Kawasaki factory riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have produced stunning laps to seize the top two grid positions for this afternoon’s season-opening race in the 2017 Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, with Rea snatching the top spot seconds before session end.
The 15-minute Superpole qualifying session was electric, with Sykes (1:29.605) seemingly on track to secure his second successive pole position at Phillip Island before Rea (1:29.573) upstaged his teammate to snare the No. 1 spot on the grid.
Ducati pair Marco Melandri (1:29.734) and Chaz Davies (1:29.847) and Yamaha’s Alex Lowes (1:30.016) were next in line, with the top five riders all eclipsing the previous best lap around Phillip Island (1:30.020) set by Sykes in 2016.
Melandri will sit alongside Rea and Sykes on the front row for race one at 3:00pm, with Davies, Lowes and Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia, 1:30.023) on the second row.
Jordi Torres (BMW), Xavi Fores (Ducati) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta) are next line, and then it’s Michael van der Mark (Yamaha), Nicky Hayden (Honda) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW) on row four.
Fores crashed in Superpole, as did Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) who will start race one from 14th on the grid. Laverty and Rea are the only Phillip Island WorldSBK race winners in this weekend’s field.
New South Welshman Josh Brookes will start from 16th on his privately entered Yamaha.
The 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicks off at Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with the Yamaha Finance round from February 24-26, and is set to be a scorcher. Go to www.worldsbk.com.au for event information.
Tickets are available at the gate