Davies strikes back to snatch Imola WorldSBK pole

Chaz Davies turns it around to secure his first pole position of the season for Aruba.it Ducati ahead of Jonathan Rea; Tommy Bridewell 16th of 19 riders
Davies strikes back to snatch Imola WorldSBK pole

Full Superpole Qualifying results and grid positions

Chaz Davies will start on a World Superbike Championship pole position for the first time this season after defeating pre-Superpole favourite Jonathan Rea with a superb flying lap at Imola.

The Welshman, who has struggled to match the performance of his 11-time race winning Aruba.it Ducati team-mate Alvaro Bautista this year, has nonetheless been in the stronger form on the factory Panigale V4 R in Italy this weekend.

Even so, with Rea dominating free practice ahead of Superpole, anticipation was on the Kawasaki Racing rider to come out top when it mattered. However, when the Ulsterman was forced to complete a second flying lap on fresh tyres, his headline 1m 45.307secs effort fell short of high expectations, allowing Davies to capitalise with his inch-perfect pole-winning 1m 45.180s.

As well as being his first qualifying ‘win’ since Laguna Seca last year, Davies’ result is an eye-catching and timely pole position in Ducati’s ‘back yard’ in a season where his two podiums to date pale into comparison to team-mate Bautista’s 11 victories.

Ex-MotoGP rider Bautista, meanwhile, still has a good chance of maintaining his unprecedented winning streak after landing third on the grid, albeit almost a second slower than Davies. The Spaniard, competing at Imola for the first time, has visibly struggled to get acquainted with the technical Italian venue over a single fast lap, but has been more comparable in terms of race pace.

Making strong gains for Superpole after being down on pace in practice, Leon Haslam ascended to secure fourth on the grid, two tenths adrift of Bautista, while Alex Lowes put illness aside to lead the Pata Yamaha challenge in a creditable fifth best.

Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger were once again in solid single lap form for the factory BMW team to place the S1000RR sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Michael van der Mark and the impressive Jordi Torres, who lifted his Kawasaki ZX-10R into the top ten for the local Pedercini team.

A session delayed by two lengthy red flag periods – firstly for a fiery technical-induced crash involving Michael Ruben Rinaldi and offs for both Leon Camier and Sandro Cortese at Turn 4 – GRT Yamaha’s Cortese nonetheless got back on course late on to snatch a fine tenth on the grid.

Fifth best overnight, Toprak Razgatioglu couldn’t match his practice pace en route to 11thon the grid, ahead of the disappointing Marco Melandri, while Lorenzo Zanetti starts 13thfor his wild-card outing.

Though capitalising on issues for those around him to ascend the order – including a fall for Alessandro Delbianco – Hector Barbera nonetheless starts an improved 14thplace to put himself in range of his maiden WorldSBK points.

Flying in to deputise for Eugene Laverty on the Go Eleven Ducati, Tommy Bridewell produced a positive performance to qualify 16thwith a 1m 48.743secs, only half a second off Ryuichi Kiyonari ahead. This is despite completing only 17 laps in total so far today, compared with his rival’s weekend total of 66 laps.

Failing to set a time, Camier brings up the rear in 19thand last on the Moriwaki Althea Honda.