Marco Melandri took his first ever pole position in World Superbikes after edging out Max Biaggi in the third Superpole session at Motorland Aragon.
The Yamaha rider sneaked under the radar in the first two sessions, coming close to being knocked out in both of them, but delivered at the crucial moment to set the fastest time of the weekend, a 1:57.634 to edge out Biaggi by a tenth of a second.
The reigning champion was quickest in SP2 and entered the final session as the favourite and initially set the standard with a 1:57.790, but Melandri was running close behind in an attempt to pick up a slipstream, and his tactic paid dividends.
Biaggi will at least be pleased to have his Alitalia Aprilia teammate Leon Camier alongside him in third, demoting championship leader Carlos Checa to fourth on the grid. Tomorrow's first race marks the halfway stage in the season and if Biaggi is to resurrect his title defence, he must surely start to make inroads into Checa's 72 point lead.
Just a week after taking a stunning pole position at Misano, Tom Sykes qualified fifth for the factory Kawasaki squad, with Joan Lascorz joining him in SP3 before taking seventh, proving the progress being made by the Japanese manufacturer.
Starting in between them will be Eugene Laverty in sixth while Ayrton Badovini matched his best qualifying result in eighth for the BMW Motorrad Italia squad. The factory BMW team had a day to forget with both riders dropping out in SP1. As a result, Leon Haslam and Troy Corser will start tomorrow's races 14th and 16th respectively.
Today also marked the first time this year that Castrol Honda failed to make it into the Superpole session. Ruben Xaus ended the qualifying practice sessions in 17th while Jonathan Rea is sitting this weekend out, after the injuries he sustained at Misano.
|1||Marco Melandri||ITA||Yamaha World Superbike Team||1:57.634|
|2||Max Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1:57.790|
|3||Leon Camier||GBR||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||1:58.279|
|4||Carlos Checa||SPA||Althea Racing||1:58.472|
|5||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:58.641|
|6||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Yamaha World Superbike Team||1:58.756|
|7||Joan Lascorz||SPA||Kawasaki Racing Team||1:59.194|
|8||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||1:59.591|
|Eliminated in Superpole 2|
|9||Noriyuki Haga||JAP||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||1:58.566|
|10||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||1:58.640|
|11||Michel Fabrizio||ITA||Team Suzuki Alstare||1:58.950|
|12||Mark Aitchison||AUS||Team Pedercini||1:59.680|
|Eliminated in Superpole 1|
|13||Jakub Smrz||CZE||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||1:59.355|
|14||Leon Haslam||GBR||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:59.367|
|15||Maxime Berger||FRA||Supersonic Racing Team||1:59.507|
|16||Troy Corser||AUS||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||1:59.565|
|Failed to Qualify for Superpole Session|
|17||Ruben Xaus||SPA||Castrol Honda||2:00.432|
|18||Chris Vermeulen||AUS||Kawasaki Racing Team||2:00.507|
|19||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Team Pedercini||2:00.678|
|20||Lorenzo Lanzi||ITA||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||2:00.776|