Photography By: Gold & Goose
Just when it looked as though we had a Ducati sweep of the top spots in today's opening qualifying session for Sunday's two World Superbike races at Phillip Island in Australia, Honda's Jonathan Rea shot to the very top of the time sheets on his final lap and with less than a minute left in the session.
The lap - a 1:31.959 - was the fastest of the day, eclipsing the 1:31.973 that defending World Champion Carlos Checa clocked during the morning free practice session, and it put Rea at the top heading into tomorrow's qualifying session and Superpole.
Prior to Rea's final lap, there were four Ducatis in the top five - though not in the order most would have predicted. In fact, Checa ended up fourth in the session with Liberty Racing Team Effenbert's Jakub Smrz finishing the session in second - .157 of a second off Rea's best.
Third fastest went to the surprise of the session - Checa's Althea Ducati teammate Davide Guigliano, the 22-year-old Italian who won the Superstock 1000cc Championship last year. Guigliano chopped almost a second off his best from the morning session and with the improvement shot from 16th to third. The youngster ended up just .239 of a second behind Rea and with eight minutes to go in the session was at the top of the time sheets.
Checa, meanwhile, ended up fourth, unable to match his pace from the morning session that he led.
Aprilia's Max Biaggi was fifth with the fourth Ducati of Niccolo Canepa sixth.
Seventh and eight went to the two factory Kawasakis, ridden by Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz, respectively. BMW's Marco Melandri ended up ninth with Michel Fabrizio rounding out the top 10 on his BMW S1000 RR.
The top 14 riders were within a second of Rea's best.
Defending World Supersport Champion Chaz Davies ended up 13th in his World Superbike qualifying debut.
The walking wounded pairing of Leon Haslam and Eugene Laverty both completed three laps as they continue to save themselves for Saturday and Sunday. Haslam ended up 21st with Laverty 22nd. Haslam has a broken leg with Laverty nursing a broken hand. Laverty suffered a highside at Lukey Heights again on Friday, but didn't suffer any further injury
1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:31.959
2. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:32.116
3. David Guigliano (Ducati) 1:32.198
4. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:32.228
5. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:32.318
6. Nicco Canepa (Ducati) 1:32.343
7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:32.402
8. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1:32.443
9. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:32.553
10. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1:32.609