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Smrz takes charge at Donington

11 May 2012

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Effenbert Liberty Ducati's Jakub Smrz has ended the first day of World Superbike Championship action at Donington Park on top after pacing first qualification.

The Czech rider, who was little more than a lap shy of his first WSBK victory at the circuit last year when he was caught and passed by Marco Melandri, struck to the front with less than five minutes remaining to edge out Jonathan Rea by six hundredths of a second.

Despite his pace, Rea concluded his session with an off after dropping his Honda at turn ten, the second time today that he has endured a costly fall.

Another rider to touch gravel today, Carlos Checa recovered to third fastest on the Althea Ducati, while Leon Haslam completed the overnight front row to be classified as the fastest of the local riders.

That status had looked set to be assumed by Leon Camier for much of the session as the FIXI Crescent Suzuki held down the fastest time for much of the session. Nonetheless, despite dropping to fifth, he remains just three tenths off the ultimate pace.

Having set the pace in free practice, Tom Sykes slipped to sixth best in Q1 with a similar lap time, while Italians Michel Fabrizio, Max Biaggi, Davide Giugliano and Ayrton Badovini rounded out the top ten, the latter bouncing back from an earlier crash.

Behind them, Sylvain Guintoli, Marco Melandri, Chaz Davies, Hiroshi Aoyama, Maxime Berger and Eugene Laverty hold down provisional Superpole entry positions, while Peter Hickman needs to potentially find just half a second in Q2 to cause an upset.

Outside the top sixteen, Loris Baz ended his first day as a factory Kawasaki rider in 20th, while David Salom-substitute Gary Mason was 23rd and slowest aboard the Pedercini Kawasaki.


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