Davies takes pole with record breaking lap

by Robert Jones

Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari near Imola is a circuit known for producing incidents and it was no different today, as Superpole started with immediate issues for Michael Ruben Rinaldi.

The Italian’s Ducati was leaking oil just after leaving the pit lane, before crashing down at Tamburello with less than a minute gone. The session was red flagged as the marshals cleared up the track.

As the session restarted, it wasn’t long before another red flag came out, as Leon Camier and Sandro Cortese both went down at Tampurello again, which was quickly becoming a nightmare corner for the riders.

When Superpole got underway for a third time, it was Jonathan Rea who set the quickest time on race rubber, going faster than the rest of the field by over half a second. Alvaro Bautista was second fastest after posting his best lap of the weekend on his first flying run.

Image Credit: WorldSBK.com

As time whittled down and the riders headed out on the qualifying tyre, the lap times started to tumble with Rea setting the fastest lap of the entire weekend. But it wasn’t long before he was beaten by Chaz Davies, who broke his qualifying lap record of 2016 by four tenths with a simply stunning lap. This is the Welshman’s first pole position of the year, and he will no doubt be looking to get his first win of the year in front of the passionate Italian home crowd.

Bautista rounded out the front row, but finished nine tenths down on his team-mate and has work to do before race one. Pata Yamaha struggled again today with both riders qualifying over a second down on the top time, while Alex Lowes will start the race fifth just behind Leon Haslam. Team-mate Michael Van der Mark could only manage eighth position

Haslam and Rea were once again working together in qualifying, a strategy that has been deployed a lot in recent races. The Englishman has been improving throughout the weekend and will hope to keep pace at the front from fourth on the grid.

Sixth and seventh are the BMW pair of Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger, with Jordi Torres ninth and Sandro Cortese rounding out the top ten.

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