Estoril WSBK: Rea beats Redding for back-to-back poles
Jonathan Rea made it two pole positions from two events in the 2021 World Superbike season so far as he beat Scott Redding to the top spot in qualifying at Estoril.
Kawasaki man Rea led the opening runs on a 1m36.635s in the 15-minute Superpole session, but it was ex-MotoGP racer Redding that was first to break through the existing lap record when he posted a 1m36.047s aboard his factory Ducati with four minutes to go.
Two minutes later however Rea struck back with a 1m35.876s, which was enough for him to claim the top spot in qualifying for the second weekend in a row.
Alex Lowes made it two Kawasakis on the front row with a time just 0.007s slower than Redding.
Toprak Razgatlioglu had entered the session firmly among the favourites for pole after topping Friday practice, but the Yamaha rider struggled to put a lap together in Superpole.
The Turkish rider salvaged fourth on the grid on his final run, in which he had to force his way by the Go Eleven Ducati of Chaz Davies at the final corner, ending up 0.288s off the pace.
Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) and the top BMW of Tom Sykes completed the second row.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi was again unable to match the pace of Ducati teammate Redding and will start Saturday's opening race from seventh, followed by the RC Squadra Corse BMW of Eugene Laverty and the Puccetti Kawasaki of Lucas Mahias.
Tito Rabat (Barni Ducati) rounded out the top 10, following in the slipstream of Redding for his second run and running spectacularly wide at Turn 1 after crossing the start/finish line.
Honda had a session to forget as Alvaro Bautista could only manage 12th on the grid, behind the second factory Yamaha of Andrea Locatelli, while Leon Haslam was down in 15th.
Davies will start down in 16th after losing time being stood up by Razgatlioglu on his last run.
UPDATE: A number of riders had their best laptimes deleted for not respecting yellow flags at Turn 1 (caused by Rabat's off), including Lowes, who therefore loses his front row grid spot.
Lowes now lines up in 10th place, while Razgatlioglu moves up to third on the grid ahead of Gerloff, Sykes and Rinaldi. Mahias, Rabat and Locatelli now make up the third row.
Laverty likewise lost his best time, slipping to 13th on the grid behind fellow BMW men Jonas Folger and Michael van der Mark, while Bautista has dropped all the way down to 18th.
Qualifying results (before penalties applied):
|7||21||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati||1'36.532||0.656|
|14||60||Michael van der Mark||BMW||1'37.193||1.317|
|View full results|
Estoril WSBK: Razgatlioglu leads Redding, Rea on Friday
Estoril WSBK: Redding takes victory after tyre gamble