Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) underlined the unpredictable nature of SBK racing at Phillip Island by posting the fastest lap of the first qualifying session, a 1’31.31, on his leased Aprilia, to ease out the factory Aprilia Racing vee-four of Eugene Laverty.
Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) was third despite continuing to struggle with a shoulder injury, while Leon Camier has proved that recent testing form can be replicated in the heat of competition by going into the top four on his Fixi Crescent Suzuki.
BMW’s new rider, Chaz Davies, was a top five qualifier, while Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) was top CBR rider in sixth, with his new team-mate Jonathan Rea in tenth place.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was only seventh, by his standards disappointing, but still only 0.437 seconds from overnight pole.
The Aprilia riders had a good time at a track on which Max Biaggi almost ran amok with pure pace at in 2012, with privateer Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) eighth and Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) ninth.
Jamie Stauffer, a wildcard on a local Aussie Honda, was an impressive eleventh.
The all-new Ducati Panigale, having shone so brightly in the hands of Carlos Checa (Ducati Alstare) in testing suffered after Checa crashed hard in the morning session and a detuned Checa carried on regardless to finish 12th. He was still only 0.746 seconds off provisional pole, but also only one place ahead of the much more standard MR-Racing Ducati of Max Neukirchner, another one of many riders who have had to bounce back after recent crashes and injury.
Another Aussie wildcard, Glen Allerton (Next Gen Motorsports BMW) was 14th, Loris Baz (KRT) went 15th.
At the end of the opening day the results showed that the 2013 season will be as competitive as ever with 13 riders running within a second of pole and the top 19 and the top 19 were within 1.581 seconds.
Phillip Island - FIM Superbike World Championship - Qualifying 1
1. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'31.317
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'31.392
3. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'31.539
4. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'31.608
5. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'31.638
6. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'31.687
7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'31.754
8. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'31.793
9. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'31.863
10. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'31.884
11. Jamie Stauffer (Team Honda Racing) Honda CBR1000RR 1'31.984
12. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati Panigale 1199 1'32.063
13. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati Panigale 1199 1'32.243
14. Glen Allerton (Next Gen Motorsports) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.352
15. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.497
16. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati Panigale 1199 1'32.540
17. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 1'32.757
18. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'32.801
19. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'32.898
20. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'33.082
21. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'33.305