Aprilia duo Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres have set the pace in world superbike qualifying at Phillip Island ahead of this afternoon’s 3pm final battle for grid positions in the ‘Superpole’ shootout.
Haslam (1min30.791secs) moved to the head of the 25-rider pack with seven minutes remaining in this morning’s 45-minute session, with rookie Torres (1:30.836) and Suzuki’s Alex Lowes (1:30.855) right on his hammer. Lowes had been the fastest rider on track yesterday, as well as in final pre-season testing at Phillip Island earlier this week.
All three Aussie riders in this weekend’s field, Jed Metcher (Kawasaki), Troy Bayliss (Ducati) and Matt Walters (Kawasaki) will compete in Superpole, which is open to the fastest 20 riders after the three qualifying sessions.
Metcher (1:32.420) set his best ever lap around Phillip Island to complete qualifying in 16th, one spot ahead of Bayliss (1:32.529) who was 17th. Walters (1:33.091) was 19th.
Bayliss showed solid improvement this morning, dropping his best lap by nearly a second as he continues to get into the groove after six years out of the saddle.
Meanwhile, new Kawasaki recruit Jonathan Rea (1:31.074) was fourth, from Nico Terol (Ducati, 1:31.263), Bayliss’ teammate Chaz Davies (1:31.327), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki, 1:31.403) and David Salom (Kawasaki, 1:31.488). World champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda, 1:31.546) was ninth.
There will be two Superpole sessions, with the riders who finished timed qualifying in positions 10-20 out first — which will include the three Aussies — and the top two from that session will then progress to join the top 10 in Superpole 2. Both Superpole sessions are 15 minutes long, with all the action commencing at 3:00pm.