Sykes On The Front Row For Imola Races

September 24, 2011

WSBK, Imola, Italy, 24 September 2011 - Tom Sykes headed combined qualifying on his Ninja ZX-10R at Imola before ending up fourth on the grid after posting strong performances through all three Superpole qualifying sessions.

Nürburgring race winner Sykes carried on his good run of form from the first day at Imola, aided by a recent dry weather test at Misano. The English rider's pace has been good on both race and qualifying tyres, building his confidence for race day at one of his all-time favourite circuits.

Joan Lascorz found the nature of the Imola circuit difficult to match his machine settings to, and thus qualified 18th, just missing out on a place in Superpole by a fraction of a second. He was still only 1.386 seconds from Sykes after combined qualifying at this near 5km long circuit. Joan and his crew found improvements in the final afternoon free practice session and he hopes to make great improvements in his final placings on raceday.

Roberto Rolfo and Mark Aitchison (Kawasaki Pedercini Team) had tough times in qualifying, with Aitchison 17th and also out of Superpole. Rolfo was 21st, although only 1.869 seconds from Sykes after combined qualifying. Rolfo also suffered a crash today but the popular Italian rider will be fit to race on Sunday.

Tom Sykes: “We had some success in Germany with a win at the last round but wet conditions are a great levelling factor, and I had a good package to work with as well. The test we did at Misano recently was also good in the dry. We confirmed some geometry and chassis settings there that we had been trying out and I was considerably faster than the race at Misano this year. We kept those settings on the bike and came here with minimal changes, and it all shows that we are getting there now. The 1’47.799 I did to lead combined qualifying this morning I was happy with, as it was done on a relatively hard race tyre. We are not in a bad situation. After Superpole Two I was quite confident to get pole position but I think we had reached our limit. A front row place in dry conditions is another step forward for all of us in the team. We also got away with using a race tyre in Superpole One so that was a refreshing change.”

Joan Lascorz: “We were much better in this afternoon session and it would have been a good enough time to get into Superpole. We had problems stopping the bike because of the settings at one stage and of course it was even worse as there are some downhill braking areas here too. We made the bike a little bit longer to help this and also to help us not wheelie so much. Normally I run the bike shorter than Tom but not at this track. Tomorrow will be complicated as it is difficult to pass here but I hope I can overtake many riders in the early laps.”