Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) added another Superpole scalp to his crown as he took his ninth trophy of the year, one away from Doug Polen's 1991 record for Ducati, at the difficult Brno circuit in the Czech Republic.
The Texan's time of 1 minute 58. 868 seconds was the
quickest seen all weekend so far but was still half a second away from the circuit best lap held by Troy Bayliss.
The Yamaha rider didn't have it all his own way however as he was pushed hard by Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). The two Italians, both from Rome, will start tomorrow's two 20-lap races from second and third on the grid and look to be Spies' most serious challengers for the wins. The front row was completed by Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who hauled himself up to fourth slot after a struggle to get to the front over the first two days.
Ben Spies: “So far we've been good with the race set-up, and we found something in the second session this afternoon that made a big improvement on the race tyres. That Superpole was good as well, I had a small problem in the last session, but my time was good enough to get the job done today. I'm in a strong position and the bike is good on the tyres after a few laps, but I think it's going to be tough against Michel and Max tomorrow.”
Michel Fabrizio: “Let's hope well for tomorrow, both Ben and I are the guys who are doing well at the moment and we are both up at the front for the races. It's a pity that Nori is not up with us at the front because he's still got a few problems with his shoulder, but we've been making really good progress all weekend and I am looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
Max Biaggi: “We are very pleased with this result, all weekend we have been fighting in the top 3. We've been testing here like a month or so ago, and we did a lot of work on the gearbox and the set-up and you can see the result. I'm not exactly where I want to be but I can override in some parts, but I'm pleased with the result, so a big thanks to all my crew.”
Jonathan Rea: “We've been struggling really all weekend. I put a soft qualifier on in the first session and in the second, and the bike wasn't quite right, then I used a race tyre in the third and was confident because I knew I could do the time on that one. It's going to be a hard race for me as well, because I've only done one fast lap on the race tyre and not too many consistent ones. The bike's coming on in leaps and bounds since the start of the year, it's a good period for me in racing and I'm enjoying life a lot!”
Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati) had a good run to fifth place, ahead of the star performers of the day, Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus of the BMW Motorrad squad, who placed their S1000 RR machines in sixth and seventh positions, the German manufacturer's best qualifying performance of the year.
Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike) was in eighth place ahead of Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Ducati), while Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who had looked incisive earlier on, was unable to keep up the momentum in Superpole and finished in tenth place, while Makoto Tamada was the first Kawasaki runner in eleventh.
It was a day of suffering for points leader Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who got no higher than 14th due to his shoulder injury, and he lines up behind the only Suzuki on the grid, the Alstare BRUX machine of Yukio Kagayama. There was disappointment as well for home rider Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Ducati), who crashed out in the second knock-out phase and will have to start from the third row.
Supersport qualifying turned into a one-man show as Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) powered to his seventh pole of the season.
The British rider stopped the clocks at an incredible time of 2 minutes 02.060 seconds, the height of his weekend domination so far. The only man able to get close to Crutchlow, but nine-tenths of a second behind, was Ireland's Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda), his chief rival in the title battle.
The front row is completed by the increasingly competitive Kawasaki Motocard.com pairing of Joan Lascorz and Katsuaki Fujiwara in third and fourth. The third and final championship contender Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) was unable to go any higher than 14th and a fourth row grid start will leave the Turk with it all to do tomorrow. Team-mate Andrew Pitt was also in difficulty, the Australian still sore after his crash yesterday and he ended up in 23rd.
The two ParkinGo Triumph rider Gianluca Nannelli and Garry McCoy were in terrific form, qualifying fifth and sixth respectively and just a whisker away from the front row, while Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) and Michele Pirro (Yamaha Lorenzini) were the other row 2 qualifiers.