Having failed to make it through automatically to the Superpole 2, both Red-Bull Honda’s of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl put on a commanding display in the opening session. The former MotoGP riders were imperious, with the next best contender (BMW’s Markus Reiterberger) over half a second slower.
It has been a difficult week so far for the Grillini-Racing Team, who have had to endure a very uncompetitive meeting so far, as both Ondrej Jezek and Ayrton Badovini could not qualify beyond the last two spots on the grid, more than two seconds off the pace of the Hondas.
There was drama almost as soon as the second qualifying session began as Pata-Yamaha’s Alex Lowes ran off the circuit on entry to the final corner. The 2016 Suzuka 8-hours winner was left unable to set a time, and will have to start from P12 on the fourth row for Race 1. The off-track excursions continued throughout the session – most notably was Stefan Bradl who’s Honda machine caught fire at the end of his first run, and had to be content with P11.
With Lowes out of contention, the battle for pole position was left exclusively between the works Kawasaki and Ducati outfits. Reigning champion Jonathan Rea set the early pace, and looked his usual metronomic self throughout the session. However, a stunning effort from Aruba.It-Ducati’s Chaz Davies in the dying moments, was enough to steal the top spot with a time of 1’49.319, pipping the Kawasaki man by 0.043 seconds. Tom Sykes (KRT) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it-Ducati) completed the top four.
Davies was quick to play down his chances for Race One, saying “The bike still isn’t quite there” having lost an entire practice session yesterday due to a technical fault.
Front Three Rows:
Pole: Davies (AI-Ducati) P2: Rea (KRT) P3: Sykes (KRT)
P4: Melandri (AI-Ducati) P5: Forres (BARNI-Ducati) P6: Torres (BMW)
P7: Van-der-Mark (Yamaha) P8: Mercado (IODA-Aprilia) P9: Laverty (Milwaukee-Aprilia)
Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull