Noriyuki Haga has taken provisional pole position for the penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours after a halved qualifying session.

The Japanese rider, who won both races in France last year, prevailed with his lap of 1min 41.012secs as the riders took to the dry track while they could. However, the return of the wet weather mid-way through the session meant there was no more activity on the track after 30 minutes.

Nonetheless, the usual suspects managed to secure a provisional Superpole slot, led by Haga in first, just eighth thousandths of a second quicker than champion-elect Troy Bayliss, who decided to ride a lap this time after sitting out practice.

As well as Yamaha and Ducati out front, Honda and Suzuki got in on the act with Carlos Checa and Fonsi Neito acquiring third and fourth positions, ahead of Troy Corser on the second of the YZF-R1's.

Practice pace setter Roberto Rolfo was impressively quick again to be the best of the privateer fraternity in sixth, marginally ahead of fellow Independent rider Lorenzo Lanzi on the RG Ducati.

Ruben Xaus, Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner are also provisionally safely through, as are the Yamaha France pair of David Checa and Sebastien Gimbert. Gimbert, competing on home ground this weekend, was the only rider to experience a fall in a session, but was able to get going again.

Max Biaggi, Kenan Sofuoglu, Michel Fabrizio and Gregorio Lavilla rounded out the top 16, meaning both PSG Kawasakis, Karl Muggeridge and Jakub Smrz would miss out. As would Martin Bauer on the third Ten Kate Honda, although his 17th quickest time is good progress for a rider who will no doubt be hoping for dry weather tomorrow.

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