Carlos Checa continues to top the timesheets in the World Superbike class at Magny-Cours, the Althea Ducati rider taking provisional pole at the end of the first session of qualifying. But Checa's margin is very slim indeed: the Spaniard finished a mere twelve thousandths of a second faster than Yamaha's Eugene Laverty, and just under nine hundredths quicker than 3rd place man Sylvain Guintoli on the Effenbert Liberty Ducati, the Frenchman finding an extra turn of pace at his home round.
The gaps are minimal throughout the sadly depleted field - Max Biaggi is sitting out the weekend once again as his broken foot heals, while Ruben Xaus was forced to skip the first session of qualifying after crashing and injuring his neck. The top 16 are covered by less than a second, and while Marco Melandri's provisional grid position is pretty poor - the only man capable of preventing Checa from taking the title this weekend set the 14th fastest time on Friday afternoon - his time is only two-thirds of a second slower than Checa's.
There is still all to play for, however. The 16 riders due to go through to Superpole will be decided after the second qualifying session tomorrow morning, and the final grid is to be determined during Superpole on Saturday afternoon.
|1||7||C. CHECA||Ducati 1098R||1'38.652|
|2||58||E. LAVERTY||Yamaha YZF R1||1'38.664||0.012|
|3||50||S. GUINTOLI||Ducati 1098R||1'38.741||0.089|
|4||66||T. SYKES||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'38.860||0.208|
|5||96||J. SMRZ||Ducati 1098R||1'38.942||0.290|
|6||4||J. REA||Honda CBR1000RR||1'38.957||0.305|
|7||91||L. HASLAM||BMW S1000 RR||1'38.977||0.325|
|8||41||N. HAGA||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1'39.019||0.367|
|9||11||T. CORSER||BMW S1000 RR||1'39.025||0.373|
|10||17||J. LASCORZ||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'39.063||0.411|
|11||121||M. BERGER||Ducati 1098R||1'39.196||0.544|
|12||8||M. AITCHISON||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'39.220||0.568|
|13||86||A. BADOVINI||BMW S1000 RR||1'39.309||0.657|
|14||33||M. MELANDRI||Yamaha YZF R1||1'39.333||0.681|
|15||84||M. FABRIZIO||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'39.504||0.852|
|16||2||L. CAMIER||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1'39.587||0.935|
|17||112||J. FORES||BMW S1000 RR||1'39.705||1.053|
|18||44||R. ROLFO||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'39.982||1.330|