Michel Fabrizio was once again fastest during the first official qualifying practice at Monza this afternoon. But unlike in free practice earlier today, Fabrizio's hegemony went completely unchallenged. Fabrizio was up to half a second faster than his nearest rivals for most of the session, only surrendering a couple of tenths towards the end. Fabrizio is in sparkling form at Monza, and with an advantage of over 0.3 seconds over the 2nd place man, is very much the rider to beat at Monza.
Xerox Ducati team mate Noriyuki Haga was the nearest rider until the final few minutes, when British Yamaha rider Tom Sykes jumped in to take second place. Sykes has been in the shadow of his team mate so far this season, but the cheery Brit took a big step out forward at Monza, consistently near the top of the timesheets. Sykes' fast lap pushed Haga down into 3rd, just 3/100ths off Sykes' time.
The Hondas had been mostly invisible throughout qualifying, until Johnny Rea put in a fast lap in the dying seconds of the session to take 4th place. Rea's position was at the expense of the two Suzukis, Max Neukirchner and Yukio Kagayama forced down to 5th and 6th, though both the German and the Japanese rider had been fast earlier in the session.
Ben Spies finished uncharacteristically far down the field, only managing to set the 7th fastest time on his Yamaha Motor Italia YZF-R1. But given the tiny difference between 4th and 9th, Spies could have been further forward or further back if he had been just a couple of hundredths faster or slower. Spies did finish ahead of Max Biaggi, which will have disappointed the Italian veteran. Leon Haslam, the man who has been the fastest Honda rider so far this year, could only manage the 12th quickest time, while the privateer Ducatis are pretty far down the field, Shane Byrne the first of them in 10th, and Jakub Smrz just managing 13th.