Sykes And Kawasaki Set The Fastest Ever SBK Top Speed
May 5, 2012
At Monza today Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) just missed out on his fourth pole position start in a row but his Ninja ZX-10R powered him to the highest top speed ever recorded in SBK, 339.5kmph.
Sykes was fast all weekend irrespective of the ever-changing track conditions and will start second
on the grid and this will be the first time he has not started from pole this season. Weather conditions on the opening day were largely perfect but Saturday saw rains come and go, and the day finished off with lighting storms close to the track and very heavy downpours after the Superpole sessions had been concluded.
The only dry qualifying session was on Friday, so Tom qualified for Superpole – conducted in two parts not the usual three as it was declared a Wet Superpole – thanks to his Friday time. He then went on to head the second free practice session this afternoon, then just miss out on the chance to use a slick rear in the final Superpole session, which may have promoted him from second on the grid to first.
Sykes still starts from an enviable front row position, while his riding partner at Monza, Sergio Gadea, found his first taste of SBK racing very challenging, particularly in the unpredictable weather conditions, but he qualified for the races on Sunday and will start 23rd on the grid.
Team Pedercini rider David Salom made it into Superpole and will start 15th on the grid, while his team-mate Leandro Mercado was 21st.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki Superstock 1000 FIM Cup rider Bryan Staring fell in final qualifying and broke both his small fingers. Despite qualifying fifth on the grid Bryan may not be able to race after more extensive medical checks have been carried out. Jeremy Guarnoni, his team-mate, was 10th in qualifying. Loris Baz took his MRS Kawasaki to 12th place.
Tom Sykes: “When I hit the new record top speed I could feel that the rpm was higher and I knew from the note of the engine that it was more than on previous laps. I could not have timed my run to get into Biaggi’s slipstream any better. I had a fantastic run out of Parabolica and I used Max’s draft all the way down the straight. If we had more time we could have come back in and gone with a slick rear or intermediate rear and made the difference, but it wasn’t to be. We did a great last lap on wet tyres and starting from second on the grid is not too bad. It is a front row start and that is the main thing. The competitive side of me for sure is disappointed not to keep the run of Superpole wins going but tomorrow is the one that counts. It’s great for Kawasaki and myself to be on the front row and it is a lot better starting slot for tomorrow. We have good pace in the dry and I do not think the wet will be an issue either. A dry race would be better for everybody.”
Sergio Gadea: ”I am happy because the bike is good but it is my first time in Monza, first time on a Superbike and obviously the weather has made it more complicated for me. But it is a nice experience and I enjoy riding the bike so much. I hope tomorrow to improve my performance and also enjoy the races. Thanks to Kawasaki and the team for giving me this opportunity.”
David Salom: “I’m happy with how the morning qualifying session and afternoon free practice went. The bike is working very well and we found a good setup for the dry track. In the afternoon free session, using slick tyres on a dry track, I reached fifth position and this is a great result. Unfortunately in the first session of the Superpole I used rain tyres but the track was not completely wet and after only two laps the rear tyre was finished and so I wasn’t able to reach Superpole two.”
Tati Mercado: “This morning I chose not to participate in the second qualifying session due to the damp conditions. The track was not completely dry and so it was impossible for me to improve on yesterday’s lap time and enter the Superpole. In the free practice preceding the Superpole I worked with my technicians to refine the set up of my Ninja ZX-10R and we found some good solutions for tomorrow’s races. The races will be difficult for me, because of my position on the grid, but I will try to do my best as races.”