What do Noriyuki Haga, Ben Spies, Troy Corser and Max Neukirchner all have in common? They all took a backseat to Jakub Smrz as the Czech rider pulled off the first upset of the World Superbike season by putting his Guandalini Ducati on provisional pole position today at Phillip Island.After ending free practice 16th, Smrz managed to go some 1.6 seconds faster to end today’s qualifying session fastest as the season began in earnest in Australia.Smrz’s fast laps came late in the session and his best of 1:32.312 unseated Xerox Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga from the top spot. Haga ended with a best of 1:32.569 while Leon Haslam ended up third, the Brit turning a 1:32.623.”For me, Phillip Island is almost the best circuit in the world,” Smrz said in a release issued by SBK. “It is easy for me to make a good lap here. The bike is a good bike and 95% similar to last year’s so I have been able to get on the pace very quickly. For sure, I have a lot of confidence with the tire, even in these hot conditions.”Initially, it was Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari at the top of the time sheets. Then he gave way to Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio, the man who had been quickest in the final shakedown test prior to this weekend’s racing action. Then it was Neukirchner on the factory Suzuki, with his teammate Yukio Kagayama behind him.But the two Suzukis would slip to fourth and fifth at the end, with Shinya Nakano putting the Aprilia an impressive sixth in its debut.Fabrizio would fall to seventh – one spot better than AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies. Spies had impressed early in the day, the Texan completing his first-ever World Superbike session with the fastest time.Then came Spies’ teammate Tom Sykes in ninth with Kiyonari ending the session in 10th.Troy Corser put the factory BMW into 16th in the bike’s first official qualifying session.The times were close with just 1.5 seconds covering the top 18 riders.
1. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:32.3122. Noriyujki Haga (Ducati) 1:32.5693. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:32.6234. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1:32.6735. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 1:32.7046. Shinya Nakano (Aprilia) 1:32.9287. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:32.932 8. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:32.9399. Tom Sykes (Yamaha) 1:32.97110. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:32.99111. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:32.99512. Regis Laconi (Ducati) 1:33.20213. Robby Rolfo (Honda) 1:33.20614. Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:33.22415. Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:33.31716. Troy Corser (BMW) 1:33.37717. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:33.41818. Makoto Tamada (Kawasaki) 1:33.70919. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1:33.91120. Ruben Xaus (BMW) 1:34.080