Jonathan Rea secured back-to-back pole positions at the start of the 2015 World Superbike Championship after denying Leon Haslam in the dying seconds of Superpole in Thailand. The British pair, who share the championship lead, renewed their thrilling rivalry from Phillip Island with just one hundredth of a second separating them but Rea ultimately prevailed for the sixth pole of his SBK career.
Alex Lowes qualified for Superpole as the quickest rider from free practice but Haslam served notice of his potential with the quickest time of the weekend in FP4 shortly before the fight for pole began. Rea was first to show his hand in SP2 although all riders were making their initial bid for pole on a race tyre, the Ulsterman clocking a 1:33.970 to lead Haslam and his own teammate Tom Sykes.
Ducati kick-started the scramble on soft tyres with Troy Bayliss using a qualifier to briefly claim a front row spot, only to be usurped by his teammate Chaz Davies. Neither could match the pace of the Kawasakis on a race tyre though and when the Kawasaki unleashed its performance on the softer rubber, pole was comfortably out of reach for the Panigale pair.
The biggest jump on qualifying tyres initially came from the Kawasaki of Sykes with the 2013 champion pinching top spot on a 1:33.954 but Haslam followed his compatriot over the finish line with a 1:33.477, laying down a serious marker to the competition. Rea had an answer though and despite a second blistering lap in succession from the Aprilia, Jonathan proved the stronger with a 1:33.382, 0.011s underneath Haslam’s second effort.
Alex Lowes followed up his practice performance with a maiden front row in World Superbikes, stealing third from Sykes in the dying seconds, while Jordi Torres’ unusual strategy of staying out on a single set of race tyres left him fifth, seven tenths off pole. The Ducatis of Davies and Bayliss slipped back to sixth and seventh with the PATA Hondas of Michael van der Mark and Sylvain Guintoli close behind while Leandro Mercado, David Salom and Matteo Baiocco will make up the fourth row of the grid.
After morning rain prevented any hope of improving on Friday’s practice times, Van der Mark was forced into a dogfight in Superpole 1 and the Dutch rookie was slightly fortunate to advance. The PATA Honda rider was second quickest behind the Barni Ducati of Mercado but Sylvan Barrier was on target to knock him out, only for a last corner mistake to cost the BMW rider vital time and keep him back in third.
As a result, the Frenchman starts thirteenth but he wasn’t the only high profile casualty in SP1 with Nicolas Terol and Randy de Puniet both falling at the first hurdle, leaving them fourteenth and sixteenth respectively on tomorrow’s grid.
CHANG THAI ROUND: SUPERPOLE CLASSIFICATION
|1||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:33.382|
|2||Leon Haslam||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:33.393|
|3||Alex Lowes||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:33.738|
|4||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:33.841|
|5||Jordi Torres||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils||1:34.080|
|6||Chaz Davies||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:34.084|
|7||Troy Bayliss||Ducati||Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team||1:34.334|
|8||Michael van der Mark||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:34.514|
|9||Sylvain Guintoli||Honda||PATA Honda World Superbike||1:34.562|
|10||Leandro Mercado||Ducati||Barni Racing Team||1:34.674|
|11||David Salom||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:34.961|
|12||Matteo Baiocco||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:35.024|
|ELIMINATED IN SUPERPOLE 1|
|13||Sylvain Barrier||BMW||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK||1:35.115|
|14||Nicolas Terol||Ducati||Althea Racing||1:35.255|
|15||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||1:35.267|
|16||Randy de Puniet||Suzuki||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||1:35.578|
|17||Roman Ramos||Kawasaki||Team Go Eleven||1:36.226|
|18||Niccolo Canepa||EBR||Team Hero EBR||1:36.466|
|19||Christophe Ponsson||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:36.788|
|20||Santiago Barragan||Kawasaki||Grillini SBK Team||1:37.536|
|FAILED TO QUALIFY FOR SUPERPOLE 1|
|21||Anucha Nakcharoensri||Honda||YSS TS Racing||1:38.174|
|22||Greg Gildenhuys||Kawasaki||Team Pedercini||1:38.767|
|23||Larry Pegram||EBR||Team Hero EBR||1:38.772|
|24||Imre Toth||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:39.256|
|25||Ireneusz Sikora||BMW||BMW Team Toth||1:40.719|
|26||Chanon Chumjai||BMW||RAC Oil Racing Team||1:40.810|