Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes took a hard-fought third place at Oulton Park for round seven of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship while his team-mate Atsushi Watanabe came home in 13th position.
The 50-minute qualifying session started off in damp conditions but the 2.69-mile Cheshire circuit dried rapidly. Sykes was always in contention for pole position and led the time-sheets for much of the session, showing he has real race-winning pace. Watanabe used his previous experience at Oulton Park to maintain his top 15 placing and will be aiming for a top-10 finish when the racing starts in anger.
Race one will take place at 1315 on Sunday and race two at 1630.
"I think I could have been a little further up if I hadn't been caught up in traffic at the end of the session but third place and the front row of the grid is fine as I know I can get away well. During free practice we worked our way through a number of wet settings and we have made some progress getting the bike nicely balanced for racing in the rain if it comes tomorrow.
"In the dry there is still a bit of work to be done as the front end is feeling a little vague at a couple of corners and I want the bike to be doing the work rather than me. I can put in consistent 1min 36s which is a good race pace so I feel confident ahead of tomorrow's races."
"I am happy I have improved since last Oulton Park. My lap times are better and my feeling for the track. My Rizla Suzuki technicians worked hard on rear settings to improve how my bike feels as it had a lot of movement. I want a good finish tomorrow for me and my team."
Pete Jennings - Crew Chief:
"Tom did get baulked towards the end of the session which was a shame but his race pace is good, and we have a few little changes to make ahead of race day which we will evaluate during warm-up."
1: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1:36.2982: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.2923: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) +0.2934: Leon Haslam (Honda) +0.5235: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +0.5336: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +0.8077: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +1.0738: James Ellison (Honda) +1.2609: Tristan Palmer (Honda) +1.50210: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +1.54213: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) +1.754