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Reigning champion Carlos Checa has assumed the initiative at the end of Friday's World Superbike action around Misano, the Ducati rider just edging out Jonathan Rea for honours in Q1.
The Spaniard was in command for the majority of the session, with Rea the only rider to snatch the top spot from him with just over ten minutes remaining. However, Checa quickly responded with a 1min 36.521secs to squeeze ahead by little more than four hundredths of a second.
A strong conclusion to the day for four of the top five in the overall WSBK standings, series leader Max Biaggi was third quickest on the Aprilia, just ahead of Donington Park and Miller race winner Marco Melandri, both riders just two tenths adrift of the ultimate pace.
Making big gains between free practice and qualifying, Checa's Althea team-mate Davide Giugliano was a provisional fifth fastest, ahead of fellow Ducati rider Sylvain Guintoli on the Effenbert Liberty machine.
Celebrating the confirmation that he will see out the remainder of the WSBK season on the factory Kawasaki, Loris Baz gave his most convincing showing yet with a fine run to seventh position, ahead of Leon Haslam, Jakub Smrz and even team-mate Tom Sykes.
Outside the top ten, Leon Camier and Eugene Laverty hold down provisional Superpole spots in 11th and 13th respectively, but with the top fifteen covered by a single second, there is little margin for error.
Further back, the gap between John Hopkins in the crucial 16th position and Matteo Baiocco in 17th is a mere 0.009secs, the wild-card Barni Ducati rider being joined by Michel Fabrizio, Hiroshi Aoyama, David Salom, Chaz Davies, Maxime Berger, Leandro Mercado and Federico Sandi in the provisional drop zone.
Fabrizio, Salom, Davies and Sandi all suffered tumbles during the session.