Sykes Takes First Pole For 2011 Ninja ZX-10R

June 11, 2011

WSBK, Misano, Republic of San Marino, 11 June 2011 - Tom Sykes proved the master of wet conditions at Misano to overcome his rivals and win the first Superpole prize for the awesome Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in only its sixth competitive WSBK race weekend.

Tom had been seventh fastest after the dry combined qualifying sessions had been completed and when the rains appeared just as Superpole One was due to start, Tom and his Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike crew made good set-up choices and Tom was second quickest at that point. He repeated that feat once again in Superpole Two, then kept his best for last to head Superpole three and secure the best possible starting place for Sunday’s 24-lap WSBK races.

This was the second time that Tom has scored a pole position start, both in his WSBK career and for Kawasaki, as he took top slot at the Imola round last year in similar conditions, on the 2010 model Ninja ZX-10R machine. Sykes now hopes to get off the start line cleanly and head the field into the first corners at this generally tight and twisty circuit located close to the Adriatic coast.

Wet Superpole was not so kind to fourth fastest qualifier in the pre-Superpole session, Joan Lascorz. The Kawasaki Racing Team rider was eventually 12th, and will start the races from the third row, having made it into Superpole Two. He had been fourth in combined qualifying, before Superpole started, overcoming some set-up issues he experienced through qualifying.

Chris Vermeulen got back into action and lapped the tight and twisty Misano circuit at a more than respectable pace in his comeback race. His ranking in the time sheets, 22nd, hides the fact that he was only 1.611 seconds from the dry race pre-qualifying best lap. His best lap time was only a second from fourth place in combined qualifying.

Pedercini Team Kawasaki riders Roberto Rolfo and Mark Aitchison were 21st and 23rd fastest respectively, sandwiching Vermeulen in the time sheets.

Tom Sykes: “That just makes it a little bit sweeter for me, having struggled to get a good dry set-up at some points this weekend. I took this pole in exactly the same conditions as last year at Imola. I want to give massive credit to Kawasaki Racing and Paul Bird Motorsport, because in those conditions we have a strong electronics package and that helped us today. Conditions we so slippery and we found the maximum. Tomorrow is another day but I am optimistic. I want to get a good start and go as fast as I can for 24 laps. I want to have a top six again, like in America, and today’s Superpole win was just a kind of added extra.”

Joan Lascorz: “In dry conditions in the morning session today I set a good lap time but I was not as comfortable as I wanted to be and I crashed at one point. I wanted to be faster and more comfortable while setting good lap times today, and I managed to set a good lap time this morning for sure. In the wet of Superpole I could not find the grip I wanted when I opened the throttle, so that held me back a little. I hope for two good races tomorrow, and dry weather.”

Chris Vermeulen: “It has been good to come back to a race situation for all of us. We have a little bit of work to do with the bike and the times are so close here. We have improved every session and my gap to the front has been getting closer. It’s only 1.6 to the front after dry qualifying but only a second up to fourth place. It is very tight and I just need a little bit more confidence. Kawasaki has been working hard and the improvements can be seen because of Joan and Tom, but we just need to get a base setting and an understanding of the bike from our side."