Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli just managed to grab pole position for the two World Superbike races this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, edging out usual Superpole man Tom Sykes by 0.015 seconds as time was winding down in the third and final Superpole session. The previous WSBK lap record was quickly smashed in the first of the Superpole sessions, and it was continually dropped as the second and third sessions ran their pace (although to be fair, the last time that the World Superbike Championship visited the picturesque California circuit was back in 2004).
The action was fast and furious in final 10-minute Superpole 3 session as first substitute rider Niccolo Canepa on the Alstare Ducati shot to the top. Canepa’s reign atop the timesheets was short-lived, as Sykes soon put himself on top with consecutive record laps. Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty was looking threatening, but the Irishman crashed in Turn 3; his time was still good enough to keep him on the front row. Just when it appeared that the British rider was going to earn yet another Tissot watch, Guintoli just edged out the WSBK championship leader in the final seconds.
National Guard Jordan Suzuki team riders Roger Hayden and Danny Eslick—who were both racing in the World Superbike races instead of the AMA Pro Superbike series where they normally compete—just missed the eight-rider cut for the Superpole 3 session. Hayden will start 10th and Eslick 11th in the two races. Former AMA Superbike contender Blake Young, subbing for the injured Leon Camier on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki, was having a hard time adapting to the bike and tires after recently competing as a wild card in the MotoGP series.
Interestingly, instead of the usual WSBK weekend schedule that sees Superpole qualifying on Saturday and the two races on Sunday, race one will run at 2:00pm today, with race two running on Sunday. The AMA Pro Superbike series will also be running in conjunction with the World Superbike races, with the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series race on Saturday, and the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike and National Guard Superbike races on Sunday.
World Superbike Laguna Seca Superpole qualifying results:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia 1:22.683
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 1:22.698
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 1:22.728
4. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Ducati 1:22.824
5. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW 1:23.040
6. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia 1:23.353
7. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1:23.363
8. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki 1:24.079
9. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) Ducati 1:24.789
10. Roger Hayden (USA) Suzuki 1:24.133
11. Danny Eslick (USA) Suzuki 1:24.153
12. Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda 1:24.592
13. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Honda 1:24.212
14. Marc Aitchison (AUS) Kawasaki 1:24.364
15. Toni Elias (SPA) Aprilia 1:24.456
16. David Salom (SPA) Kawasaki 1:25.449
17. Blake Young (USA) Suzuki 1:25.661
18. Federico Sandi (ITA) Kawasaki 1:25.668
19. Vittorio Iannuzzo (ITA) BMW 1:25.975
20. Glenn Allerton (AUS) BMW 1:26.735