Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea scooped the first pole position of the new World Superbike Championship season in a hotly contested qualifying session at Phillip Island.
The Kawasaki rider posted a session best of 1.31.212s in hot dry conditions at the 4.4km Victorian circuit to secure pole by a narrow 0.026s margin from Ducati’s Chaz Davies.
Track temperatures of 56 degrees prevented the field from eclipsing the pace set in practice.
Aprilia’s Leon Haslam, who set the pace ahead of Superpole, was third fastest just 0.295s adrift of the pace set by Rea.
Pata Honda’s Michael van der Mark continued his impressive showing on his full World Superbike debut to secure fourth ahead of Friday pacesetter Alex Lowes aboard the Crescent Suzuki.
Althea Racing’s Nicolas Terol was sixth ahead of Aprilia’s Jordi Torres, while Tom Sykes edged reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli to eighth spot.
A crash involving EVO class rider David Salom brought out the red flags four minutes from the end of Superpole 2. The Pedercini Kawasaki rider was stretchered from the scene of the accident before being taking to hospital for precautionary checks.
Former three-time world champion Troy Bayliss will start Sunday’s two 22 lap races from 14th on the grid.
The Gold Coast rider dusted himself down after a crash in Free Practice 4 to finish fourth in Superpole 1.
Bayliss, making a one-off return to the championship as a replacement for injured Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, was just half a second away from securing a spot in Superpole 2.
Australian wildcard Jed Metcher (Race Center Kawasaki) will occupy 16th spot while countrymen Matthew Walters qualified 19th despite a nasty high speed crash at Turn 1 early in the session. He escaped the incident without serious injury.
In the World Supersport Championship, Jules Cluzel secured pole position from reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu by 0.142s.
Australia’s Aidan Wagner turned heads with the wildcard rider securing 12th spot on the grid ahead of his compatriots Glenn Scott 19th, Alex Phillis 20th and Sam Lambert in 23rd position.
The Australian Superbike Championship support race was red flagged earlier today after Paul Simonson was involved in an accident which saw him transferred to hospital. Team Honda rider Jamie Stauffer also suffered a fall breaking his pelvis.
The race has been rescheduled for Sunday morning at 8.20am local time.
Meanwhile, New South Wales rider Michael Blair took out the Australian Supersport Championship encounter.
South Australian Olly Simpson recorded an impressive double victory in the 125cc/Moto3 class.
Result: World Superbike Championship Qualifying
|1||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R||1.31.212s|
|2||Chaz Davies||Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R||1.31.238s||+0.026s|
|3||Leon Haslam||Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4||1.31.507s||+0.295s|
|4||Michael van der Mark||PATA Honda CBR1000RR||1.31.613s||+0.401s|
|5||Alex Lowes||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000||1.32.042s||+0.830s|
|6||Nicolas Terol||Althea Ducati 1199R||1.32.081s||+0.869s|
|7||Jordi Torres||Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4||1.32.243s||+1.031s|
|8||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R||1.32.265s||+1.053s|
|9||Sylvain Guintoli||PATA Honda CBR1000RR||1.32.446s||+1.234s|
|10||Matteo Baiocco||Althea Ducati 1199R||1.32.841s||+1.629s|
|11||David Salom||Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R||–|
|12||Tati Mercardo||Barni Ducati 1199R||–|
|13||Randy De Puniet||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000||1.31.885s||–|
|14||Troy Bayliss||Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R||1.32.201s||–|
|15||Leon Camier||MV Agusta F4 RR||1.32.668s||–|
|16||Jed Metcher||Race Center Kawasaki ZX-10R||1.32.727s||–|
|17||Niccolo Canepa||Team Hero EBR 1190RX||1.32.998s||–|
|18||Sylvain Barrier||BMW Italia S1000RR||1.33.057s||–|
|19||Matthew Walters||Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R||1.33,477s||–|
|20||Romas Ramos||GO Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R||1.33.716s||–|
|21||Santiago Barragan||Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R||1.33.960s||–|
|22||Larry Pegram||Team Hero EBR 1190RX||1.34.323s||–|
|23||Christophe Ponsson||Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R||1.34.324s||–|
|24||Imre Toth||Team Toth BMW S1000RR||1.36.669s||–|