Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea stormed to pole position for today’s opening WorldSBK race in Qatar and set a new outright lap record at the Losail circuit, putting in a 1’56.228 to secure top spot in Superpole two.
The Irishman was the only man to drop under the 1’57 barrier during the first run on race rubber, opening his account with a 1’56.903 before switching to Pirelli’s qualifying tyre and opening a gap of 0.477s over the Pata Yamaha of Alex Lowes in second place.
Lowes has shown good pace on used rubber all weekend and was able to get the sticky Q-tyre to work perfectly with a 1’56.675. The former BSB champion was the only other rider to go into the 1’56s. Tom Sykes, on the second Kawasaki, was uncharaceristically off the pace, ending 0.835s behind Rea but it was enough for the outside of the front row.
Chaz Davies is challenging Sykes for second place in the championship stakes but could only muster a 1’57.645 to end 1.417s behind Rea. After free practice yesterday, Davies said he wasn’t sure about his pace with a new tyre and it proved correct, but he has speed over a race distance.
Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori recovered from his double-crash yesterday to set a 1’57.249 to head the second row and he has Xvi Fores’ Barni Ducati next to him. Eugene Laverty completes row two with a 1’57.941.
Michael van der Mark was another rider who spoke about problems on a new tyre yesteerday and that was borne out today as he ended in seventh place, just ahead of Davies. Marco Melandri suffered a technical issue with his Aruba Panigale and ended in ninth.
Sylvain Guintoli came through Superpole one to claim tenth place with Jordi Torres and Leon Camier completing row three. The MV Agusta man looked like he had a weird lump in his rear tyre as he exited pitlane for his final run and he could only muster a 1’58.174 - only four-tenths quicker than his SP1 time.