Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes notched the 16th World Superbike
pole position of his career in Round 6 of 2013 at Portimao, edging out Aprilia Racing’s Eugene Laverty by one-thousandth of a second. Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea maintained his quick pace at the Portuguese circuit, earning a front row start in third.
Though clouds loomed overhead at the start of Superpole, track conditions remained dry and the standard three session format commenced with Laverty, Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz and Rea posting fast laps in the opening minutes. Laverty’s teammate, Sylvain Guintoli, and Sykes got into the mix mid-session as well, each rider enjoying time at the top of the timesheet, but as the racers completed their final laps it was BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Chaz Davies who came flying across the finish in first. Davies appeared to have it in the bag until FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel finished his final lap, edging out the BMW rider for one of his first appearances at the top of the board with a quick 1’42.440.
A small amount of precipitation at Portimao caused officials to red flag proceedings just a few minutes into SP2 and the session was changed to a 20-minute wet contest for spots in the first four rows on the grid. In an effort to prepare for the worst, most riders went out on a qualifying tire first thing once the wet session was underway. The improved performance afforded by the qualifying tire and urgency many felt as rain hovered on the horizon were immediately apparent as Rea and Laverty jumped quickly into the 1’41 range. Sykes, meanwhile, went out on a race tire in the opening minutes and held back until mid-session before pushing for his best lap. The Kawasaki ace logged a 1’41.360 once he switched tires, improving the best lap record he set at the circuit in 2012 by one-tenth of a second. Soon after, Laverty went on a tear around the course and appeared to be on pace to bump Sykes from the top, but he came in just a fraction of a second behind with a 1’41.361.
Davies’ teammate, Marco Melandri, will head up the second row from fourth, followed by current points leader and teammate
to Laverty, Sylvain Guintoli. Baz finished SP2 in sixth.
Team Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa posted the seventh-fastest time. The Spaniard looked strong on the Panigale, rocketing from 12th to first-place at one point in SP1. He ultimately finished the first session in third. Cluzel will start from eighth on the grid followed by Red Devils Roma’s Michel Fabrizio in ninth. Checa’s teammate, Ayrton Badovini, scored 10th on the grid followed by Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano and Davies, who qualified in 11th and 12th respectively.
Though the physically demanding and difficult track proved tricky for many, Davies and Giugliano were the only riders to go down during the day. Davies’ fall came in the practice session prior to Superpole, where he went over the front of the bike coming out of a turn and down a descent. Though he went skidding down the track on his back for a good clip, the BMW rider walked away without any serious injury. Giugliano’s crash came early in SP2, but it was much less dramatic and he was able to pick the bike up and ride back to the garage.
World Superbike Portimao Superpole Results 2013:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’41.360
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’41.361
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’41.787
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’42.115
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’42.209
6. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’42.328
7. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’42.405
8. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 1’42.645
9. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’43.032
10. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati) 1’43.057
11. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’43.314
12. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1’43.463
13. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’43.139
14. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1’43.522
15. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 1’44.038
16. Vittorio Iannuzzo (BMW) 1’45.208
17. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki) 1’45.361
18. Ivan Clementi (BMW) 1’45.607
19. Federico Sandi (Kawasaki) 1’47.322