Sykes quickest at Magny-Cours
Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes made a great start to the final round of the World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours as he looks to upset the odds and win his first title.
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The Briton topped the timesheets with a fastest lap of one minute 38.200 seconds in the first qualifying practice session on Friday, with title favourite Max Biaggi down in seventh place for Aprilia.
Biaggi is currently 30.5 points clear of Sykes at the head of the riders' standings and the Italian has never finished outside of the top six at the French track.
Sykes, 27, won the opening race at the last round in Portimao and knows he will need to perform well this weekend if he is to stand any chance of catching Biaggi and collecting his maiden World Superbike crown.
The only other rider in the field who can mathematically claim the title is BMW's Marco Melandri.
The 30-year-old is also targeting his first title and finished third in the session, 0.542 seconds behind Sykes.
Carlos Checa split Sykes and Melandri to claim second while his Althea Racing team-mate Davide Giugliano put his Ducati in fourth.
Biaggi was beaten into seventh by Honda's Jonathan Rea and the BMW of Michel Fabrizio but will be expecting to improve during Saturday's Superpole.