Carlos Checa timed his final run to perfection as he took pole position for Monday's World Superbike races at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
The session took place in cold and wet conditions which rendered Checa's pace advantage in the dry meaningless, and the Spaniard was forced to work extremely hard in the Superpole shootout.
In Superpole 3, it was the Effenbert-Liberty pair of Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli who took the fight to Checa, and the Frenchman took provisional pole with three minutes remaining on a 1:59.364.
With conditions constantly improving as strong winds dried the track, no fewer than six riders were setting 'green' sectors, indicating they were quicker than Guintoli's benchmark. Checa was the first man into the 1:58s but Smrz went half a second quicker with everything boiling down to their final flying laps.
The Czech rider was unable to improve but it seemed he was safe, with Checa a tenth down on his time as he entered the final sector. But the Althea Ducati's strong run onto the pit straight proved crucial as Checa snatched pole by 0.075s.
Marco Melandri will be looking to narrow the 27 point gap to Checa in the championship and he will have a good opportunity to do so from third on the grid, while Monza double-winner Eugene Laverty rounds out the front row in fourth.
Guintoli failed to make the same gains as his teammate and dropped down to fifth while Troy Corser's final lap was good enough for sixth. Max Biaggi dominated Superpole 1 as he coped best with the tricky conditions, but his touch deserted him when it really mattered and his SP3 session ended in the mud after running wide. The World Champion was forced to settle for seventh with fellow countryman Ayrton Badovini qualifying an excellent eighth.
Noriyuki Haga was eliminated in Superpole 2 and he was joined on the sidelines by a trio of Brits. Tom Sykes did well to get the Kawasaki ZX-10R into the top ten but got no further while the two Leons, Camier and Haslam, had days to forget.
Leon Camier was lucky even to get out of the first session after a crash caused significant damage to his RSV4 Factory machine, the Ashford rider managed to rejoin on the spare bike but was forced to settle for 11th. Haslam had a fall of his own in Superpole 2 and that kept him down in 12th.
Jonathan Rea was the big name casualty in Superpole 1 as Castrol Honda had a miserable day. Despite nominating this as their designated testing circuit, the team struggled in the wet conditions with Rea and teammate Ruben Xaus down in 13th and 14th.
James Toseland continued his return to full fitness aboard the BMW Motorrad Italia machine. Although he failed to qualify for the Superpole session, the Yorkshireman will look forward to racing again from 18th on the grid.
|1||Carlos Checa||Althea Racing||1:58.315|
|2||Jakub Smrz||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||1:58.390|
|3||Marco Melandri||Yamaha World Superbike Team||1:58.609|
|4||Eugene Laverty||Yamaha World Superbike Team||1:58.860|
|5||Sylvain Guintoli||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||1:59.069|
|6||Troy Corser||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:59.262|
|7||Max Biaggi||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1:59.736|
|8||Ayrton Badovini||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||1:59.827|
|Eliminated in Superpole 2|
|9||Noriyuki Haga||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||2:00.303|
|10||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing Team||2:00.477|
|11||Leon Camier||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||2:00.643|
|12||Leon Haslam||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||2:01.127|
|Eliminated in Superpole 1|
|13||Jonathan Rea||Castrol Honda||2:03.232|
|14||Ruben Xaus||Castrol Honda||2:03.382|
|15||Michel Fabrizio||Team Suzuki Alstare||2:03.397|
|16||Josh Waters||Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team||2:04.156|
|Failed to Qualify for Superpole Session|
|17||Joan Lascorz||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:50.195|
|18||James Toseland||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||1:50.306|
|19||Mark Aitchison||Team Pedercini||1:50.646|
|20||Maxime Berger||Supersonic Racing Team||1:50.717|
|21||Roberto Rolfo||Team Pedercini||1:51.586|