Factory Kawasaki's Tom Sykes has stormed to the to of the World Superbike timesheet at Imola this morning, setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far and also going underneath Carlos Checa's lap record, set in 2011.
The Huddersfield man went round in 1'47.458, nearly half a second quicker than the Spaniard set in race trim last year, which was enough to keep the Effenbert Ducati of Sylvain Guintoli in second place after the pair had traded times at the halfway stage.
Sykes had taken the initiative at the beginning, however, going quickest after just seven minutes and staying there with a 1'48.200 until Guintoli hit back with a massively-fast 1'47.608 but Sykes was equal to it and remained .150s clear of the former MotoGP man.
BMW's Leon Haslam upped his pace from yesterday to bag third place on 1'47.646, just 0.038 shy of the Ducati, while reigning champion Checa has also found some extra pace to take fourth spot - but it was disaster for title rival Max Biaggi who has taken a wrong turn with setup and plummeted to 11th place. Much goatee stroking there over lunch then…
Marco Melandri has also gone some way to curing the chatter and corner-entry problems that affected him yesterday, taking fifth spot with a late lap which demoted Factory Aprilia's Eugene Laverty down to sixth but still only half a second slower than Sykes.
Leon Camier managed to make seventh place his own despite crashing unhurt at turn three and yesterday's fastest man, Jakub Smrz was one of the only men not to improve in the second session, slowing right down to a 1'49.468 so some work to be getting on with there. Joan Lascorz also couldn't better his time but Jonathan Rea did and is just ahead of Biaggi in tenth, three-quarters of a second in arrears.
Parkingo Aprilia's Chaz Davies is in 17th but still only 1.3s off with John Hopkins in 19th. The American is clearly having a hard time and slowed to a 1'50.321 with an engine problem.