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Bayliss on top as title contenders strike back.

Troy Bayliss has taken the initiative in final qualifying for the tenth round of the World Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch as the more fancied runners rose to the fore when it mattered.

With the final results being made up of fast times from both today's session and yesterday's provisional qualifying, the arrival of rain, albeit light rain, will serve to provide the main talking point ahead of this afternoon's Superpole.

Indeed, with dark clouds gathering around the circuit, Bayliss wasted no time in stamping some authority after languishing outside the top ten in provisional qualifying, the championship leader becoming the first rider of the weekend to dip below the 1min 26secs mark with a lap of 1min 25.898secs.

Immediately raising the bar for his rivals, Bayliss was only every briefly troubled by initial pole sitter Ryuichi Kiyonari, who regularly flattered to deceive as he went quicker and quicker in the first and second sectors, only to fall flat in the final one.

Still, while he couldn't get the better of Bayliss, second place heading into Superpole still marks easily Kiyonari's best qualifying performance of the season.

Beyond Bayliss, there was a sigh a relief coming from the Suzuki and Yamaha camps too as Max Neukirchner and Troy Corser emerged from almost nowhere to go third and fourth fastest.

Neukirchner was particularly impressive, the German's reputation for steadily building up to the weekend remaining true to form as he leapt up from 16th to third with just over 15 minutes of the session remaining.

Corser was also able to put himself in a considerably better position for Superpole by jumping up to fourth place from a provisional seventh. That was enough to place him ahead of team-mate Noriyuki Haga, as well as Yukio Kagayama and Max Biaggi, the trio failing to improve on their times from yesterday.

Indeed, their cause wasn't helped by the arrival of rain to the Kent circuit, something that threatens to mar the remainder of the day. Although just drizzle disrupted the final ten minutes of the session, it was enough to keep riders inside their garages to the chequered flag.



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