Sunday, May 26



KAWASAKI's Tom Sykes has bettered Dani Pedrosa's outright motorcycle lap records at England's Donington Park in practice and qualifying for the fifth round of the Eni Superbike World Championship on May 26.

Sykes' 1m 28.330s effort in the second free practice session before Superpole bettered Pedrosa's MotoGP lap record, set on a Michelin-shod 145 kg Repsol Honda RC211V, the mighty 990cc V5 grand prix racer.  

Pedrosa's MotoGP lap record, set in his rookie 2006 season, stands at 1m 28.714s.

Sykes used the Provec Kawasaki ZX-10R to good effect at Donington as he overcame a rain-effected opening day's practice to blaze off no less than 11 laps in the 1m 28s bracket on the afternoon of the second day of Superbike practice - with all but four of those laps bettering Pedrosa's MotoGP race lap record.

Pedrosa set that MotoGP lap record on July 2, 2006 on his way to beating Valentino Rossi to win the British GP - the Spaniard's first MotoGP win.  Rounding out the top four that day were Marco Melandri in third place and Casey Stoner in fourth.

That Sykes was able to outpace the MotoGP lap record on a 168 kg modified showroom production bike speaks volumes to how far Superbikes have progressed in the past few years, and also highlights just how far Sykes has developed as a rider since his Superbike World Championship debut alongside Ben Spies in the Yamaha team in 2009.

Sykes set that string of sub-MotoGP lap times on Pirelli race tyres on Saturday afternoon in free practice before the Superpole sessions that set the grid positions for Sundays' races.

But Sykes was far from done.

In the first Superpole session he topped the timing monitors with a 1m 28.194s best effort, well outside the MotoGP pole position record of 1m 27.676s also set by Dani Pedrosa on the V5 Honda in 2006.

But Sykes had not used either of his two qualifying tyres in the first Superpole session.  He was keeping his powder dry.

In the second Superpole session, on his first flying lap Sykes scorched around in 1m 27.560s to better Pedrosa's MotoGP qualifyng record, with the Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli second and third fastest.  

Sykes was looking good to pocket his tenth Tissot watch for a Superbike pole and in the third and final Superpole session he led eight other riders in a battle to decide the front three rows of the grid, with at least one bike from each of the six manufacturers involved in Superbike racing represented.

Sykes relegated them to also-rans as he blasted out a 1m 27.491s effort then, warming to his task, blitzed the field to stop the clocks at 1m 27.378s - almost three tenths of a second under Pedrosa'S 2006 MotoGP pole record.

That was a mighty effort from the Kawasaki man.

But what of Marco Melandri, who was on that MotoGP podium at Donington back in July 2006?

Now in his third season of Superbike racing, the Italian ended up on the outside of the second row for Sunday's Superbike races on his BMW GoldBet S1000RR, with a best effort of 1m 28.280s.

That compares to his 1m 28.205s qualifying effort on the Fortuna Honda V5 in 2006.

For the complete Donington Superbike Superpole results, click here