Chaz Davies marmalised the outright World Superbike lap record at Imola this morning as the Welshman powered home in Superpole to give Aruba Ducati a one-two qualifying result ahead of this afternoon’s opening race.
Davies’ scintillating 1’45.598 - a long way under Jonathan Rea’s previous nets of 1’46.289 - came with four minutes remaining in a session that was disrupted by a red flag, produced after Pata Yamaha’s Sylvain Guintoli had suffered a huge highside exiting Acque Minerali with six minutes of the session gone.
Reports following the Superpole session were that the Frenchman was ‘conscious and under medical assessment’, with team boss Paul Denning stating the 2014 world champion was ‘basically ok’.
Davide Giugliano made it a day to remember for Ducati, taking second behind Davies and it was the Italian who had kicked things off moving into top spot after the grid had completed their first flying laps.
Giugliano was quickly chased by Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Honda’s Nicky Hayden in the opening stages, before Tom Sykes put his ZX-10R into second place and Davies made his mark, taking top with a 1’46.831.
Rea battled back though, displacing Davies with a 1’46.790 before the red flags came out for Guintoli’s accident.
That left the riders in Superpole 2 in a bit of a quandary, with just nine minutes remaining when the flags went green again a variety of tyres were in use by the competitors.
Some opted for another sighting lap on the race tyre while the likes of Althea BMW’s Markus Reiterberger opted to head straight out on the qualifying option.
Reiterberger’s move paid off as he took the BMW round the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and into fifth initially, just ahead of his team-mate Jordi Torres.
Rea, Davies and Sykes were just a few of the riders who decided to stay in the pits and work on a plan as the others went out, and when that trio did emerge the battle for Superpole began in earnest.
Giugliano, already out on track, was the first to make his move as he quickly went into top spot and once Sykes was on his flier he followed into second, though Davies was charging through menacingly behind.
The Welshman hurtled round the 4.936km circuit in record time, as he broke Tom Sykes best from 2013 with a remarkable 1’45.598 just as Rea was leaving pit-lane.
With Davies leading a Ducati 1-2 from Giugliano, littled changed in the closing stages as Rea could only get close enough for third, bumping Sykes into fourth ahead of a fine late lap from Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.
Torres was the best of the Althea BMWs in sixth, ahead of MV Agusta’s Leon Camier, who delivered a decisive late lap, and Torres’ team-mate Reiterberger.
Nicky Hayden took his Fireblade to a highly creditable ninth on his first qualifying visit to Imola, in front of Matteo Baiocco and the other Honda of Michael Van Der Mark as Guintoli’s opening time left him a token 12th, though whether he will be able to race remains to be seen.
A tough Superpole 1, which saw Hayden and Van Der Mark make it through, left Xavi Fores 13th while Alex Lowes and the Milwaukee BMWs of Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham will begin race one on the sixth row.