2014 Laguna Seca World Superbike Superpole Results: Fruity At The Corkscrew

Unlike the usual schedule, with limited pit space causing the absence of World Supersport and requiring all manner of logistical shifts, all three timed qualifying sessions took place on the Friday, with the entries to Superpole decided yesterday.

Loris Baz opened up the session with a 1'24.325, leaving Sylvain Barrier who was hoping for a tow, in his wake. He improved that to a 1'24.038 and, on his third lap, ran wide and dropped his bike into the sandbox at turn six. Baz limped his bike back to the pits and he waited to see if his eight tenths lead would last the remaining eight minutes and if the team could get his bike cleaned up for the second session he hoped to take part in.

With the qualifying tyres coming out, Baz's lead didn't last long, and he had to take his rapidly checked and cleaned bike back out as he saw Niccolò Canepa and Sylvain Barrier knock him out of contention. His first lap on the qualifier, he regained his top spot and on his second lap, he solidified it with a 1'23.471 and would be joined in the second session with Niccolò Canepa.

Sylvain Guintoli set the pace in the second session, with a 1'23.233 and four other riders within a tenth of a second. At the halfway mark, everyone pulled into the pits and put a qualifying tyre on.

Davide Giugliano was the first to put in a lap with the faster rubber on, and a 1'22.422 set the outright lap record and held it for about a minute until Sylvain Guintoli took it off him.

However, it fell to Tom Sykes to really shift the goalposts. A smooth and controlled lap on a qualifying tyre put him in pole position by over half a second with a 1'21.811, firing a shot across everyone's bows.

Tom Sykes was joined on the front row by Sylvain Guintoli and, for the second weekend in a row, Chaz Davies. 

"The ninja got a bit fruity on me down the corkscrew." Tom Sykes on his record-breaking lap. 


Superpole Two

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Gap Speed
1 1 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'21.811   254,0
2 50 S. GUINTOLI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'22.339 0.528 255,8
3 7 C. DAVIES Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'22.384 0.573 250,4
4 34 D. GIUGLIANO Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'22.422 0.611 249,8
5 33 M. MELANDRI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'22.704 0.893 252,2
6 58 E. LAVERTY Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'22.725 0.914 254,0
7 91 L. HASLAM Honda CBR1000RR 1'23.181 1.370 253,4
8 76 L. BAZ Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'23.242 1.431 248,7
9 24 T. ELIAS Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'23.358 1.547 251,0
10 65 J. REA Honda CBR1000RR 1'23.501 1.690 255,8
11 22 A. LOWES Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'23.562 1.751 249,2
12 59 N. CANEPA Ducati 1199 Panigale R EVO 1'23.924 2.113 249,8

Superpole One

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Gap Speed
1 76 L. BAZ Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'23.471   247,5
2 59 N. CANEPA Ducati 1199 Panigale R EVO 1'23.566 0.095 247,5
3 52 S. BARRIER BMW S1000 RR EVO 1'23.840 0.369 243,6
4 2 C. IDDON Bimota BB3 EVO 1'24.024 0.553 243,6
5 44 D. SALOM Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'24.227 0.756 246,4
6 86 A. BADOVINI Bimota BB3 EVO 1'24.301 0.830 245,8
7 67 B. STARING Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'24.986 1.515 240,3
8 32 S. MORAIS Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'25.021 1.550 240,8
9 19 L. CAMIER MV Agusta F4 RR 1'25.157 1.686 245,8
10 21 A. ANDREOZZI Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'25.383 1.912 241,9


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That was pretty fast from Sykes, apparently good enough for 8th on the grid on MotoGP at Laguna last year (yes it's comparing apples with oranges).

I'd love to see Sykes on the right bike in MotoGP to see where his level is compared with those guys*; but to some extent he's become the big fish in the medium sized pond and may not fancy going to the big pond.

* I suspect it would be around the level that CC#35 was last year - pushing for podiums when 1 or 2' aliens' failed to finish.

