If parity amongst the different brands is what the World Superbike promoters were hoping for, they certainly got it today in the first round of qualifying for Sunday's two races at Imola in Italy. And somebody even figured out how to top Carlos Checa. At least for the day.With the top six qualifiers on six different brands of motorcycles (and all seven manufacturers in the top nine), it was the Honda of Jonathan Rea ending up on top after a heated qualifying session that saw a fight at the top between Rea, Checa and BMW's Leon Haslam all session long. When all was said and done, however, it was Rea and the CBR1000RR leading the way with his quick lap knocking Checa from the top rung with just two minutes to go in the session. Rea's best was a 1:48.241 - just .159 better than Checa's best.

Haslam ended up third fastest on the factory BMW, the Brit having taken the top spot from Checa with half an hour to go. His turn at the top didn't last long as Checa and the Althea Racing Ducati quickly grabbed it back. Rea, meanwhile, had dropped to sixth by this point, but with six minutes to go he shot to the top. With just over five minutes left, Checa countered and it looked like another provisional pole for the Spaniard. But Rea had other ideas and he took the spot with just two minutes to go and no one had an answer for him.The Alstare Suzuki of Michel Fabrizio ended up fourth to round out the provisional front row, the Italian besting countryman and factory Yamaha man Marco Melandri. Then came the Kawasaki of Tom Sykes before the first repeat brand with Sylvain Guintoli putting a second Ducati in the top seven with his last-lap flier. He was followed by another Ducati, ridden by Maxime Berger, then came the first Aprilia in the hands of veteran Noriyuki Haga.Jakub Smrz rounded out the top 10 on his Ducati 1098R. Surprisingly, Yamaha's Eugene Laverty ended up well back in 18th place on the first day of qualifying.The top 12 riders were all within a second of Rea's best with the top six separated by just over half a second.Friday Qualifying

1.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:48.241

2.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:48.400

3.                  Leon Haslam (BMW) 1:48.701

4.                  Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1:48.726

5.                  Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1:48.844

6.                  Tom Sykes (Kawaski) 1:48.884

7.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:49.003

8.                  Maxime Berger (Ducati) 1:49.023

9.                  Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1:49.041

10.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:49.072

 

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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