Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio led a fast and furious first World Superbike qualifying session today at the Magny Cours Circuit in France with the top four riders seperated by just .169 of a second.Fabrizio took over the top spot with a tad over three minutes to go in the hour-long session, the Italian lapping at 1:38.952. Then he lost the spot to Ten Kate Hannspree Honda's Jonathan Rea shortly thereafter as the Brit upped the pace to a 1:38.879. But with 3:30 to go in the session, Fabrizio shot back to the top with a 1:38.770 - a mark that held to the bitter end.The top men weren't done fighting until the end, with Fabrizio's World Championship leading teammate Noriyuki Haga taking the second spot until Rea grabbed it from him on his final lap. They ended with Rea second - just .051 of a second off Fabrizio.Haga was third, .107 of a second behind, with his championship rival Ben Spies fourth - and just .169 of a second from Fabrizio's quickest lap.Fifth went to Rea's teammate Carlos Checa, the first of the a long list of riders in the 1:39-bracket. Checa led BMW's Troy Corser and Alstare Suzuki's Yukio Kagayama with Jakub Smrz filling the provisional second row.Then came Fonsi Nieto and Aprilia's Max Biaggi. Biaggi had been slower than his new teammate Leon Camier for most of the session, and then the Italian crashed. Biaggi would get back going on his second bike to climb to 10th while Camier dropped to 17th in the final minutes. Even though he was 10th, Biaggi was just 1.064 of a second from Fabrizio's best lap.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Michael Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:38.770

2.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:38.821

3.                  Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) 1:38.877

4.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:38.939

5.                  Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:39.031

6.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:39.435

7.                  Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 1:39.497

8.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:39.613

9.                  Fonsi Nieto (Ducati) 1:39.772

10.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:39.834

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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