Sykes has improved and that was a great lap, but superbike riders have to be able to go up another level when they go to GP, as Cal himself has mentioned a lot. They also need to be able to adapt to the stiffness of the GP chassis and tyres which have less feel but a higher limit, and many superbike riders just can't.

Although it's been a few years (and indeed he's improved) Sykes was Spies teammate at Yamaha in WSBK and he was clearly heads-and-tails above Sykes and most of the rest... and look how Spies did in the end in MotoGP (forgetting his last year and a half). Moving from WSBK to MotoGP and being competitive with the aliens -- well, that's not likely I'm afraid.

2009 (YZF-R1) Spies won the WSBK title with ~14 wins, and 3 other podiums
2010 (YZF-R1) Cal 3 wins and 7 other podiums

How did Cal become competitive with the Aliens despite not achieving close to what Spies did? How did Spies become competitive with the Aliens?

Sykes has matured plenty as a rider, he's faster and has more racecraft than earlier in his career, and the Kwaka has been somewhat built around his feedback.

I'm not saying or believing he'd go there and in his rookie season pull up trees or anything, but Cal made the transition on the Tech3. And from the comfort of being outside of either paddock, I'd say that Sykes today looks like a better, more intelligent rider (and the WSBK results support that).

I'd expect him, given a Tech3 level of equipment and 1-2 seasons of adjustment to be where Cal was when at Tech3 -pushing for podiums whenever the factory Aliens failed to finish.

I think that's going a bit too far with Crutchlow. He was competitive with Dovi, but in the end Dovi beat him convincingly at Tech 3. On the Ducati Dovi is destroying him.

Spies showed promise, but in the end he was never fully competitive with the aliens even on the title winning bike. He himself admitted that.

The list of superbike riders who have never done much in GP is looong. Including title winners like Foggy, Bayliss, Edwards, Toseland, Hodgson and Spies. Not to mention Haga and Crutchlow and and so forth. Where on the other hand ex GP riders have been immediate title contenders in superbike. My personal opinion is that I don't see anything in the likes of Sykes or Rea that sets them above some of the previously mentioned names. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see them get the opportunity but if I was a team manager I wouldn't be looking for a guy who's spent most of his career in Superbike.

.. around this track is massive. Would be very surprised if anyone can take the fight to Sykes in the race with that kind of gap.

Disappointed not to see any Wildcards at a round where they always featured well (remember Gobert on the Ducati?) - hopefully that will change with the forthcoming evo class rules...

I wish. I loved the days of fast locals taking it to the World guys.
It's the single tire supplier that killed the wild cards. The EVO rules wont' change anything.
The only reason you see BSB guys run as wild cards is BSB is a Pirelli series while the US is a Dunlop series.
Single tire supplier sucks for all series, but mostly for the race watching fans.

Too far with Cal? Last season he was (when he didn't bin it) competitive with the aliens. some of the podium positions he grabbed were at the expense of an alien but generally whenever an alien failed to finish.

Cal took until his third season before he got how to ride a motogp bike. Yes Dovi got better results in 2012 but Cal was often all over his exhaust looking for ways past -he just hadn't figured the motogp bike thing out at that stage.

Last season Cal pushed to be best of the rest, and that's where I think his level was (the Ducati can ruin anyone's chances).

Given I believe Sykes is a better rider than Cal, why should I not think he could perform at the best of the rest level (once a period of adjustment had taken place)?

Its fair too say that WSBK rider still have a loong way to be able competitive with GP aliens -history exactly proved that.. I do eager to see best WSBK rider fight with GP aliens sometimes in future -I really hope Sykes rocket times is an indicator that WSBK pace is closing to GP, though I would like to see more shaven times around other tracks to justify that assumption... it is 'technology' who really separate the class.. imagine GP rider who used to ride prototype bike to the limit, with massively competitive times, forced to do every tricks finding those tenths, then compare to WSBK bike with limited mainstream technology.. they simply not comparable... I bet the likes of Spies, Rea, Sykes will be much faster rider if starting their career in GP.