What looked like a Ducati party early on at the Silverstone Circuit in England, turned out to be anything but when all was said and done in the 45-minute opening qualifying session for Sunday's two World Superbike races.

At one point World Champion Carlos Checa ruled the roost on his Althea Racing Ducati with a horde of Ducatis in his wake. Then came the Kawasaki of Tom Sykes, the Brit who has been unmatched in his qualifying efforts this year going to the top of the time sheets with 13 minutes to go and he stayed there. Sykes' best lap was a 2:06.115 - just .033 better than Checa, the Spaniard having led this morning's practice session with a 2:06.479.

And several of the four cylinders followed Sykes' lead with Leon Camier pushing his Fixi Crescent Suzuki to third with a 2:06.617, only to be knocked back down to fourth in the waning moments by a motivated Sylvain Guintoli. The Frenchman, who was abandoned at the last round by his Effenbert Liberty Ducati team, ended up third behind Sykes and Checa on his Pata Racing Ducati. Guintoli's best was a 2:06.576.

Behind Camier came Chaz Davies on the ParkinGo Aprilia, the Welshman pushing the rest of the Ducatis down the order to lead the provisional second row with his 2:06.684.

Then came the rest of the Ducatis with Effenbert Liberty's Jakub Smrz leading Guintoli's teammate Lorenzo Zanetti and Maxime Berger, who was eighth on the second Effenberty Liberty Ducati and the last rider to circulate in the 2:06s.

American John Hopkins had his best qualifying effort of the season to end up ninth, one spot better than the first of the BMWs ridden by Ayrton Badovini in 10th. Hopkins' best was .892 off Sykes provisional pole time heading into tomorrow's second round of qualifying and Superpole.

World Championship points leader Max Biaggi could do no better than 17th today on his factory Aprilia.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 2:06.115

2.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2:06.148

3.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 2:06.576

4.                  Leon Camier (Suzuki) 2:06.817

5.                  Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 2:06.684

6.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 2:06.795

7.                  Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati) 2:06.869

8.                  Maxime Berger (Ducati) 2:06.967

9.                  John Hopkins (Suzuki) 2:07.007

10.                  Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 2:07.089

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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