Just when you thought the World Superbike Championship couldn't get any closer, along comes Phillip Island. In today's pre-Superpole qualifying, 17 riders were within .729 of a second as the top men prepare for this afternoon's first Superpole session of the 2010 season.Although he couldn't better his mark from yesterday, Althea Racing's Carlos Checa managed to hold on to the top spot - with the top three from yesterday failing to improve, yet keeping their spots at the top. Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio heads into Superpole second to Checa with Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam third.Checa lapped at 1:32.155 yesterday and 1:32.227 today.Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow improved today, taking over half a second off his best from yesterday to move up to fourth with his 1:32.446. Alstare Suzuki's Sylvain Guintoli also improved by half a second to get to fifth overall, marginally ahead of Yamaha's James Toseland, the Brit bouncing back from yesterday's crash to earn sixth headed to Superpole.Jonathan Rea ended up seventh overall after the two sessions, the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda man just ahead of Kawasaki's Chris Vermeulen. Aprilia's Leon Camier and Team Pata B&G Racing's Jakub Smrz rounded out the top 10.Althea Racing's Shane Byrne dropped down to 12th today after finishing yesterday in fourth. Byrne had a painful day after highsiding at the end of yesterday's session and suffering back bruising.The depth of the World Superbike field is no more evident than with Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Max Neukirchner, the World Superbike race winners 16th and 17th, respectively. And only .695 of a second and .729 of a second behind Checa.Pedercini Kawasaki's Roger Lee Hayden dropped down to the 1:35s for the first time with his 1:35.614, but even with the improvement he stayed in 24th and last in qualifying and will not take part in today's Superpole session.

Qualifying

1.                  Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:32.155

2.                  Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:32.162

3.                  Leon Haslam (Suzuki) 1:32.373

4.                  Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:32.446

5.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki) 1:32.448

6.                  James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:32.455

7.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:32.460

8.                  Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) 1:32.500

9.                  Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1:32.548

10.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:32.571

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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