race tire in the run before but we put the qualifying tire in and I was fairly happy... Now it's time to make a couple changes for the race, but overall I think we're ready to go racing."
Laguna Seca is one of the few circuits on the tour defending World Superbike champ Rea has yet to be victorious, but he's quickly made himself a favorite this weekend. The Kawasaki ace has ripped off long strings of fast laps all weekend long and only narrowly missed claiming pole himself.
"The team given me a great bike this weekend," Rea said. "This is the first time I've honestly felt really good here at Laguna. The priority today was a front-row start. I saw my lap time and thought that might be enough to do it, but my teammate came along and was just that fraction of a second faster. Hopefully, we can make a good start from the front row and run my rhythm from there."
Aruba.it Ducati's Davide Giugliano scored a minor upset with his 1:22.479 lap, displacing Davies (fourth) and Hayden (sixth) to Row 2. The two former AMA pilots will bookend fifth-quick Xavi Fores on the satellite Barni Racing Ducati.
Row 3 adds a bit of additional color to the grid with Jordi Torres representing BMW, Lorenzo Savadori on an Aprilia, and Pata-sub Niccolo Canepa aboard a factory Yamaha.
Race 1 will air live on beIN SPORTS this afternoon at 5:20pm Eastern.