It was sort of fitting that American Doug Polen handed Kawasaki's Tom Sykes his award for setting the fastest lap in qualifying at Laguna's World Superbike event today.
Because when he dropped the hammer in Superpole, Sykes looked more than a little like a Doug Polen in WSBK circa 1991.
For much of today's faster Superpole qualifying session it seemed that observers had grown accustomed to the notion that Sylvain Guintoli's fast lap of 1:22.339 would give him the pole. Was, Guintoli, a former 250 and MotoGP rider, as shocked as most observers when Sykes dropped a devastatingly fast 1:21.811 on us? The Frenchman's always poker face didn't reveal much.
"Superpole didn't go badly," Guintoli said. "Unfortunately Sykes put in a very fast lap."
In the early 1990s Polen--on a Ferracci Ducati (with NCR Ducati mechanics)--became renown in WSBK for his ability to muster a dominant performance that came--seemingly--from no where. Polen could pull a half second gap in qualifying that no one else in WSBK could even come close to finding.
Observers looked on in shock after Sykes' lap time was displayed on monitors and computer screens. He was only about seven-tenths slower than Stefan Bradl's '13 Laguna Seca MotoGP pole time. That on a maybe 240 horsepower factory Honda prepared prototype.
Sykes said, "We put the Pirelli qualifying tyre in and I had a little stab at it ... but we put a great lap time together and I'm happy."