There was an all BMW battle for the top spot in the first World Superbike qualifying session at Monza today with three of the S1000 RRs battling for provisional pole position. In the end, however, the one on top is not the one most expected.
Michel Fabrizio rode his privateer BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet BMW to the fastest time, the Italian climbing up the time sheets to nab the top spot with two minutes to go in the session. Fabrizio's last pole position came at Imola in Italy in September of 2009 and he proved today that he will be a factor tomorrow.
Fellow Italian Marco Melandri held the top spot for nearly the entire session, the factory BMW man seemingly in control until being caught out by Fabrizio at the very end. Still, he missed out on provisional pole by just .053 of as second with his 1:42.380 just off Fabrizio's 1:42.327 in a session that featured eight riders within a second of the top spot.
Brit Leon Haslam rode the third BMW to the third fastest time, his 1:42.523 must .143 of a second behind Fabrizio.
The first non-BMW on the grid is the factory Aprilia ridden to the fourth fastest time by Eugene Laverty. Laverty held the top spot briefly early on, but was always in the mix.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes ended up fifth and the Brit will attempt to keep his perfect 2012 pole record intact tomorrow.
Aprilia's Max Biaggi ended up sixth, the Italian the last rider in the 1:42 bracket. Then came Ayrton Badovini on yet another BMW. He led ParkinGo Aprilia's Chaz Davies.
World Champion Carlos Checa could only muster up the ninth fastest time, the Spaniard just ahead of his 10th placed Italian teammate Davide Giugliano.
American John Hopkins improved dramatically in his first visit to Monza, the Crescent Fixi Suzuki rider jumping up to 12th late in the session. Hopkins is 1.2 seconds off Fabrizio's best.
1. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) 1:42.327
2. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:42.380
3. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:42.523
4. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:42.625
5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:42.794
6. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:42.844
7. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1:43.138
8. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:43.228
9. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:43.393
10. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:43.408
12. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:43.576