Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes followed up his top of the time-sheets in practice by taking a dominant pole-position in the new Formula-1 style qualifying session at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire yesterday - while team mate Atsushi Watanabe posted a season's best eighth.
In the new three-tier qualifying system, Sykes was always in contention at the top and easily made it through to the final 10-minute shoot-out contested by the 10 fastest riders. In warm sunshine he saved his best to last, setting the fastest lap of the weekend on his penultimate effort - nearly a quarter of a second ahead of the next rider - before sliding off unhurt at the chicane on his final lap. It is his second pole-position of the season, repeating his feat from Mallory Park in June.
Watanabe got into the final 10 by finishing ninth in the second eliminator and he posted his best lap of the weekend in the final session, taking him up to eighth. Normally that would be the second row of the grid but the riders will line up only three abreast because of the narrow nature of the 2.18-mile picturesque track and he will be on the third row.A bumper crowd is expected for the Bank Holiday Monday race schedule, with Superbike race one starting at 1345 and race two at 1630.
"That was a pretty good qualifying session and I have to be happy with my second pole position of the season. The new qualifying format certainly makes it all-action and we didn't have much of break to think; it was a case of get out on track and give it your all."We did a bit of work on the steering and brakes during the first eliminator as we were safely through and found a little bit of an improvement. To be honest, my Rizla Suzuki is working well and I am confident, I can't wait for the races to start and I want to see if we can add to the tally of wins."
"I am happy with my lap time but made some mistakes. I'm still learning this track; it is not the easiest with many hills and narrow Tarmac but I like it anyway."I feel recharged for racing after my podium at the Suzuka eight hour race and visit home to Japan. I want a strong finish to the season - to show British fans what Atsu can really achieve."
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"I am chuffed to bits with Tom's performance. He is riding really well, supported by a fantastic team and riding a well-sorted Rizla Suzuki race bike. This is the real Tom Sykes - and the real Rizla Suzuki that everyone is seeing right now.
"Atsu I am really pleased with; he is showing his best form at a difficult technical track and his potential is clear. He has a great starting position and we will be looking for fireworks from him in the races.
"The new qualifying format was a breath of fresh air for riders, the team and fans. It certainly kept us on our toes and I think it was really exciting, I hope it continues for the rest of the season."
1: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) 1:27.4952: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1:27.7163: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:27.8704: Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:27.9175: Leon Camier (Ducati) 1:28.4286: Michael Rutter (Ducati) 1:28.5027: Karl Harris (Yamaha) 1:28.8448: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) 1:28.8609: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) 1:29.00010: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) 1:29.228.