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Michel Fabrizio heads into qualifying for the opening round of the 2013 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island as the unequivocal favourite for pole position after once again topping the timesheets in Q2
Having raised eyebrows as the unexpected pace setter on the opening day of action around the Australian circuit, Fabrizio continued to slash his Superpole odds in second qualifying by pumping in a best lap of 1min 30.387secs on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia.
Taking advantage of the recently resurfaced tarmac to comfortably break Carlos Checa's lap record by a half-second, Fabrizio's effort was also enough to put a clear four tenths between himself and closest rival Leon Camier, the Suzuki rider going second after also slipping beneath the previous best marker.
Similarly quick in Q2 was Tom Sykes, last year's pole sitter and 2013 title favourite continuing to build his momentum on the Kawasaki after injuring his wrist in a pre-season testing accident.
Behind him, Eugene Laverty maintained his form to go fourth fastest, ahead of Marco Melandri, Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, while Carlos Checa, Jonathan Rea and Davide Giugliano rounded out the top ten.
With only 15 riders progressing to Superpole in 2013, competition to reach the grid-deciding session was always expected to be keenly fought. In the end, Chaz Davies, Loris Baz, Max Neukirchner and wild-card Jamie Stauffer remained safe, the only change over Q1 coming when Ivan Clementi deposed Glenn Allerton in the final minutes on his HTM BMW.
That means Allerton will have to make do with 16th on the grid, while Fixi Crescent Suzuki's Jules Cluzel was another big name to miss out on Superpole ahead of his WSBK
debut in 17th after an engine problem kept him sidelined for much of the session.
adopting a 3-3-3-3 format for its grid in 2013, Cluzel will start on the sixth row between Allerton and Alexander Lundh, while Ayrton Badovini - who didn't venture onto track in Q2 -, Federico Sandi and Vittorio Iannuzzo make up the seventh and final row.