TOOELE, UTAH, MAY 26 - Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati's Jakub Smrz handled the changeable conditions better than any of his World Superbike brethren to take the provisional pole at Miller Motorsports Park.
The track had been hit by morning showers which gave way to 30-plus mph winds and dropping temperatures. With little rubber built up on the 3.06-mile road course, and in less than ideal climactic conditions, there was little chance that the times would impress.
They didn't. Smrz took the provisional pole with a time of 1:49.842. A year earlier in the same session, Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa had lapped 1.6 seconds faster. MMP is something of a home track for Checa. The Spaniard won twice in 2009, had a pair of heartbreaking mechanical problems that denied him a double again in 2010, then won both races last year en route to the world title. Today he was only .070 of a second behind Smrz on the provisional front row.
Marco Melandri was testing the BMW S 1000RR on track for the first time. Last year Melandri rode a Yamaha here and BMW had a miserable weekend. Teammate Leon Haslam, who had a rough weekend here in 2011, was only 12th today.
Aprilia's Max Biaggi qualified at the end of the provisional front row, lapping nearly as quickly as Melandri.
Althea Racing Ducati's Davide Giugliano qualified fifth fastest in his first visit to MMP, just in front of Smrz's teammate Sylvain Guintoli.
Honda's Jonathan Rea broke up the European bike parade by qualifying seventh fastest on the Honda CBR1000RR, but by only .070 of a second on Aprilia's Eugene Laverty.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes walked away from a late, fast crash to qualify ninth fastest, with Leon Camier filling out the top ten on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki.
John Hopkins qualified the second FIXI Crescent Suzuki 17th fastest in his return go the racetrack. Hopkins broke his foot in the wet first race, which red flagged shortly after.
World Superbike Qualifying:
1. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:49.842
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:49.912
3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:50.038
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:50.091
5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:50.280
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:50.312
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:50.358
8. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia ) 1:50.428
9. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:50.433
10. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:50.520
17. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:51.512