Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa led an extremely close first qualifying session for Sunday's two World Superbike races at the Misano Adriatico circuit in Italy today, the Spaniard leading a horde of riders with 16 of them within a second of the defending World Champion.
Checa's best was a 1:36.521 and Californian John Hopkins' best was a 1:37.514 - just .993 of a second difference. And there were 14 riders in between them.
Second best was Honda's Jonathan Rea, the Northern Irelander just .047 of a second behind Checa after making a big jump from eighth in this morning's first session.
Homeboy Max Biaggi was next, the factory Aprilia rider besting fellow Italian Marco Melandri with the top four separated by just .274 of a second. Melandri had led this morning's opening session on his factory BMW with a 1:36.613 - a tad faster than his afternoon best, which came on his very last lap.
A third Italian was fifth - Checa's Althea teammate Davide Giugliano. Giugliano also saved his best for last, with his 1:36.806 coming with just three minutes left in the session.
Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati's Sylvain Guintoli ended up sixth with the Kawasaki effort led by not Tom Sykes but Loris Baz in seventh. Then came BMW's Leon Haslam, the Brit having an off-track excursion early in the red-flag interrupted session.
Liberty Racing Team Effenbert's Jakub Smrz was ninth with Sykes rounding out the top 10.
As mentioned earlier, Fixi Crescent Suzuki's Hopkins ended up 16th after running into technical problems in the first session that saw him mired down in 20th.
Among the crashers in this afternoon's session was Chaz Davies, the ParkinGo MTC Racing Aprilia rider escaping without injury but ending up 21st. BMW Motorrad Italia's Michel Fabrizio crashed in both sessions and ended up 18th. The red flag, however, was brought out when local rider Federico Sandi crashed.
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:36.521
2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:36.568
3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:36.703
4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:36.795
5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:36.806
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:36.829
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:36.957
8. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:37.009
9. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:37.022
10. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:37.044)
16. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:37.514