With a 48-point lead to take into tonight’s first WorldSBK race at Losail in Qatar, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) made an ideal preparation for taking the crown with one race to spare, by securing pole position with a new track best in Superbike; 1’56.356.
A flurry of riders, all with access to their qualifying rear tyre in Superpole 2, posted laps just before the cut-off of the 15-minute session. Rea had the upper hand, however, holding off Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) by 0.205 seconds.
Third fastest was Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati), also just over 0.2 seconds from Rea.
Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) continued his strong return to form on his R1, finishing up fourth – and one place ahead of the only man with a slim arithmetical possibility to overhaul Rea for the title, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team).
The second row starting places were rounded out Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team).
Fast privateer Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team Ducati) was up in the top group again, in seventh, with Italy’s Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team Aprilia) eighth.
Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team) was ninth - 0.770 from the top rider and one time fastest rider in the session, Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) was tenth.
Stand-in rider and recent Superstock champion Raffaele De Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) was an impressive 13th; Josh Brookes (Milwaukee BMW) was 14th and Leon Haslam (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 16th.
Race one takes place this evening, at 8pm local time in Qatar.
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