A determined last gasp effort from Max Biaggi
kept him on top of proceedings during provisional qualifying at Brno, the Italian dislodging Michel Fabrizio
and Carlos Checa
from the head of the timesheets.
Biaggi had set the pace in opening free practice around the Czech circuit, but was down in fifth position as the times tumbled during the closing stages of qualifying. Nonetheless, a mighty final effort was enough to catapult him back to the front with the only lap time to slip beneath two minutes.
It was enough to deny Fabrizio a provisional pole position, the Ducati rider having led the way for most of the hour with an early benchmark of 2mins 00.358secs. Although Checa went quicker with his final lap, Fabrizio would resume his place almost straight away, before he too would be edged out by Biaggi himself.
An interesting session in that only four of the top ten in the overall standings actually feature inside the top ten here, all seven manufacturers also appear in the leading positions.
Even so, the times remained remarkably close with Ben Spies in fifth leading a total of 15 riders that would be separated by just a second.
Nonetheless, some of the more unfancied names were on the right end of that margin, with Lorenzo Lanzi
going a fine fifth quickest on the DFX Ducati, while Troy Corser
and Ruben Xaus
completed a very encouraging day for BMW in sixth and eighth respectively.
With Shinya Nakano seventh, Broc Parkes ninth on the leading Kawasaki and Yukio Kagayama, who suffered a fall, flying the flag for Suzuki in tenth, their appearance meant some of the more expected runners were left fighting it out in the lower positions.
Just outside the top ten, Shane Byrne was 11th quickest, ahead of practice front runner John Hopkins, the American still Stiggy Honda's top rider despite also experiencing a fall during the session.
More importantly, Noriyuki Haga
continued to progress, even if he never ranked higher than mid-field to end up in 15th. On the plus side, despite being well back in terms of position, he is just half a second slower than Spies.
Meanwhile, returnee Makoto Tamada
was on the cusp of putting in a surprise performance on the Kawasaki, the Japanese rider producing the fourth best lap right at the end of the session. However, it judged to have occurred once the chequered flag had fallen, causing the lap time to be deleted and leave him in 17th instead.
Of those battling it out for a place in Superpole, only Fonsi Nieto
in 23rd on his first day of competition aboard the DFX Ducati, is considered out of position.