Effenbert Ducati rider Jakub Smrz secured provisional pole position right at the end of the opening qualifying session at Imola today edging out Kawasaki pairing Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes.
The Czech Ducati rider illustrated the pace of his 1198 around the undulating Italian circuit – a track where the 1200cc V-twin has enjoyed unprecedented success.
Tom Sykes spent a large part of the session at the top of the time sheets but still has work to do on the overall balance of his ZX-10R especially in sector three of the circuit where he is losing close to half a second to Smrz.
Fourth place went to Max Biaggi onboard his factory Aprilia with 2011 Imola race winner Jonathan Rea in fifth.
Rea said: “The bike is feeling pretty good to be honest and I think we’re pretty close. We made a few changes to the front of the bike and also the rear ride height and we’ve got some more stuff to try so all in all I’m pretty satisfied.”
Fellow Brit Leon Haslam jumped up the leader board in qualifying to end the day sixth fastest ahead of reigning WSB champion Carlos Checa.
Haslam said: “In free practice we were working a lot with the mapping to get it working with the new engine to improve the engine braking and throttle connection.
"The new engine feels better in terms of the engine braking but it’s still too sensitive from when we have good grip to when the grip of the rear tyre goes away.”
Sylvan Guintoli suffered a technical problem at the end of the session which saw him drop to eighth ahead of an ever improving Eugene Laverty and Leon Camier.
Chaz Davies ended the day 15th fastest, first ride back from a serious wrist injury.
1. Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert) Ducati 1098R 1'48.146
2. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.176
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.246
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.247
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) Honda CBR1000RR 1'48.321
6. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.328
7. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'48.375
8. Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'48.555
9. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.555
10. Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'48.556
11. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'48.728
12. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.741
13. Lorenzo Zanetti (PATA Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 1'48.762
14. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1'48.773
15. Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.959
16. Maxime Berger (Team Effenbert Liberty Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'49.343
17. Niccolò Canepa (Red Devils Roma) Ducati 1098R 1'49.617
18. John Hopkins (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'49.790
19. Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) BMW S1000 RR 1'50.031
20. David Salom (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'50.085
21. Mark Aitchison (Grillini Progea Superbike Team) BMW S1000 RR 1'50.810
22. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) Honda CBR1000RR 1'51.511
23. Leandro Mercado (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'51.645
24. Brett McCormick (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert) Ducati 1098R 1'51.703
25. Lorenzo Alfonsi (Team Pro Ride Real Game Honda) Honda CBR1000RR 1'52.993