BRIT Tom Sykes pinched pole position for Saturday’s afternoon’s opening race of the World Superbike series, clocking the fastest time late in qualifying at Phillip Island.
The Kawasaki Racing rider recorded a last-lap time of 1min 30.099 sec, edging out Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty by 0.24 seconds and Marco Melandri on a Ducati third.
Sykes, the 2013 world champion, has never won at Phillip Island. The Yorkshireman’s best finishes were third placings in 2012 and last year.
His Kawasaki teammate, Jonathan Rea, the defending champion and winner of five of the last six races at the island, was sixth was will start from the second row.
The session was interrupted by a series of crashes as Lorenzo Savadori, who was fastest in Friday’s practice, went down at Turn 6 bringing out the red flag, and then Leon Camier, Xavi Torres and then Alex Lowes all went down.
Lowes still qualified fourth ahead on the Yamaha, as four different manufacturers filled the top spots. Chaz Davies on a Ducati was fifth.
The best Australian qualifier was wildcard Glenn Maxwell who was 16th and was quicker than four WSBK team entrants.