Sykes On Row Two At Blistering Brno

July 9, 2011

WSBK, Brno, Czech Republic, 9 July 2011 - Tom Sykes flew the Kawasaki flag highest in qualifying and superpole at Brno, finally ending up eighth overall and on the second row of the grid for Sunday’s 20-lap Superbike World Championship races.

Sykes had also been eighth in combined qualifying and continued to be competitively fast even when he had qualifying tyres fitted in Superpole Two. A change of front tyre before Superpole One meant he had to use both his qualifying rears earlier than he wanted to and he could not put in a final challenge for the front row starting spots in Superpole Three.

Track temperatures got to over 50 degrees Celcius during superpole and Sykes had expected he would have to work hard to ensure he had a good machine set up in these conditions. Thanks to positive work from both the team and the rider strong pace was found on both qualifying and race tyres.

Early falls for both Joan Lascorz and Chris Vermeulen on Friday determined much of their subsequent practice results, with Lascorz 19th and Vermeulen 20th in combined qualifying, and both missing out on a Superpole place. It will be tough for them both in the early race laps at Brno on Sunday, but the great width of this track and the many chicanes along its 5.403km length mean that there will be plenty of opportunities for overtaking.

Kawasaki Pedercini Team rider Mark Aitchison has another strong superpole showing, taking his Ninja ZX-10R to 11th in a field of 22 riders. His team-mate Roberto Rolfo was 18th in qualifying.

Tom Sykes: “Overall, not too bad because our target is always to get on the front two rows. Our hand got forced and we had to use a qualifier in Superpole one that was not in our script! We put a hard front tyre in thinking we should be OK but the tyre would not dig in and grip and make the apex the way we wanted it to and I almost lost the front a couple of times. In Superpole Two when we tried another option of front tyre and another rear qualifier, everybody saw what we could do. The boys are working hard and I am digging in and we managed to put it on the second row of the grid. Tomorrow is another day and we will keep chipping away and hopefully we can have a bit of a surprise like Misano and Aragon. We were pole and second row there, and were running top five in the races. I just need something I have not quite mastered on this bike yet, a good clean start. If we get that I am confident that I can get away and be top five or six again.”

Joan Lascorz: “It has been difficult because I crashed in free practice in the morning yesterday and in the afternoon in qualifying I did not have a good result. I changed the settings for today and we improved the rear shock and in the end I put on a new set of tyres to do a fast time. Then we had a little problem with the filter in the fuel tank being a little blocked, so I could not make the time I wanted to. I missed out on Superpole so it will be difficult because of my starting position but there are some places to pass here at Brno.”

Chris Vermeulen: “I fell in the first session yesterday and I landed on my same elbow I had injured previously. It has swollen up quite a lot. There is no major damage and the doctors said I can ride but it will be painful. I also landed on my back, which is quite stiff and sore. We started one session behind because my bike was damaged in the Friday crash and we could not get it fixed in time to go out again. Yesterday afternoon it went well and the times came a bit better. Today we have not been able to improve the bike to get that next half-second, which is what I need to get into that next group ahead.”

Mark Aitchison: “Our bike seems to work best when we have a lot of tyre grip. There is a lot of transfer of weight when we have the grip and this helps our situation a lot. When we have less grip there is less transfer and less feeling from the bike. That is what we are trying to understand more fully now. We have changed a few things this weekend and we also changed the settings for Superpole. We are trying something different every time and finding improvements.”