With the top 20 riders within a second of each other heading into today’s first Superpole session of the World Superbike season, excitement is building at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia as Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea is the man on top after the second qualifying session.The young Brit will lead the top 20 into Superpole after taking some 1.3 seconds off his best lap from yesterday’s 17th fastest effort to post a 1:32.161.If Rea’s effort was surprising, so too was the speed of the new Aprilia and BMW as Max Biaggi and Troy Corser slotted the new bikes into the second and fifth spots, respectively, heading into Superpole.Ducati-mounted Jakub Smrz, yesterday’s provisional pole sitter, ended up third and failed to improve upon his time from yesterday.Next came Noriyuki Haga on the factory Xerox Ducati, the Japanese rider ending up fourth for the final spot on the provisional front row. Then came Corser and then Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio in sixth – one spot better than AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies in his World Superbike qualifying debut.DFX Ducati’s Regis Laconi ended up eighth with Spies’ Yamaha teammate Tom Sykes ninth. Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner ended up 10th, improving his time from yesterday but losing six spots in the process.The knock-out Superpole session will begin with the top 20 riders riding for 12 minutes. Then comes a seven minute break, after which the 16 fastest are out for another 12 minutes. A second seven minute break precedes the final 12 minute session for the eight fastest riders.
Qualifying Times1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:32.1612. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:32.3063. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:32.3124. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) 1:32.3775. Troy Corser (BMW) 1:32.3976. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:32.4917. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:32.5008. Regis Laconi (Ducati) 1:32.5089. Tom Sykes (Yamaha) 1:32.50910. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1:32.52511. Ryiuchi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:32.60212. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:32.62313. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)1:32.70414. Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:32.70815. Tommy Hill (Honda) 1:32.88416. Shinya Nakano (Aprilia) 1:32.92817. Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:32.94718. Ruben Xaus (BMW) 1:32.99219. Roby Rolfo (Honda) 1:33.05520. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1:33.104