Kawasaki Racing Team rider Tom Sykes sets new lap record in Superpole before winning Race 1 in WSBK Malaysia 2016.
WSBK Malaysia 2016 went into high gear today as its Saturday program went into full swing. The first half of the day saw both the Word Superbike Championship (WSBK) and World Supersport Championship (WSSP) hitting the track for their Superpole qualifying sessions.
Stealing the show in both Superpole sessions in the premier class was British rider Tom Sykes. The Kawasaki Racing Team rider’s blistering pace in Superpole 1 saw him elevated up into Superpole 2 where he went even faster.
Sykes dominated the second session and took pole position with his fastest time of 2:02.246 astride his Kawasaki ZX-10R. Said pace sees Sykes decimating the previous lap record set in 2014 by Sylvain Guintoli, proving that the newly resurfaced and re-profiled Sepang International Circuit (SIC) being faster than its last iteration.
Joining Sykes in the front row were Sam Lowes in second and Jonathan Rea in third. Lowes, who rides the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team YZF-R1, saw his fastest time matching Guintoli’s previous record perfectly at 2:03.002. Sykes’ teammate and current WSBK championship leader Rea, on the other hand, settled for third after clocking in his best time of 2:03.021.
Ruling the supporting WSSP class’ qualifying sessions were the Kawasaki Pucetti Racing ZX-6R machines piloted by Kenan Sofuoglu and Randy Krummenacher. Sofuoglu took pole position with his best time of 2:08.055 whilst teammate Krummenacher took second with his best time of 2:08.155.
Rounding off the front row was Gino Rea after he clocked in his best of 2:08.410 astride the GRT Racimg Team MV Agusta F3 675.
However, all eyes were on the number 63 Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki ZX-6R machine ridden by home hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin. Having shown strong promise yesterday especially during the wet second practice, Fahmi went on to qualify in fifth after lapping the circuit in 2:08.475. The Malaysian rider is showing his strongest form on home soil, making him a contender to look our for during the race tomorrow.
WSBK Race 1
As soon as the lights went out at 4pm local time, the two leading Kawasaki riders stormed ahead of Lowes’ Yamaha, but it was Sykes that got the upper hand. From then on, Sykes commanded the race right until the end and won with a comfortable 5.600 seconds gap ahead of teammate Rea who finished second.
As Lowes dropped further back, rider Chaz Davies astride the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Panigale R that took the spotlight. The Brith fought off the charges of Spaniard Jordi Torres astride the Althea BMW Racimg Team S1000RR and Lowes to finish in third place.
With his win, Sykes has bagged 25 valuable championship points and now sits third in the standings with 179 points so far. Teammate Rea still leads the standings with 241 points after collecting 20 points today whilst Davies splits the two in second place with 202 points after today.
With Race 1 concluded, all attention now focuses on Race 2 scheduled to take place tomorrow on Sunday at 4pm.
WSBK Malaysia 2016’s Sunday program begins with the second races of the Malaysian Superbike Championship 2016, followed secondly by the second Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup Moto3 race before the supporting World Supersport Championship (WSSP) race takes centre stage featuring home hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
WSBK Race 1 Results