Argentina WSBK: Melandri beats Rea for dominant pole

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Argentina WSBK: Melandri beats Rea for dominant pole
By: Lewis Duncan , Journalist
Oct 13, 2018, 5:34 PM

Ducati rider Marco Melandri dominated qualifying to take the first-ever World Superbike pole position at Villicum by 0.440s from newly-crowned four-time champion Jonathan Rea.

Melandri seized control of the timesheets in the closing stages of SP2 on his Ducati, before blitzing the field with his final attempt to cement his first pole since Aragon with a 1m39.012s.

Practice pacesetter Rea set the early pace in SP2 with a 1m40.023s, but the Kawasaki man was soon deposed by Melandri, who fired in a succession of fastest tours which culminated in a 1m39.729s.

Rea's Kawasaki stablemate Tom Sykes had to come through SP1 for the first time this season, and used his extra 15 minutes of track knowledge to set the timing screens ablaze on his first qualifying tyre lap.

Sykes fired in a 1m39.558s to lay the gauntlet, though this was beaten by Rea by a tenth despite the Ulsterman suffering a moment on the front end of his ZX-10RR at Turn 8.

Rea ran wide at the first turn at the beginning of his final lap, forcing him to abort and leaving him powerless to halt the late surge from Melandri.

Melandri usurped Rea with a 1m39.376s on his first Q tyre lap, and the Italian dug deep on his final effort to go four tenths clear with a 1m39.012s to secure pole.

Rea held onto second despite only having one lap on the Q tyre, while a late lap of 1m39.530s from Milwaukee Aprilia's Eugene Laverty put him onto the back of the front row in third.

Sykes heads row two on the sister KRT machine, missing third by 0.028s, while Barni Racing's Xavi Fores and Yamaha's Alex Lowes completed the top six.

Toprak Razgatlioglu put his customer Puccetti Kawasaki into seventh ahead of the second Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori, while Chaz Davies was left in ninth after encountering a late technical issue with his Ducati.

Leon Camier was top Honda runner in qualifying in 10th, with SP1 graduate Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) and home hero Leandro Mercado (Orelac Kawasaki) filling up the top 12.

Althea BMW's Loris Baz was just under a tenth outside of the SP2 progression places with a 1m40.352s, and will start from 13th ahead of Honda's Jake Gagne and rookie Florian Marino, who is replacing the ousted PJ Jacobsen at Triple M Honda.

Marino's fellow WSBK debutants Maximilian Scheib (MV Agusta) and Gabriele Ruiu (Pedercini Kawasaki) put their respective machinery 16th and 19th on the grid for their maiden races later today.

Qualifying results

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Italy Marco Melandri  Ducati 1'39.012  
2 United Kingdom Jonathan Rea  Kawasaki 1'39.452 0.440
3 Ireland Eugene Laverty  Aprilia 1'39.530 0.518
4 United Kingdom Tom Sykes  Kawasaki 1'39.558 0.546
5 Spain Xavi Fores  Ducati 1'39.590 0.578
6 United Kingdom Alex Lowes  Yamaha 1'39.730 0.718
7 Turkey Toprak Razgatlioglu  Kawasaki 1'40.070 1.058
8 Italy Lorenzo Savadori  Aprilia 1'40.083 1.071
9 United Kingdom Chaz Davies  Ducati 1'40.094 1.082
10 United Kingdom Leon Camier  Honda 1'40.189 1.177
11 Netherlands Michael van der Mark  Yamaha 1'40.343 1.331
12 Argentina Leandro Mercado  Kawasaki 1'40.349 1.337
13 France Loris Baz  BMW 1'40.352 1.340
14 United States Jake Gagne  Honda 1'40.718 1.706
15 Florian Marino  Honda 1'41.484 2.472
16 Chile Maximilian Scheib  MV Agusta 1'41.714 2.702
17 Spain Roman Ramos  Kawasaki 1'41.893 2.881
18 Czech Republic Jakub Smrz  Yamaha 1'42.041 3.029
19 Italy Gabriele Ruiu  Kawasaki 1'42.093 3.081
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