Max Biaggi underlined the amazing out-of-the-box speed of Aprilia's new RSV4 by finishing the first qualifying session for the third round of the World Superbike championship in first place.
On the same day that the road version of the 1,000cc machine was launched at Misano in Italy, Biaggi lapped the 2.487-mile Valencia circuit in Spain in 1m 34.775s to lead Yamaha’s Ben Spies by just 0.132s.
Championship leader Noriyuki Haga finished third quickest on his Xerox Ducati, a thousandth of a second off Spies’ pace, from Michel Fabrizio on the second factory Ducati.
Britain’s Tom Sykes crashed late in the session, but had already cut a 1m 35.270s lap on his Yamaha R1 to make him fifth fastest. Joanthan Rea was ninth quickest on his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda, but the next fastest Brit was Leon Haslam in 14th place on his Stiggy Honda.
Such is the pace in this year’s championship that Haslam was only 0.760s off provisional pole. Shane Byrne was 19th best on the Sterilgarda Honda and Tommy Hill (Altea Honda) 27th fastest.
John Hopkins, making his WSB debut, lapped in 1m 35.868s – 1.093s off Biaggi’s pace – to claim 18th position. On the new BMW S1000 RR, Troy Corser was 13th fastest, but only 0.741s off pole.