Aruba Ducati’s Chaz Davies laid the groundwork with front-end setup tweaks at the Imola WorldSBK round yesterday and stormed to pole position with a new outright lap record in qualifying this morning.
Davies was four-tenths under his own best lap with a 1’45.180 to take top spot away from reigning champion Jonathan Rea who had set a 1’45.307 after formation flying with team-mate Leon Haslam who finished on row two.
Runaway series leader Alvaro Bautista, on the sister Panigale V4R to Davies, completed the front row but is nine-tenths down on the Welshman as he continues to struggle for pace in the second half of the parkland track.
An improving Haslam was 1.108 seconds behind Davies and just ahead of his fellow countryman Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) in fifth, who still looked ill last night after two days of throwing up.
Tom Sykes (BMW) placed sixth, with his team-mate Markus Reiterberger just one place behind.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) secured eighth place on the grid with a late charge that put independent rider Jordi Torres (Pedercini Kawasaki) back to ninth, but still on row three.
The top ten was rounded out by a determined Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) after an incident-packed three part Superpole in which two red flags were shown.
An oil plume after an exploding Barni Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi saw him finally crash at Villeneuve and a double crash shortly after the restart from Leon Camier (Moriwaki Honda) and Cortese both off at Tamburello just as a second red flag was shown.
Eugene Laverty’s stand-in Tommy Bridewell, who only got a handful of laps in free practice three this morning, finished in 16th, less than half a second behind Ryuichi Kionari.