Tom Sykes has put his Rizla Suzuki firmly on the front row of the grid in third place for round three of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
The single 50-minute qualifying session was held in difficult conditions as the track was drying out following heavy rain which had fallen until just prior to the session.
Sykes's team spent the weekend honing the chassis settings on his Rizla Suzuki which paid dividends during qualifying. His team opted to run the same tyre which he intends to use on race day; this allowed Sykes to build up to his fast lap in the tricky conditions. Just as the chequered flag came out Sykes posted his fastest time sealing third place.
His team-mate Atsushi Watanabe started the session on his number one machine running wet settings. As the track was drying rapidly he came in to change to dry settings which cost him some time. Once back out on track his number one machine stopped leaving him to make his way back to pick up his second bike which he ran for the remainder of the session, working hard to achieve 17th place.
Both riders are confident for race day and have spent time on the undulating 2.69 mile track in both wet and dry conditions so they are well prepared for either. Racing takes place on Bank Holiday Monday May 5th with race one at 1300 and race two at 1530.
Tom Sykes, "I started the session on intermediate tyres but when I got on track I realised it was pretty dry. I came in changed to slicks and got back out there. I stayed on the same race tyre and posted my fastest lap on lap 20, so to pull off third place on the front row of the grid is not too shabby. I'm happy with my front row start, I just want to get away well and see what happens. I'm not bothered either way if it is wet or dry, I was second fastest this morning in the wet and third in qualifying in the dry. My Rizla Suzuki technicians have worked really hard to give me ideal setting on my Rizla Suzuki so a big thinks to them."
Atsushi Watanabe, "The conditions were difficult today as the track was drying out. It is still a new track for me so I am learning every lap. I'm not happy with 17th but I like the track and will do better in the race."
Jack Valentine, Team Manager, "I'm very pleased with today as the team did a superb job. They found a good race set-up to claim third place on a tyre that has done over race distance. I'm really looking forward to the race; we need a good start and then we should be battling for a win. Atsushi had a difficult time due to the conditions, however, but he is only just outside the top 16 and I'm confident he will pull of an improved result."